The Peril and Power of Puny Faith

Mark 9:14–28

Posted by Michael Dionne on August 6, 2023
The Peril and Power of Puny Faith
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1. The Peril of Puny Faith (Mark 9:14-19)

2. The Power of Puny Faith (Mark 9:20-27)

3. The Prescription for Puny Faith (Mark 9:28-29)

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    What a privilege to be here. And I was just thinking about junior high camp happening this week, and how many junior high camps I got to experience and suffer through and how many things I learned and was taught those wonderful weeks. It's a joy to be back and to be here with all of you this morning. Yeah, we get to study God's Word together, we get to study from the book of Mark, we're going to be in Mark chapter nine. So if you've got a Bible and you want to open it up, please do Mark chapter nine. I'll read the text and, and pray. So if you want to stand with me, Mark chapter nine starting in verse 14.

    And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd when they saw him were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, What are you arguing about with them? And someone from the crowd answered them teacher, I brought my son to you for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down. And he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out. And they were not able? And He answered them, oh, faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me. And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirits saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy. And he fell on the ground and rolled about foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, how long has this been happening to him? And he said, from childhood, and it is often cast him into fire and into water to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us, and help us. And Jesus said to him, if you can, all things are possible for one who believes. Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, I believe, help my unbelief. And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirits saying to it, you mute and deaf spirit, I command you come out of him and never enter him again. And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out. And the boy was like a corpse, so that many of them said he's dead. But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up. And he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked Him privately, why can we not cast it out? And he said to them, this kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer. This is the word of the Lord. Let's pray. Lord Jesus, it is a joy to be reminded of your power, and of your authority. And it is humbling to be shown how weak our faith can be. Lord, we are reminded today that if we place our faith in you, you can and will do all things for your glory. Help us now as we study Your Word. Help us to focus helped me to be clear, and allow us to worship you as we learn to fix our eyes on our Savior. We pray in Your name. Amen. All right, please be seated. All right, let's start with a question. How many of you loved taking tests in school? Go on, raise your hand, you nerds. Come on, get them up. Come on. Me too. Yeah, tests are fun. I have a confession to make. I was one of those people who loved taking tests. I loved the moment where it was just me and the pencil and that test and the opportunity to show what I knew. And that's because that was one of the only things I was good at. I didn't like to be tested in any other situation in sports or music or friendly conversation. Right? You Now Now I like taking tests because I was good at it. Maybe that wasn't your thing. Maybe you're more of an athlete or or musician or the stage or, you know those kinds of things. But the reality is that most of us prefer to be tested at things we're good at. Because everybody likes to get a good score to get a good grade, we like testing as long as it means we are performing well. That's because the point of testing is exposure. The point of testing is to show what you really know, to show if you're really as equipped, as you say you are. Now you might not like testing, but let me put it to you this way. Do you want your brain surgeon to have passed a lot of really difficult tests? Yes, you do. Do you want our teenagers to pass a lot of tests before they get their driver's license? Yes, right. See, testing is not a bad thing. Testing shows we're equipped testing shows that we know what we actually know and whether we're actually ready for the job. Now, the interesting thing, Proverbs 17, verse three, listen to what it says it says, The Crucible is for silver and the furnace is for gold. And the Lord tests hearts. Just like teachers, test students and coaches, test athletes and bosses, test employees, God tests believers. Now in a Christian, sits one of these tests for God, what is what is being tested? What is it that God wants to expose? The Bible makes it clear that what God is after is exposing our faith. James one says, counted all joy, my brothers when you face trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. The beauty of God's testing is that it exposes your faith. It shows what your faith is in and how strong your faith is. That's a good thing. That's something we should be thankful for. So according to the Bible, we will all have our tests our faith tested, and that test is an act of God's love. Now, some of us in this room are being tested right now. We just heard the story we just were just told about the Nelson family they are beginning or continuing a great test of their faith. Some of