Mark 9: 14-18: The problem of the powerless church.
“14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. 16 ‘What are you arguing with them about?’ he asked. 17 A man in the crowd answered, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.’” NIV UK
‘’…but they could not’’ (18).
The man had brought his son to Jesus, presumably when He was still up the mountain. So he got the disciples instead. The main ‘GP’ was out, so he was seen by some ‘juniors’. That shouldn’t have made any difference. Jesus had previously given them authority to cast out demons (Mark 3:14,15; 6:7), ‘’but they could not.’’
So here is a discrepancy between what Jesus would do, could do, and did do, and what the disciples couldn’t. It’s a tension I often feel. I regularly think about our church prayer list and feel, ‘If Jesus were physically here, He would probably heal most of these people, if not all.’ But He’s ‘up the mountain’ as it were. He’s seated at God’s right hand in heaven. We are down in the valley of need, and we regularly seem powerless. There is an incongruity about this when you consider what we’ve been given; when you meditate on all that we are and have in Christ
But things don’t have to stay like this. Things can change. In the remaining thoughts on this passage we will receive some pointers.
PRAYER: Lord, have mercy on us. Please forgive us for all the times we display impotence, when we should be moving in your manifest power.