21 “. . . WITHOUT A DOUBT?”

Study Assignment: (Context) Mark 9:14:29                

 Concentrating on verses 9:22 b-24


“If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”  Jesus said unto him: “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”  And straightway, the father of the child cried out and said with tears                      “LORD, I BELIEVE; HELP THOU MINE UNBELIEF.”                        


         As we’ve done before, I ask you first to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider the context in which this study is couched.  Ask yourself what was going on?  How did Jesus handle the situation?  and what lesson(s) can we gain from the incident?


         Something was always happening around Jesus.  He never was One to be ignored.  In this instance, a crowd had gathered to listen to some of the “intellectuals” of the day.  The Scribes, who represented the best scholarship of that time and place, had a crowd gathered and were teaching them something.


         When someone realized Jesus was close by, word spread quickly through the crowd . . . and the Scribes’ just that quickly lost their audience.  Without a conscious effort to do so, Jesus interrupted that “lecture.”  It seems then, and now, that people really want to hear what Jesus has to say.  More than anything anyone else has to say.   Perhaps it’s because they somehow recognize He really does have “the words of life.”


         Jesus asked the Scribes what they were discussing, and before they could answer, a man surged forward out of the crowd and interrupted Jesus.


         It wasn’t the first time someone diverted Jesus from what was occupying His attention.  You may want to take time and consider what Jesus did with those interruptions.  You’ll discover that He was patient, always.  Instead of being irritated, frustrated, or angered, He used the situation in a way that left no doubt about His identity or His ability.


         When the man spoke, it’s obvious to me that he was making a desperate lunge at Hope.  He’d already tried about everything he knew, with no success.  He was suffering for his son.  Like you would do, he’d probably consulted other sources and had just about run out of options. But a father would try about anything to get help for his son. Wouldn’t you?


         Throwing caution and propriety to the winds, he blurted out:  “If you can do anything at all, have compassion on us and help us.”  Please.


         On at least one other occasion we have record of a similar occurrence:  Right after what we call “the Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus came down from the hills and a leper pushed in close and said: “Lord, IF You will, You can make me clean.”


         So, this is not the first “iffy” situation Jesus was forced to face.  Both requests just mentioned for help were tentative, to say the least.  They seemed to be saying, “I’m not sure you can help.  But if you can, please do.”


         If you are aware of the accelerating events which would soon result in Jesus’ public humiliation and execution, keep in mind, that some of the people who were listening, and watching Him like a hawk, were waiting for Him to make any mistake.  


         Jesus reversed the contingency:  In other words, He seems to say: “it isn’t a question of whether I can do something.  The real issue is this: ‘If you can believe, all things are possible.’”                                                                                                                     

         The little boy’s dad responded simply, directly, and honesty: “I believe. . . Help thou mine unbelief.” 


         What I’ve been asking all along is that you simply think about what is being written.  He could have simply answered:  “I believe.  Sure.  Right on! Anything you say.  Yes Sir.  Anything you say.”  Personally, I’m not bothered if you have honest reservations.  In my opinion, a person who has never doubted has probably never thought deeply or seriously about anything.  What matters most is that you exercise the faith you do possess.


           But you can’t fake faith.  Not in the presence of Jesus of Nazareth.


         So, this man was completely honest with Jesus, and with himself.  “I have some faith.  But I have some doubts, too.”  He admitted the truth and added a plea:  “Please help my unbelief.”    


         Does that sound in any way like what you feel sometimes? Do you ever feel as if you might be too hard on yourself?  Would it help if you understood that Jesus understands and accepts your humanity and honesty?  If you’ve been “burned” or disappointed badly on occasions and have some reservations because of that… Would it help if you understood that Christ appreciates your humble honesty and can use what you give to Him?


         There are a couple of sentences I memorized not long after I became a Christian.  You may know them.  Proverbs 3:5-6.  The idea is that if you trust in the Lord with all your heart. . . He will direct your path.  “Trusting” isn’t something that just happens automatically, or easily for some of us.   It involves your thinking, feeling, and deciding.  It   involves your intellect, your emotions, and your will.  Your whole “heart.” And, if you can’t do it with all your heart, do it with whatever “heart” or faith you can muster.  It is a decision.  It is a commitment. 


         Faith can grow.  If it is fed and exercised, it is bound to grow.  Not overnight, maybe, but gradually.  Sometimes painfully slowly.  Sometimes without your even noticing it.  Over time, acorns can become oaks!  I sure don’t feel like an oak today!  I’ve never been able to muster “perfect faith.”  The truth is, sometimes I’ve had a mixture of reliance and defiance.  Of faith and doubt.


         Jesus accepted the honest answer.  You do not need to feel judged or rejected if you don’t have “perfect faith.”  When I think about it, I realize that whether my faith increases or not depends upon whether or not I “feed it,” exercise it.  Doubt’s the same way.


         So, I determined to believe what I believe.  Without being narrow-minded, arrogant, or ignorant, I simply decided to trust God and what I believe is His Word.  And, just as deliberately, I decided to doubt my doubts.  Sounds a bit simplistic, admittedly, but I believe what I believe.


         Jesus said if you had faith the size of a mustard seed you could do some pretty amazing things.  How big is a mustard seed?  .  About the size of that period?  It’s almost like powder, almost invisible to the unaided eye.  How big does a mustard tree get?  Look at an acorn and then try to imagine it being becoming a mighty oak.  Imagine an atom….Imagine the powerful potential it contains.  A tiny bit has enormous power.


         Jesus doesn’t expect you to “fake faith.”  He accepts us where we are, uses what we submit to Him.  In this case we’re now considering, Jesus honored the man’s honesty, accepted his faith, and granted the request.  The point I’m attempting to make is that Jesus will meet you where you are, accept what you give, and use it in the right way.  He is not a harsh judge.  He’s our Friend.  Our Saviour. 


         Two things struck me almost immediately when I read this incident.  One is the importance of being honest.  Jesus is not afraid of the truth.  The other is that I can act on the faith I have             even if it is slight.  Faith is powerful.  Invest whatever amount you have in the right cause; specifically, invest it in Christ.


    And then don’t be surprised at the results                                                                                                                                                                               A servant, donkimrey


4 responses to “21 “. . . WITHOUT A DOUBT?”

  1. Great post, Don. I liked your “doubt my doubts” line. Many times we give too much weight to our doubts and not enough to what we believe.

    Ironically, I just commented on another site that Mark 9:24 was one of my favorite verses!

  2. Hi Neil,

    Not ironic at all! That’s the way it works… smile. Great posts!

  3. I’ve prayed Mark 9:24 many times myself, and completely agree with where you’re coming from here.

    In verse 19, though, doesn’t Jesus sound a wee bit frustrated and irritated though — with the disciples?

    Yep, it’s a wonderful thing to know we need only be honest with the Lord.

  4. I think the question for us is…what is our focus? What is it that we’re having trouble believing? That He’ll give us what we’ve convinced ourselves that we need, or what we actually need? What we’ve convinced ourselves must be the right answer, or the patience to wait for Him to work out things to the best for all involved who love Him and are called according to His (not our) purpose?

    That makes all the difference in the world. I don’t for a minute doubt that He’ll provide for the needs of His children including me, nor do I doubt that my definition of “need” is likely far different from His – but getting closer and closer every day to His as He continues to mold me and prune and correct and comfort as He sees fit. And when I get tired/ill/cranky/impatient, that’s where that honesty comes in (along with repentance for being tired/ill/cranky/impatient), and that’s where a little biblical reassurance goes a long way – which He has been faithful to provide. And all that combined helps to build that wonderful thing called “faith”.

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