us live lives where we're being tested. For most of our life, it feels like every week is a new test a new trial. Some of us aren't being tested right now. But that means that a test is coming because the test is guaranteed. But what's not guaranteed? is how we'll do well, it's not guaranteed is the results. So the question you need to ask yourself is if God chooses to test your faith this week, if this afternoon or tomorrow morning, you find yourself in a trial and tribulation and a temptation. What is going to be exposed? What are the results? Today's text compares and contrasts to tests of faith. The faith of Jesus's disciples is tested. And the results come back puny, little weak, they have weak faith. And then the faith of the boy's father is tested and the results come back. Puny, weak, he has little faith both have puny faith, but in one situation, we're going to see that it's a glorious triumph. And another situation that weak faith is shameful. That tells us the big idea. The big idea is that you can only glorify God, if you keep your faith fixed on Christ. You can only glorify God, Christian, if your faith if the eyes of your heart are fixed on Jesus Christ. The outline of our sermon today is simple. It's the peril of puny faith, and then the power of puny faith, and then Jesus will give us the prescription for Punic faith. Let's start with the peril of puny faith and starting verse 14, which says, And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them and scribes arguing with them. Now mark is we're jumping in to a story. So he says, when they came, we assume we know who he's talking about. The day is Jesus, Peter, James and John C. They come from the Mount of Transfiguration. That's the story that happens in the previous section of chapter nine. And what happened is Jesus had selected Peter and James and John, to go with him on a little journey, where they were going to get to experience an incredible moment. They went to the top of this mountain and then the Bible says that Jesus was transfigured, which means for just a moment, the veil was pulled back. And he showed them his glory. They saw Him for who He really was. This is one of the high points of Jesus's ministry. This is exciting. This is revelation. Why? Because on the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus in His glory is joined by Moses and Elijah. And God tells the disciples, This is My beloved Son, listen to him. God is commanding the disciples and us to listen to Jesus, just as the people of God met. We're meant to listen to Moses and to the prophets. We are to listen to Jesus, the Word of God made flesh. This moment was a triumph for God's for Jesus's ministry.

    And so now, he's returning. Now this journey took a couple of days, it was, it was far away. So while all this glorious revelation has been happening, the other nine disciples are back in town holding down the fort. And so Jesus and these three returned to town and they find it's not a very peaceful situation they're entering into, they come into the other disciples in the midst of a conflict. They're locking horns with Jesus's enemies. Now, what does verse 15 Say? It says, immediately all the crowd when they saw Jesus were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, What are you arguing about with them? To the crowd is greatly amazed. Why are they greatly amazed as Jesus still kind of glowy from his transfiguration? No, that's not what's happening. Right? He told them, Don't tell anybody what you saw, that wouldn't work if he was still radiant. Now, what's happening is he is stepping in at just the right moment. He's stepping into a conflict into a problem into a situation that he needed to resolve. And the crowd is amazed to see God's timing God's providence when everything is coming to a head between the disciples and the Pharisees. Jesus appears, they're amazed. And Jesus steps right into the conflict. The crowd greets him and he steps up to them, it says, And he says, What are you arguing about? He's speaking to the disciples and the Pharisees. So we asked them this question and then listen to verse 17. And someone from the crowd, answered him, Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he phones and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked her disciples to cast it out. And they were not able. They were not able to see a man from the crowd speaks up, Jesus asks the disciples in the Pharisees, what's going on, but this man speaks up and he says, Look, I brought you my son, Luke nine tells us that this is his only son. He's been afflicted by this demon for years, is a terrible trial for this family. And this man had finally decided after Jesus has been ministering for multiple years throughout Israel, to bring his son to Jesus. But sadly, for the father, when he arrives, he finds that Jesus is not there. It's just these disciples, he says, I brought my son to you. And the implication is, you weren't here. So I had to turn to these losers. The B squad, the C squad, the leftovers, I bring it bring my son to you, and they failed. They were not able. This is a crisis point for Jesus's ministry. This is a huge test. This has never happened before in Jesus's ministry, Jesus has never struggled to cast out a demon. Mark tells us through the language of this story, that this demon was powerful and wicked and vicious. But that's never been a problem for Jesus before. There have been times where because of the faith, the weak faith of people, he chooses not to do any miracles. But he's never struggled to cast out a demon. This has never happened before. And you might