“DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!” (Mark 9:14-32)
September 23, 2018 10:30 AM
Rev. Jeremy B. Stopford, Pastor
TODAY’S “SPECIAL”: “An English Teacher Funny”
When I was in grade 7, I used to ask a lot of questions.
One day, I asked my English Teacher, “Why do we ignore some letters in pronunciation? For example, the letter H in “Hour”, “Honor”, etc.?
My English Teacher said, “We are not ignoring them, they’re considered silent.” I was even more confused!
During the lunch break, my Teacher gave me her packed lunch and asked me to heat it in the Cafeteria. I ate all the food and returned her the empty container.
My English Teacher asked, “What happened? I told you to go and heat my food. You are returning me an empty container.”
I replied, “Ma’am, I thought “H” was silent.”
Look at Mark 9:14. “When they came to the other disciples…”. Who are the “they” here? Why, Peter, James and John. They had not been at a picnic. Rather, they were at a private lesson with the Savior “on a high mountain.” It was there that Jesus was “transfigured” before them – shown His actual glory (well, as much as could be seen without their dying!). An interesting passage, v. 7, where the Father says “This is my Son, Whom I love. Listen to Him.” The Father interrupts the lesson and the students’ confusion as to the lesson’s purpose with a lesson of His own: “listen to My Son. Don’t try to figure out the lesson. Simply listen.” A good study would be to look at the 3 occasions when the Father interrupts His Son’s earthly ministry: at His baptism when He says, “You are My Son, Whom I love; with You I am well pleased.”; here at the Transfiguration; and the third? In John 12 just before the cross. When Jesus prays, “Father, glorify Your Name”, the Father replies, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again” – a direct reference to both the cross and the resurrection.
That’s all extra. But here in Mark 9 the Savior brings these 3 disciples into a lesson involving the healing of a boy who is mute as a result of demon activity. The lesson should say, “Don’t try this at home”. And the lesson would be the same for us – EXCEPT for 3 major points. Let’s pray and listen and learn together. PRAYER
# 1 THIS GENERATION’S LIFE IS AN UNBELIEVING LIFE (V. 19)
This is quite a condemnation on an entire generation of God’s children. What does this condemnation mean? And is it true of us?
The Savior was stating that His disciples lacked faith. So what is faith? Is it a hope in what could happen if all circumstances go well? Is it a trust that if we do certain things, God will do certain things? Is it a wishful thinking that good things will happen to those who wait?
Hebrews 11 is entitled “the faith chapter” for a good reason. It not only describes those who walked by faith, but it also defines faith for us: “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…without faith it is impossible to please God. He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” True faith doesn’t believe in the results. True faith believes in the Giver of the results – and leaves the results to Him!
The disciples had no true faith. They could not try successfully to meet this hurting father’s need, much less the spiritual need of his son. They could not try this at home.
But the father believed the Lord Jesus could care for his son – his faith was little to nothing, but he asks the Son of God to help him overcome his unbelief. His attitude is the lesson the disciples needed to learn. And so do we.
# 2 THE POSSIBLE LIFE IS A BELIEVING LIFE (v. 23)
Remember, the Savior is in “teaching mode” before His disciples while on the road to the cross. After having condemned them as unbelieving, He responds to the father of the boy who has a mute spirit. The father had said, “if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” The NIV is using the word “pity” wonderfully. Some versions say “compassion”, but the word is stronger than that. It is indeed pity, a complete oneness with the plight of the son – as well as with the father!
It won’t be long before another Son, “as a lamb before his shearers is silent, so opened He not His mouth.” And the Father? The Father’s response to the sight of His Son becoming my sin causes His forsaking of His Son, and the Son’s plea, His own pitiful cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”.
By His teaching the boy’s father what the possible life is, the Lord Jesus was directly teaching His disciples – and us – that it is ok to struggle with unbelief; it is ok to admit that our faith is not strong. But it is NOT ok to stay that way. The Savior invited the father – and He in turn invites us – to admit our helplessness and to seek the Savior’s enablement to believe and to trust in Him alone.
Just think of it! We were broken vessels when we first came to the cross. And while we are walking in this world with the Savior, He acknowledges that we are in ourselves weak vessels who need not trust in ourselves but in Him. What a great Savior we have to love us as we are and to walk with us as we are! There is none like Him!
#3 THE VICTORIOUS LIFE IS A PRAYERFUL [AND DON’T FORGET FASTING!] LIFE (v. 29)
The disciples question, “why couldn’t we drive it out?” Is a good one. In the modern setting, “why couldn’t we have victory over sin?”, or, “why couldn’t we do great things for You, Lord?”, or, “why do I feel so helpless all the time?” “Why? Why? Why?”.
The Savior’s response is a most unexpected one – unexpected to His learning disciples. He in essence said, “you couldn’t. You couldn’t do this at home. You couldn’t do this at all.” And the reason? “No prayer.” No seeking the Father’s face. No true dependence. No true regular walk with the Father and dependence upon Him and His Word. You were simply going through what? The motions! Rituals! “If I go to church…if I say the right things…if I behave myself with an upstanding character…if I treat one another well…God will have to give me the victory.”
The child of the Father was not a praying child. He was a ritual going through the motions child. There was no communion of spirit with the Son. There was no stillness of the heart before God’s throne. There was no true dependence upon the Lord but rather upon what I can do.
But our good old KJV adds, “this kind can come out only by prayer…and fasting.” Once again, our NIV has a major issue. The authors of this version believed that the older Greek and Hebrew texts were the best texts – even though the older texts were not necessarily the purer texts. The KJV and its followers were based upon what is known as the “textus receptus” – believed to be the purest text of the Hebrew and Greek. We will unfortunately see this at least one more major time in our study in Mark.
But what about fasting? The Savior is telling His disciples – His learners – that the victorious life is both a prayerful life – the deprivation of self before the Father – and the fasting life – the deprivation of self before self. The result is a total resignation of self to a total dependence upon the Father. And the ultimate result is the victorious Christian life. Isn’t that what the disciples were hungry for? Isn’t that our hunger, too?
CONCLUSION vs. 30-32 All roads now lead to the cross.
The Apostle Paul would write: Galatians 6:14, “God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ – by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
The greatest lesson the Savior would share, for which He would attempt to prepare His disciples, was the cross.
True faith had to have a true focus. And that focus would have to be the Lord Jesus at the cross. For without the cross, there can be no substance in our faith. Our faith would indeed be ritual, going through the motions – a literal “do not try this at home” religion.
But with the cross, nothing is impossible.
Is your eternal faith in the Lord Jesus and in His death, burial and resurrection on your behalf?
Is your daily faith a walk with the living Savior?
Try it at home!
Close in prayer