And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” (Mark 9:19 ESV)
This Sunday’s exposition moves us from the mountaintop to the valley, to the display of the kingdom of God to a display of the kingdom of Satan. Our last passage considered the Transfiguration of the Son of God and this passage considers the disciples’ failed attempt to heal a demon-possessed boy. What a contrast.
But this contrast is a picture of the everyday life of a disciple of Jesus Christ. Warren Wiersbe said, “In one day, a disciple can move from the glories of heaven to the attacks of hell.” If you are a follower of Christ, you know this very well. Some days are “mountain top moments” wherein you bask in the power and presence of the Lord. Other days, it seems as though all the world and Satan’s army are firing freely at you. And some days have a little bit of both.
As we walk through this sin-cursed world, we have a tendency to forget the glorious, eternal world to come. Our last exposition reminded us that temporary suffering precedes eternal glory. We may know this to be true, but applying this truth can be difficult. We tend to see only with our eyes, and when all that is in front of us is suffering or opposition, we become blind to the glory. But here’s the good news: the glory and power of Christ’s kingdom doesn’t cease when things get difficult on earth. The same Jesus who was transfigured on the mountain top is the Lord of the valley.
Our text will uncover the key to connecting the glory of the mountain top with the challenges of the valley: when his disciples asked why they could not heal a demon-possessed boy, Jesus said, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” (v29)
That’s it? Prayer? All I need to do is close my eyes and utter a few words and Jesus will come to my rescue?
Of course, when Jesus mentions prayer, he is mentioning true, biblical prayer and all its implications. Throughout Mark, we are continually told that the disciples lack faith. The person who truly believes is also a person of prayer, because he realizes that he is powerless without God. The prayer that Jesus talks about in this chapter is a prayer of dependent faith in Christ’s power. In other words, had the disciples truly prayed for Christ’s help, they could have tapped into the same power that was manifest on the mountain top. Prayer brings the glory down to earth.
The disciples’ lack of power, then, is most likely their dependency on themselves. What is keeping you and me from this power? What are our excuses to not pray in faith? Carefully read this entire text as you prepare your hearts for Sunday’s exposition and come prepared to feed on the word of Christ.