say, Oh, well, but what about this Jesus disciples, it's not Jesus. But you need to remember that Jesus had given them the power to cast out demons. And he had actually sent them out for a few months around Judea by themselves without him to do just that. This was part of their job description. This was normal, everyday ministry for the disciples. So all of a sudden, one day, Jesus goes away for a couple days. And they don't have what it takes anymore. They can't do it. This is a big problem. And worse, it's public. The whole village is seeing this. Everybody knows what's going on. And the enemies have pounced on it. The scribes are there and they're attacking the disciples. And that's why there's this argument. There's this conflict. There's this debate. I can understand why the crowd is relieved and excited to see Jesus because his ministry is being questioned. When the father says they're not able, what he's saying is they don't have what it takes. He's not saying they're having a Bad day. He's not saying I wish I had come on Tuesday. Right? He's saying they're like an artist with no pencil. They're like a soldier with no sword. They're like a farmer with no tractor. They don't have what they need. They don't have what it takes. It's not that they aren't willing. It's either they didn't try. They aren't capable. The father is confronting Jesus, with this ministry failure, he's desperate. He's disappointed he went to the one remaining place where there could have been hope for his son. And these guys couldn't help him. I remember I said, Jesus comes into the discussion and he speaks to the Pharisees and the disciples says, What are you arguing about? But it's not the Pharisees, the disciples who answer? It's the father. Why? Well, the scribes are probably gloating. Right? This is their moment of triumph. They're looking at the disciple saying, Do you want to tell them what happened? Right for them? This is this is what they've been waiting for. This is proof that this guy who they fear so much, maybe isn't who he says he is. And the disciples aren't saying anything, because this is an embarrassment. It's a failure. And everyone sees it. So the crowd is amazed because the stakes are high. When the father says they were not able, he is saying your ministry is in question. Are the disciples really not able to do this? Are the scribes accusations true? Has Jesus's power stopped working? Is his ministry no longer effective? How is he going to usher in the kingdom if his disciples can't handle one lousy demon? Everyone thinks the problem is the inability of the disciples. But Jesus focuses on something different. Look what he says in verse 19. Look at his diagnosis of the problem, it says, And He answered them, oh, faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? See, Jesus isn't worried about the fact that the exorcism failed, he's going to deal with that. The problem here is why these disciples failed. The failed exorcism is a symptom of a much more serious condition. And that condition is unbelief. It's faithlessness. Jesus mourns his generation he mourns these people, as faithless, not powerless, not ignorant, not weak or fearful. faithless. In this moment, Jesus diagnosis the disciples with the same disease as their generation, they have an acute lack of faith. See, the situation was a test. When the boy was brought to the disciples, they had an opportunity to display their faith in God, faith that they had been fit that had been fed. After three years of following Jesus and seeing his power and his authority and his love. They had an opportunity to show that power through having faith that he could use them to defeat this enemy. And instead, they revealed that they had the same faithlessness as the rest of their people. Their faith was tested and the results came back. Puny, small, weak. So what is the cause? Why was their faith weak? Why couldn't they handle the situation properly? Well, there are two things that weaken faith, fear and pride. Fear and pride, weaken our faith. Now, it could have been that the disciples saw this boy saw the affliction he was under saw the power of this demon, and it shook them a little bit. They hadn't seen they hadn't been with Jesus for a couple days, and this is a big one. And they got nervous, and they gave into fear. But the second possibility is pride. The second possibility is that the disciples had become overconfident. They had been they had gotten used to using the gifts and the blessings that God had given them. And they weren't too worried about this. They were unfazed. They didn't take the situation with the seriousness of a disciple who's dependent on God. I think the fact that they're arguing with the scribes means it's more likely they were prideful. Right when your pride is exposed, what comes out is argument, debate fighting, right? They don't step back and fade away and try to disappear. They get combative. That's the response of pride. Now, whether it's pride or fear that derails their faith, the reality is when they're called upon to do their ministry to bring the kingdom to Israel to expose the darkness, they couldn't. Both fear and pride are a result of not fixing your eyes on the only part person who can truly help. Fear might place faith in God. But the God of someone who is fearful is not as big as he should be. He's not as biblical as he ought to be. And so the situation becomes bigger than the God you have your faith in. But pride placed his faith in yourself, faith in your own gifts, you start to think that the things God has given you to steward for His glory are things that are your own.

