When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.” He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, 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 that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.”
Throughout Mark I’ve talked about how faith is necessary for miracles, and this story is a humbling example of this. Why couldn’t the disciples heal the boy? For two reasons: 1. The disciples faith wasn’t strong enough 2. The father’s faith wasn’t strong enough. For the disciples, I think their faith wasn’t strong enough in themselves. They couldn’t believe that they were really capable of such a thing! And can you blame them? I’m sure I don’t believe I could perform such a miracle. It seems the father, on the other hand, doubted God. He didn’t seem to believe anyone could cure his son. In the end I’m not sure if his faith suddenly came to him in Jesus’s presence, or if his desire for stronger faith was enough, and his willingness to admit his shortcomings. I guess such humility really needed extreme faith to say to Jesus’s face “help my unbelief.”
The purpose of this story is very straightforward, even if it’s a little hard to accept. With faith anything is possible. But without faith God cannot work in our lives the way He might want to. A relationship is a two way street, and if lack if faith is cutting off our half, God can only do so much.
Which really contradicts our perception of God as almighty. I mean, if He can do anything, why does He need our faith? I don’t know if Jesus really ever explains that. This is definitely a question I need to look deeper into, to ask someone about probably. Obviously I am understanding something wrong somewhere here.