Our services will be online for the time being. We are live streaming our sermons through YouTube (Christ Baptist Mokopane) and we’ll also continue to upload a pre-recorded audio version of the same message for those who can’t stream.

The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz this week for your edification and uplifting.

Click here: Mark 9:14-29, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: Mark 9:14-29, for the video feed, and follow the notes below. May the Lord speak into your hearts as you worship.

Mark 9:14-29, A Lesson on the Power of Faith:

  • I hope the title alone already grabs your attention! You see, this morning we continue to track through Mark 9 which brings us to a story with a very important lesson – a lesson on faith!
  • By now you should be aware of Christ’s sovereign power over all things and how He can redeem whomever He pleases. We have seen His power over the physical, and once again today, we see His power over the spiritual!

 

  • And so it is a fitting time to look at the doctrine of faith! According to 2 Corinthians 5, we walk by faith and not by sight. Galatians 2 says, “We live by the faith of the Son of God.” Hebrews 11 says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God, and faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
  • Faith is the dominating feature of the life of every Christian because we have to put our trust entirely in what we cannot see. Amen? We trust in a God we have not seen. We trust in a Christ we have not seen. We trust in a Holy Spirit we have not seen. And so we live by faith.

 

  • This doesn’t mean we’re blind, it is not blind faith; it is faith based on evidence. And the evidence for our faith is the Word of God, which tells us all we need to know about God and our relationship to Him.
  • Now understand this, the disciples had lived by sight. They had heard everything Jesus taught, right out of His own mouth. They had seen all of His reactions with their own eyes. They had seen every way that He had dealt with all sorts of circumstances.

 

  • And so, they have always had tangible evidence to place their faith. But here in this incident, there is a lesson on the power of faith that they really need to learn because it just so happens in this incident that Jesus is not there. In fact, for them, in a few months, Jesus won’t be there when they continue the ministry.
  • So the lesson before us is on the power of faith. And our lesson presents three scenes that illustrate there is only one true form of faith:

 

  1. Helpless Faith:
  • Text – 9:14-19
  • Explanation – In the absence of Jesus, Peter, James, and John, the remaining disciples have not been lazy. You’ll do well to remember that in the account of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus and those three disciples went up a mountain to pray and Jesus was transfigured before theme. And this happened to affirm who He is and that God’s plan is for Him to die.
  • So Jesus & the three disciples join the rest, only to find them overwhelmed with crowds, scribes, and the demon-possessed. Look at verse 15, “Immediately when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to meet Him.

 

  • Illustration – Now they’re not running to Jesus because He might’ve had glory on His face, like Moses did when he came down the mountain. Because in verse 9 Jesus said, “When you go down the mountain, don’t tell anybody what we’ve just experienced.” Their focus was Jesus was the healer, He was the wonder worker, He was the miracle man, and the crowds were always attracted to Him.
  • Verse 16 tells us why they so eagerly ran to Jesus. “What are you discussing with them?” The word “discussing” is often used to describe confrontations with religious leaders. Which is fitting as the disciples and the Scribes were heavily engaged, yet when Jesus confronts them, no one answers until somebody in the crowd volunteers to speak.

 

  • Application – Here’s the issue, it’s the child’s father who cries out to Jesus. The problem is the demon-possessed child couldn’t be effectively ministered to by the 9 remaining disciples. Matthew 17:19-20 adds the reasoning, “…the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith…
  • Now many believe Christian faith can be measured by some form of volume. However, Jesus calls them out for their helpless faith. Which is the real problem of why they couldn’t cast out the demon.

 

  • Conclusion – Their dependence wasn’t on God, their reliance on God’s power was put in themselves. They didn’t use the wrong method, or skip any steps… not that either of those two exist… they attempted to minister without any trust in God.
  • And that is helpless faith. It is a deserted faith. See, even though Jesus is fully God, He still prayed before every teaching opportunity and before every miracle. Go look at the times Jesus fed the crowds, or cast out demons, or healed someone physically – He prayed.

 

  • Bridge – Hence Jesus responds, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?” So it is not about having a certain size faith, it is about our faith and the source of our faith! See when we’re unsure, when we doubt, it isn’t because our faith is too small – it is because our faith isn’t in God.
  • Now our second scene will help clarify what this means in our daily lives. The second scene introduces…

 

  1. Frail Faith:
  • Text – 9:20-24
  • Explanation – I’ve spent some time discussing the doctrine of Demons in the beginning of our study through Mark. But it is good to be reminded. So, demons are spirit beings – originally angels but who rebelled against God and were cast out of His presence.
  • And they can take up residence in unbelievers. A Christian cannot be demon-possessed, as were are essentially – Holy Spirit possessed. Now this demon had caused the poor boy to be mute. And not only mute, but also deaf.

 

  • Illustration – But that isn’t all… back in verse 18 we read that the demon would seize him. And though the demon wanted to devastate the family by killing the boy, but it never was going to happen. The father had spent so much time to keep his son from being killed by this demon, rescuing the boy out of wells, and pools, and fires. It was a horrible way of life.

 

  • Application – But seeing Jesus, there was a glimmer of hope! And then he says this: “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” He’s not asking, “Will you,” he is concern if Jesus can, he is concerned about the possibility. This is frail faith.
  • He is aware that Jesus is willing to help him, but he isn’t sure if Jesus is able to help him. And Jesus said to him in verse 23, “If you can!” It’s not a question, that’s an exclamation. “If you can – are you kidding?” How can you even ask that? How can you doubt my power?
  • And so here is the lesson on helpless & frail faith, Jesus says “All things are possible to him who believes.” That’s the challenge of faith. Do you have the faith to believe that the Lord can do it? It’s not an issue of power for these men, it’s an issue of accessing that power that comes by faith.