    And they were called upon to glorify God by depending on his power, they came up short. The disciples failure exposes the peril, of puny faith. Every test God gives us as an opportunity to glorify Him, which is our goal as disciples. But when our faith is puny and weak, we don't pass that test. Because our faith is in the wrong object. The power of faith is not in the size of the faith, but in the object of the faith. When you have the best player on your team, you go into the game, really confident, because no matter what happens, he's going to carry you to victory. When you have the best weapon in your army, you go into battle, confident because you have the obvious advantage. When the Christian when the believer in God enters into the trials and difficulties of this world, they do so with the only person who can give them what they need. That means that we have what it takes, because he has what it takes. That's what faith does. The great struggle of the Christian life is to keep your faith in God and not in other things. And the disciples failure was shameful, because they had no excuse for this. They had seen Jesus's power, they had experienced His goodness and His blessing every day. But they didn't turn to Him. They turned to themselves, they gave into their fear. They had every reason in this moment to exercise a settled and confident faith and what God could do through them. But they failed, and that was God's grace. God exposed their puny faith, he let them fail, so they could see how much they needed him. That was an act of love on God's part, as testing always is. So how does Jesus respond to their failure? These words are difficult. He said, How long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Now, you know, parents, when you speak like that towards your kids? There's probably not a lot of love and joy and peace in your heart. Right? Is Jesus lashing out as his disciples as he had enough? Is he being impatient? No, not our Lord. Jesus is lashing out at sin. He's lashing out at wickedness and evil at the darkness of this world. Remember, he's just come from the Mount of Transfiguration. He's had his ministry affirmed. He's been reminded and encouraged by Moses and Elijah to finish his ministry strong and then he comes down from the mountain into the valley and goes right back into the sin and the darkness of this world and sees his closest friends and followers succumbing to faithlessness. This is a cry of lament. Jesus is weary. He hates the sin. He hates this world, and he laments its effect on his followers. Jesus isn't angry, he doesn't walk away in a huff does he? Isn't say, Guys, I just need a minute. Right? He says, bring the child to me. See, the big idea is you can only glorify God if you keep your faith fixed on Christ. In these first few verse verses, we see the peril of puny faith, if we don't fix our eyes on Christ than when He tests us, we're gonna come up short. And the consequence of coming up short, and that test is that we aren't glorifying God as we should. That is not an option for followers of Jesus. And Jesus is going to address that in a moment. But first, the story shifts, and we get to look at Jesus's interaction with this suffering father. And in this part of the story, we see the power of puny faith. Look at verse 20. Jesus says, Bring him to me, and it says, And they brought the boy to him, and when the Spirit saw him immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, how long has this been happening to him? As the crowd brings the boy to our Lord, this demon begins to attack the boy with another violent fit. And as this fit carries on, Jesus turns to the Father and asks him, how long has this been happening? But this question, Jesus isn't building a case history for his patients file. He's trying to enter in to this man's suffering. He's communicating that he can see how terrible this has been. He can understand how much this Father's heart aches, he can understand the desperation and the fear and the worry, and the exhaustion of this family who has endured this trial. He's coming alongside this man, and he's displaying the precious pastoral reality of His ministry that he came into our world. To live life with us. How are you suffering right now? How is the curse affecting your life? Have you buried a loved one this year? Are you feeling the pain of an empty womb? Is your marriage filled with strife? Are your friendships on the rocks? Are you watching your loved ones fade away or succumb to sickness or even worse to sin? To the temptation of this world? Are you seeing your own body start to deteriorate. This world is full of pain and suffering and all of us experience it. But we experience a Christian with a God who has experienced it with us as an experienced sin himself. But he's experienced the effects of sin. He enters into it. He is there with us there is only one God, who has seen the evil and suffering and wickedness of this world and chosen to enter into it and that is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. He has suffered. And as he stands next to his father and watches this boy suffer, he reminds us that he knows that he is a faithful high priest. Who can be sympathetic with us this question is a precious moment of compassion from your Savior. And the man response, verse 21, he says, from