10. Just Repentant Helplessness to Access the Presence of God

Mark 9: 14-18

A big argument is going on among the teachers of the law and a crowd of other people and Jesus’s disciples.  The boy in this story is possessed by a demon, making him deaf and mute and causing convulsions.  It is an overwhelming physical and spiritual condition that not only renders the boy helpless, but also his father, the disciples, and the teachers of the law.

Mark 9: 19-29

The disciples are trying to exorcise a demon. But they have been trying to exorcise it without praying.  How arrogant, how clueless they are about their inadequacy to deal with the evil and suffering of the world.  The disciples did not see how weak and proud they were.  

Only one figure in this entire scene is acknowledging his weakness, admitting that he does not have what it takes to handle the suffering and evil that he faces — the father of the boy.  

This man asks Jesus, “Would you heal my son?”  And Jesus says, “Everything is possible for him who believes.”  That is, “I can do it if you can believe.”  The father responds, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” — that is, “I am trying but I am full of doubts.”  Then Jesus heals the man’s son.  This is very good news.  Through Jesus, we don’t need perfect righteousness, just repentant helplessness, to access the presence of God.

The boy’s father says, “I am not faithful, I am riddled with doubts, and I cannot muster the strength necessary to meet my moral and spiritual challenges.  But help me.”  That is saving faith — faith in Jesus instead of in oneself.  

Note from King’s Cross: Understanding the Life and Death of Jesus

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