 

  • Conclusion – Let me be clear, I am not saying you need faith to be healed. Jesus healed many people with no faith. Faith wasn’t always an issue. He healed lots of people who didn’t believe. But here, the lesson is about the power of faith because He’s leaving soon and the disciples are not going to have Him around. God’s power will still be available to them.
  • But they needed to learn how to trust in God’s power by faith, as Jesus won’t be around. This applies to us today too, Christ isn’t here – so we live by faith. His power is available to those who believe in Him, who trust Him especially when they cannot see.

 

  • Back to our passage, the father responds in verse 24. “I do believe; help my unbelief.” The poor man is honest he believes, but he admits his doubt. Is that enough? Yes! – as all things are possible to the one who believes – that is, all things within God’s will are possible, all things that are acceptable to God are possible.
  • But how much faith do you have to have? The Lord never expects perfect faith. In fact, there isn’t a measuring instrument to determine how much faith is necessary, the call is to believe! Our faith, in a sense, is imperfect faith because we believe with a measure of doubt mixed in.

 

  • Bridge – It is not a matter of having a great measure of mystical belief, it is a matter of trust in something tangible, someone real, and that is in Jesus.
  • Was it possible for the disciples to cast out the demon? Yes. However they had no faith – not weak faith – but no faith. What about the father’s frail faith? It was frail as he trusted that it could be done, he wasn’t sure if it could be done by Jesus. Our third scene clarifies the beauty of…

 

  1. The Power of Faith:
  • Text – 9:25-29
  • Explanation – The crowd begins to grow, and Jesus saw that folks were rapidly gathering and it’s time to act. So Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, not leaving anytime for the crowd to gather. You’ll see more of this in Mark, as Jesus starts to spend less time with public ministry and more time with the disciples.
  • Anyway, Jesus rebukes the spirit. Matthew says it came out of him at once, “Saying to it, “‘You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.’” Jesus commands the unclean spirit to come out of him and never return again. And the demon reacts the way the demon reacted in Mark 1:25.

 

  • Illustration – When Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, it threw the man into convulsions and the unclean spirit screamed through the man’s voice and came out. There was a final protest. And that happens here, after crying out and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out. But the Greek context describes that these convulsions were terrible, they were horrifying.
  • This is probably why everyone thought the boy was dead. But the boy was exhausted by the convulsions and trauma. And our compassionate Saviour responds, taking him by the hand and raising him up – he stood up. Luke adds that Jesus gave the boy back to his father. That’s how the story ends, what a happy ending… for the father and his son.

 

  • Application – Now, in verses 28 and 29, we see Jesus get to the instruction. They came to a house, perhaps signifying that this is a private occasion. Without hesitation, His disciples began questioning Him privately.
  • “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” this is a confusing time for them as they have done this before! They were sent out two by two and the Lord did all sorts of miracles through them. Jesus said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” This is key, many have misunderstood this to mean that there are different kinds of demons.

 

  • This ‘kind’ might be talking about all of them, all of the fallen angels. You cannot command a demon on your own accord. You need to depend on the Lord, you need to rely on His strength and grace.
  • They obviously tried to do it on their own; with their own strength. But no work for the Lord should be depended on the cleverness of our presentation, whatever we do for the Lord should be through the application of our trust in Him.

 

  • Conclusion – So it isn’t about the measure of faith, hence Jesus illustrates this with a mustard seed! He’s not talking about literally changing landscape. He’s simply saying life is full of overwhelming obstacles, and you will never have the power to control each one’s outcomes.
  • You should be working up your faith meter till it reaches mustard seed size, because being a believer, if we were to measure our faith, this is what you already have!

 

  • You already have little faith! And so, all it takes is a little faith, a little trust in the Lord. The boy’s father had this faith. It was frail, but it was sufficient.
  • And through this experience, Jesus shows these men that we need to trust in Him. How do we model our trust in Him? Through prayer and fasting! Through depending on God in all circumstances, not just with ministry occasions, but throughout our lives.

 

  • Bridge – How do I know that this is the lesson Jesus wanted to teach them? Well, earlier Jesus had given them the authority to do such ministry, which means that these guys could technically just cast out the demon. But if they did, it would be on their own strength and not on the Lord’s enablement.
  • Hence Matthew records that the demon is cast out by much prayer & fasting. The idea isn’t to run through a ritual, because 1) fasting hadn’t been implemented by the disciples as Jesus said that comes after the bridegroom leaves. 2) both prayer & fasting are actions that refer to our dependence on God. Therefore, Jesus tells them to pray.

 

Application:

  • So we’re not learning how to cast out demons with commands or rituals. We’re not learning how to change the earth’s surface as we try to beef up our faith. We are learning that we must trust the Lord will work in and through us with His power.
  • We are learning that it only takes a small leap of faith, of trust in Jesus, to experience the outworking of His will. Of course we should never doubt God’s power, and especially not His will, but on this side of heaven our faith will never be perfect, but it should be put in the one who is.

 

  • Therefore, as Paul says we walk by faith and not by sight, let us continually turn to the Lord in Prayer – seeking His will and making our requests known. And, if possible – take a day in the week, or in the month, and fast. It is a wonderful time of being reminded on how we can rely on God and we also get to experience His grace as we struggle with disbelief.