childhood, and it is often cast him into fire and into water to destroy him. In other words, this has been going on for years. And it's not just the Fitz, it's not just the seizures. This goes beyond that this is life or death. The family has had to make sure there's no fire, no open water near this boy, because if the demon gets a chance, it's not just trying to make this kid suffer. It wants this child dead. This demon is a picture of evil and wickedness incarnate it wants to destroy life and the life of a young child. This helps you understand why the father came parents. Can you imagine the agony and desperation that you would feel if this was your situation? Can you imagine how much time you would have spent trying every possible thing you could to get relief for your child? You've done everything. Nothing's worked. So maybe just maybe this Jesus guy, this guy who's been around for a few years doing this ministry, maybe he could do something no one else can. Maybe he has more to offer than comforting words. And that's exactly what the Father asked for. He says, If you can do anything, have compassion on us, and help us. He's saying thank you for your compassion. Thank you for showing me that you care. But everyone has compassion. Everyone is sad when they see this. Can you do anything? Can that compassion that you have motivate you to change my family's story? Is there a chance? Is there any chance that you can succeed where everyone else has failed? This man is being honest about his dad. He says if you can. He's not proclaiming the kind of faith that we would love for a claim. I know you can show it. He's saying if you can't, he's doubtful, but Is that surprising. He's lived in this situation for years he's seen the power in the wickedness which lives in his precious child. He more than anyone knows the darkness of the situation. And so he's come out of the darkness into the light just enough with just enough faith to come find Jesus. And then when he shows up Jesus isn't even there. When he shows up the losers who are supposed to be Jesus representatives can't even do it. So now he's in the exact same place you and I would be he's saying I think I put my faith in the wrong thing. I think I hoped one One more time, for no good. If the disciples demonstrated pride when they face this demon, here we see the father's fear. He doesn't have the evidence of Jesus's ministry that these men have had. He hasn't walked with Jesus, he doesn't know that he's capable of feeding 5000 of, of stopping the storms of calling the seas of healing the lepers. All he has is a bit of hearsay and the failure of Jesus's disciples to go off of

    the little faith that he had the little faith that got him here has been stomped on in the past few moments. It's this tiny, flickering, smoldering thing, flame. And he's saying, Do I just need to give a darkness need to move on? Is this faith going to be snuffed out? This is the moment of truth of Jesus can't do it. No one can. He's saying, Am I ever going to hold my son again, free of this affliction? Or is this my life? Do I just need to accept it? If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. He? He clearly has some hope. Right? Or he'd be gone, he'd be long gone. But his hope is on life support. There's no pulse. What Jesus does here is incredible. What Jesus does is he challenges this man in this moment of desperation, he pushes back just a little bit. And he defibrillator the faith of this father. Look at verse 23. And Jesus said to him, if you can, all things are possible. For one who believes Jesus saying, it doesn't matter if I can it matters if you believe that I can. It's not the size of the faith matters. It's the object of the faith. Are you going to take this moment and put your faith in me? Do you believe that I can do this? Just like his question. Jesus's words are laid in there filled with love. He's placing this challenge before the man he's inviting him to respond in faith. And this is what God's testing does. It's an invitation in the midst of pain and suffering and despair, to respond in faith. Look at verse 24. One of the most beautiful sentences in the Bible. Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, I believe, help my unbelief. There's no hesitation, there's no pause. As soon as the words are out of Jesus's mouth, the man responds, I believe. Now, Mark says immediately, the father of the child, even here, Mark wants to remind us that this isn't just some guy. This is that guy who has suffered tremendously. Jesus is there with a man who has experienced desperate pain. And Jesus pokes that man's heart. And faith comes out. Immediately, the father child cried out and said, the language here is that this father is yelling, he's bellowing. I didn't want to imitate that when I read it, because I love you and your ears. And I didn't want to deafen everyone in the room. But the idea is we're going to see from the text is that this is a loud cry, this is desperate. He is saying Jesus help me now. He says, I believe. He confesses his faith and the moment of truth, he declares that his faith is in Jesus Christ. Once in high school, I had a big exam. And remember, I already said I liked exams. This was like, This is my comfort zone. I was ready. Because AP Chemistry, this is a big deal. If I get a good enough grade