“And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them…..” Mark 9:14

“Then one of the crowd answered and said: ‘ Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit…..So I spoke to Your disciples that they should cast it out, but they could not.'”  Mark 9:17,18

“When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit saying: ‘Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you come out of him and enter him no more!……Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up and he arose.”  Mark 9:25, 27

Nine disciples are standing at the foot of a mountain.  Jesus is not there with them.  He has gone up into the mountain with Peter, John and James.  The remaining disciples do not know why Jesus has gone up into the mountain or exactly when He’ll return.  However, at least at this time, having been with Jesus for close to three years, they know that He sometimes goes away on His own.

Jesus and His disciples are also known to the people.  There are at least some of the people who know Jesus for the miraculous healings that He has performed.  There are also some who seem to know that Jesus disciples also have amazing power.  Maybe it was when Jesus sent them out, two-by-two and gave them the power to heal and cast out demons, that some had heard of.  So, for whatever reason, people would come to the disciples and they had high expectations when they did.

That’s what is going on here in the Gospel of Mark.  A man has heard that Jesus is in the area. The man takes his son and sets off to find Jesus.  The man’s son can not hear or speak and often has convulsive fits.  The man’s son has a demon.  The man finds Jesus disciples and at least tells the disciples of his troubled son.  We know that the man must have felt that the disciples had power as well as Jesus, for when the man does not find Jesus with His disciples, the man asks the disciples to heal his son.

So let’s put ourselves in the shoes (or sandals) of the disciples for a moment.  They have been with Jesus.  They have seen Jesus heal.  They have actually been given the power to heal themselves.  They have rejoiced at being successful in casting out demons even when Jesus was not in their presence.  So of course when this man brings his possessed child to them, they are confident that they will be able to cast out the demon and heal the child.  Perhaps they even confidently proclaim their abilities to the father of the stricken boy.  Imagine then, their initial confusion, turning to bewilderment, then frustration and even perhaps fear as either one-by-one and then maybe as a group, they try in vain to cast out the demon.

Then Jesus arrives unexpectedly.  He asks what is happening.  When he hears the story, Jesus seems frustrated at the whole situation, calling all assembled a “faithless generation”.  He takes the child aside and with seeming ease, vanquishes the demon and returns the child, whole and well, to his father.

Now please, Dear Sisters and Brothers, do not misread my intent here.  I am not blaming nor judging the disciples for their attempt and subsequent failure to heal the boy.  What I’m pointing out is that we are very blessed to experience many things in our lives through the Power of Jesus Christ and our relationship with Him.  We may have the privilege of Jesus Christ using us to help others in need.  As our relationship with Christ grows, it may be that we are used more and more.  Yet we must remember with these successes, who it is, who is the true source of our power to help.  We must also be very aware of who it is and the power that they have who is arrayed against us as our enemy.  I am not claiming that the nine disciples were either boastful, in this case, or not being humble and that is why they could not defeat the demon.  But the fact of the matter is, they had come up against an enemy that they and I’m absolutely sure me, if I was there, could not defeat on their own.  The fact is, we are not Jesus Christ.  We have limitations.  I believe it is essential that we remain mindful of those limitations and allow them to keep us humble in the face of trials and tribulations; whether ours or others of those we are trying to help.

Then Jesus comes!  Jesus Christ is not limited.  No power can defeat Him, not even death.  Jesus Christ will come and in His presence, all things are possible.  We must also keep this fact in the forethought of our minds.  For we live in a world that celebrates individual achievement.  There is even the old saying: God helps those who help themselves (which by the way is not a quote from the bible).  This saying can leave us with the sense that God plays the role of partner or perhaps coach, but the primary responsibility is ours.  I believe the bible expresses much the opposite view.  God is no mere partner.  Jesus Christ is not just a wise life coach.  Our Heavenly Father is the creator of all things; all powerful, all knowledgable.  Jesus Christ is the King of all kings.  It is by Their unfathomable Mercy and Love that They decide to interact with us the way they do.  However, it is not because we somehow deserve it.

We must resist the temptation to be prideful; to believe what the world would have us believe, that as people of faith, we are somehow intrinsically better than the world.  We must remain humble knowing that nothing can happen outside the Will and Presence of Jesus Christ and with the Presence of Jesus Christ; yours and my victory is for certain.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, the world teaches us to be proud, to stand tall, to look down on those we judge to be inferior, to take credit for those things we would call our achievements.  Help us Dear Father to resist the temptation of pride and instead; humbly call upon and rely on Your Presence to be our power.  Be with us when we cry out to You, Merciful Father, that the world would see Your Power manifested in the answer to our supplications.  That through our personal humility and Your Power poured out upon us; we would live lives that praise Your Most Holy Name.  In Jesus Christ our Lord we pray.  Amen