Mark 9:14-29 – Jesus Heals a Boy with an Unclean Spirit

Christian MölkMark Leave a Comment

Mark 9:17

  1. When Matthew describes the same event, he adds that this boy suffers from falling sickness”, an older term for epilepsy (Matthew 17:15).
    1. William Menzies Alexander describes the boy’s epileptic symptoms in his book Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession:
      1. He screams before fainting, he falls suddenly, he has convulsions, he sputters from the mouth, he rolls around on the ground and his total exhaustion makes people around him think he’s dead.
      1. But the fact that the boy is described as epileptic does not necessarily mean that he was not possessed by a demon, but rather that the demon caused the boy’s illness. 
      1. You don’t have to be possessed by a demon if you are sick, but there is a possibility that the illness is caused by a demon.
    1. If the people of the past were sometimes a little too quick to describe sick people as demon-possessed, the people of today are sometimes a little too quick to describe demon-possessed people as sick.

Mark 9:18

  1. While Jesus was on the mountain, the disciples tried to cast out the demon but failed. This upsets Jesus because it shows that the disciples have not come very far in their faith.
  2. In New Testament times, it was commonly believed that one had to know the name of the demon in order to cast it out. Since the boy was mute and thus unable to say the demon’s name, the disciples probably considered this an impossible case.
    1. Jesus makes it abundantly clear that he does not depend on the name of the demon to cast it out.

Mark 9:23

  1. Since Jesus’ disciples have failed to cast out the demon, the boy’s father has begun to despair that even Jesus can cast out the demon.
    1. For God, all things are possible, so the question is not whether the miracle can happen or not, but whether the father believes that God can perform this miracle (Mark 10:27).
      1. It is a person’s faith that makes the miracle of God available. Of course, God can perform miracles independently of man, but often God chooses to perform miracles in the context of a person’s faith.
      1. Jesus could not work miracles when people did not believe in him (Mark 6:5).
      1. The woman with hemophilia was healed when she touched Jesus in faith (Mark 5:34).
      1. Jesus often challenged the sick to go a step further in their faith so that they would be healed (Mark 5:36).
      1. Even the disciples of Jesus today have the power to cast out demons (Luke 9:1, Mark 16:17).
    1. If something is according to God’s will, it only takes a little faith like a grain of mustard seed to do great things (Luke 17:6).

Mark 9:24

  1. Although the boy’s father confessed his faith, it was weak and lacking, so he asks Jesus for help.
    1. Without God’s help, it is sometimes difficult to believe, so it is not wrong to ask God for help to believe.
    1. James writes, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8).

Mark 9:29

  1. Jesus has given his disciples the authority to cast out demons, but the belief that one has received this authority is strengthened by living close to God in prayer.
    1. Believing that you have received God’s authority while living close to God in prayer is an excellent combination.
  2. If you lack the faith needed to cast out demons, you should do what the boy’s father did; turn to Jesus and pray for more faith.
  3. Some Bible translations have a longer version of this verse: “with prayer and fasting”.
    1. This is because some Greek manuscripts contain the addition “and fasting”, while the oldest manuscripts lack this.
    1. Which translation is more correct is difficult to answer, although research suggests that “and fast” was not in the original text but is a later addition. Either way, it doesn’t really matter since prayer and fasting are often connected.
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