on this test, then I get college credit that makes my dad happy. That makes me happy. Everybody wins, right? So I've been studying, I've been preparing but like a like every other high school or I missed a couple of memos. So I show up for this exam. And I opened the book and it says take your calculator, and I say what calculator? I thought they were gonna give me the calculator. But I was supposed to bring my own. And all of a sudden I realize it doesn't matter. If I know the I know how to answer every question on this test. I cannot get a passing grade. I cannot do it. I do not have what it takes to pass this test. This is a guaranteed failure. And I went up to the Proctor and I said I didn't know I need to calculate. I'm so sorry. She said good luck. So just sat there for four hours and silently mourned. I couldn't do it. I didn't have what it took. There was nothing I could do about it. wasn't allowed to leave. I couldn't find a friend. I had no hope. I was doomed. This father in this moment he experienced something similar. In the face of Jesus's question he sees, I have nothing. I've tried at all. I've got nothing left. He had to go outside of himself outside of what this world had to offer to get the healing that his son needed and driven by love for his son driven by his desperation for deliverance driven by his own awareness of how little he could do. The truth became clear. The father saw it, right there, only Jesus can help me. Only Jesus can help me. This is his moment of testing. When Jesus tested this man, we got to see what he really believed. And he has faith. He declared it I believe, it's there. I have it. I have the faith. Here it is, look, I have it. But immediately, amazingly, what does he say? I believe, help my unbelief. This man is wise. He's very aware. He has faith. But it's not big. It's not strong. It's not Miami. He's just said, I don't even know if I should be here. He has faith but it is not perfect. He has faith but it is puny. When he says Help my unbelief. He's using the exact same word that Jesus used in verse 19. When he said, O faithless generation, the Father is saying, I have faith help my faithlessness I'm one of those. I'm a part of that generation of what am I doing here? I have faith, but it's nothing isn't going to work. Is it enough? If it's not enough, can you help? Can you give me some more? Because I got I'm giving you all I have. Where the disciples were defensive. The father is honest. He lays it all on the table, where the disciples are prideful. The father is humble. He shows his faith and he exposes the weakness of it all. In the same moment. He declares, he proclaims and he bellows that he has faith and he bellows that he needs help. And Jesus response in verse 25. And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, you mute and deaf spirit, I command you come out of him and never enter him. Again. After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out and the boy was like a corpse. So most of them said he's dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up. And he arose. See, the demon starts to attack the boy. And so the crowd would have pulled away, the fit is happening, the crowd steps back, and it's just Jesus and his father having this conversation, right? I mean, anyone who's seen a fit of this sort, it's uncomfortable, you don't want to draw attention to it. So the crowd is pulled away. But when the man cries out, I believe Help my unbelief. The crowd does what crowds do, it's happening. This is it, we got to get it on our Instagram, right, like everyone's crowding around to see this miracle. And that is not what Jesus is here for. He sees the crowd coming. And he says, we need to finish this now. So he turns, not to the Father. Notice he doesn't say a single word to the Father. He turns to the demon and he speaks to the demon. And he tells the demon to come out. And to never return. He not only delivers the child, but he protects the child from any future attacks. Now the demon departs, and he takes a final parting shot at the boy, leaving him seemingly lifeless on the ground. And the crowd which is includes these religious leaders, Jesus's enemies, they think he's too late. When they say he is dead, some of those people are rejoicing. They think that God failed. They think that evil got the best of Jesus and his followers. But then Jesus reaches down draws the boys up and he the boy up and he rises, alive, healed and free. Jesus delivers the boy and his family from this demon, they will never be attacked. Again. They are free, they are delivered, they are rescued. He answered this man's requests with action, not with words, without action. Jesus proves that there's no real crisis in his ministry. There's nothing to be worried about. His power is not diminished. In fact, with the father's declaration of faith, his power is displayed. It's glorified. When you fix your eyes on me and put your faith in me. You don't need to worry because all things are possible. Jesus is glorified. So in con dressed for the disciples when this man is tested, we see the power of puny faith. Jesus used this moment of absolute desperation. To test this father, the man understood he had nothing to bring, he understood that he was completely helpless completely in need of God. And so when he was tested, he worshiped.

    When he was tested, God was glorified. And we didn't display this great, powerful faith. He admitted, the weakness of his faith, but his faith was in the right object, his eyes were fixed on Christ, you can only glorify God, if you keep your faith fixed on Christ. When this man did this, he showed the power of puny faith. Now, the target audience of this passage is Jesus's disciples, it's you and I. God wants us to read this passage and see the warning. We need to be asking ourselves, is my faith fixed on Christ? In order to fight puny faith, we need to take the object of our faith seriously. And in the last two verses of our text, Jesus tells us how to do that. In verses 28, and 29, Jesus gives you the prescription for puny faith, if you see that your faith is weak, and you want to change that Jesus shows us how. Look at verse 28. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked Him privately, Why could we not cast it out? See, Jesus has delivered the child from the demon but he hasn't delivered the disciples from the shame and the embarrassment of their failure. They wait, they, they, they sneak off with Jesus into the house, and they even wait till it's just them and Jesus in the house. And then they're saying, what happened out there? What gives? They're ashamed, but they still don't see it. They didn't catch Jesus's diagnosis. When he said, O faithless generation, they said, You're right. They are pretty faithless. Jesus saying, No, you are the faithless ones. They don't understand. They failed because their faith was weak. They think the problem is technique approach. Maybe maybe the they did something wrong. Maybe they got the steps backwards. But Jesus gives the prescription he gives the cure for their faithlessness verse 29, it says, And he said to them, this kind cannot be driven out by anything. But prayer. See, the solution is prayer. My prayer. When we pray, we show we're putting our faith in the proper place. When we pray, we keep our eyes on the only person who can help us. prayer and faith go hand in hand, you cannot have one without the other. That's because honest prayer is the ultimate declaration of dependence. It's the simplest and purest act of faith. You can make prayer admits to things I am not able, God is able. When you pray, when you honestly pray, when you seek the Lord, you are saying, Lord, I am not able, you are able, I am not great, you are great. Prayer resets our worldly perspective and places God in his proper place. Remember, we said Fear and pride are the great enemies of faithful prayer defeats fear. When God is in his proper place. The problem is never too big. The test is never too hard. Because we know and understand who God is. Prayer also defeats pride when God is in his proper place. We aren't depending on ourselves. We don't think we can do it. We don't rely on our own strength or wisdom or wealth. When we pray, God is big. In our eyes, he takes center stage. And that means that no matter what the problem, we know that God is able. When we pray, we align our faith on its proper object, Jesus Christ. You can only glorify God if you keep your faith fixed on Christ. And prayer is the means by which we constantly regularly fix our eyes on Jesus Christ. And you know what this story showed us that when the man cried out, he said, I believe Help my unbelief. What was he doing there? He was doing what we do when we pray. He wasn't arguing like the disciples, he was admitting his weakness, his inability. And he was asking the Lord to work. He was saying, this is all I have, can you make it into something more? Can you help my unbelief? And when God healed his son, he answered his prayer. What do you think happened to his faith? When he saw his son, rise up from the ground? God helped his unbelief. God answered his prayer. The father saw that he had nothing he needed and that Jesus had everything he needed. That was all the faith, he had the opportunity to exercise. It was that simple for him. He didn't know Jesus. He hadn't seen his ministry. So he was stepping out in faith in a way that he never had before he was trusting. He was brought to the end of himself and his response, glorified God, the disciples though, they didn't even see it. They had to have Jesus tell them, they were being faithless. And their puny faith was shameful, because they didn't have the same excuse. The father had. They knew Jesus. They'd been in training for years, they'd seen their own weakness, and they'd seen Jesus's power and might and glory, but in the moment of testing, they didn't look to Him. That's because they weren't prayerful. They weren't keeping their eyes fixed on Christ. They weren't reminding themselves of the source of their power and their strength. If they'd been prayerful, they would have reset their perspective, they would have had their faith where it should have been, and God would have been glorified. So what happens in this story is, God is mercifully using this test to expose the weakness of these disciples faith. And he's doing that for our sake, so that we can check ourselves. So we can ask ourselves if our faith is in the right object. Now, the beauty here is that Jesus exposed his disciples with this test. They failed, but he doesn't leave them without hope. As sad as their failure is Jesus, you don't see a bunch of harsh what happened out there. You know, this isn't the kind of thing that a coach does when a team loses miserably. Jesus graciously heals the boy and he graciously teaches His disciples. He gives them the cure. He tells them to pray, to pray, and we pray, what we're saying, is helped me, help me and we pray, we're declaring our dependence on God. We're demonstrating the belief we have, and we're fighting the unbelief that we have. And that's the prescription for treating puny faith. So we've seen that you can only glorify God if you keep your faith fixed on Christ. This story shows that when this father fixed his faith on Jesus Christ, even though his faith was small, and he could see it, God was glorified. And the result was triumph. But in contrast, the disciples Fini, puny faith was a failure. It was shameful. Because it was a result of them not fixing their eyes on Jesus. And maybe you're like the father in this story. Maybe you don't really know Jesus, yet. You've heard of his power. You've heard of what he's done in other people's lives, and you want to believe you, maybe now you probably don't have a demon possessed child, but you're suffering or you're seeking something in this world. And you're just as desperate as this man was. You might not want to admit it. But you are. If you aren't a Christian, then you're looking everywhere, for hope, and for love and for joy and for peace and for comfort. But if you're not putting your faith in Christ, you won't find those things. Because your faith is in the wrong object. The joy and the peace and the rest in the hope that you desperately need can only be found in Jesus, Jesus, who is God who is the only way to salvation. Jesus who makes it possible for you to know peace, but by dying on the cross, by paying the penalty for sin, so that you can be at peace with God. You want peace with God, you need Jesus. You want to triumph in trials and suffering in this world. You need Jesus, the only source of lasting joy and hope and peace and pleasure is Jesus Christ. Friend, those aren't things you can earn. They aren't things that you can discover or build or control. Those are things you need to receive. Those are gifts that Jesus gives. You need to understand that every one of us is as helpless to fight our sin, as as helpless to save ourselves as the father was to rescue his son from this demon. Only Jesus can save you and you must put your faith in Him Jesus wants your faith will you place it in him? Not on yourself. Not in your wealth, not your skills or your mind or your opportunities not in the pleasures of this world. Come to the end of yourself like this poor father did see your need for help and see the only person who can give it to you cry out, I believe, help my unbelief and see what Jesus can do. Now that is something he loves to do for those of of us who are not saved. But for us who are saved. That's just as much what we need, right? We've cried out before we've cried out in faith, we've been saved, but we're still distracted. We're still tempted. We're still chasing after things that don't satisfy, we're still putting our hope and our faith in the wrong objects.

    But we are Jesus's disciples. You might not have had a front row seat to Jesus's ministry, like the men in our story, but you have more. You have his word. You have the church, you have the testimony of your brothers and sisters, you have your own experience of how he is loved and helped you. And if you're anything like me, you read this story and you feel the pressure. How would I respond? When I'm tested, what would happen? How would I do so the question is Christian, what are you putting your faith in? God is actively putting picture after picture of his faithfulness, goodness and power before you if you are walking in discipleship, is that growing your faith? It must. Are you fixing your eyes on Christ, you must because the tests will come. There are easy days and there are hard days. This text tells us that this demon was a particularly wicked difficult demon. This was a hard test. What will you face and when it comes, will you be ready? Jesus gives you the prescription. If your faith is weak, Jesus gives us the prescription if our faith is in the wrong object, or even worse, if the faith is if our faith is in ourselves. The prayer of the faithful disciple is no different than the words of the Father, I believe, help my unbelief. The Christian life is a lifelong struggle against Our fear and our pride. It's not a one time thing. You'll be struggling to root out unbelief until the day you see your savior Christian. So embrace the struggle, declare your weakness and your need for Jesus's power and grace. Then he gets the glory. If you're in a if you're not in a trial right now, you need to pray. You need to pray so that when that trial comes, your eyes are fixed on Jesus. If you are in a trial, right now, you need to pray you need to beg the Lord to help you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. And if you're coming out of a test or trial, you need to pray you need to review what God has revealed about your faith. So you can depend on him even more. What do we do, we pray, we pray and pray. We fix our eyes on our Savior, so that we can glorify Him when we're tested. And here's the beautiful thing, Christian, even when you fail, even in your weakness, there's great hope. All those tests are there because God loves you. Because he wants to strengthen you. And if he exposes puny faith in you, he's exposing it so that you can grow. So you can change that you can glorify him next time. He's exposed, so you can depend on him again. Because he delights to help you. He wants your faith to be strong. He wants your faith to be in the correct object. And when it is you can bring Him glory, even in the moments of greatest suffering. That's the cry of every honest Christian. Every time we pray, every time we are tested, I believe Help my unbelief. We're praying that in the glorious confidence that everything is possible for the one who beliefs you can only glorify God, if you fix your eyes, fixed on Christ. Let's pray and ask him to help us do that. Lord Jesus, we thank You for Your Mercy. We thank you that even when your disciples failed, you still were gracious to this father into this boy and you still rescued them. We thank you that even when we fail, we are not inhibiting your goodness in power. We think you that when you test us you do it not to shame us. Not to bring us to despair, but to bring us to the throne of grace. So we can find mercy and help in time of need. We thank you that you have suffered as we have suffered and that when we experienced trials we do so knowing that you are there to help us and that all things are possible for those who believe Help us, Lord to believe help us to fix our eyes on you. Pray these things in your name, amen.

Michael Dionne

Michael and Vanessa Dionne live in London with their three boys. They are Global Outreach Partners there, working with GraceLife London, a church plant in the heart of the UK city, to assist with pastoral and training needs.

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