BATTLES IN THE VALLEY!
Last time we saw in Mark chapter 9, Jesus on the Mount of transfiguration. For Peter, James and John, it was a mountain top experience. In fact, Peter wanted to remain on the mountain top. He wanted to build some dwelling places and never come down. But understand this, mountain top experiences are worthless if there is no application in the valley! And that is what we are going to see in our study tonight. As soon as Jesus and the 3 apostles who were with Him on Mount Hermon, get off the mountain, they are encountered with demonic forces and hopeless man. There will be another lesson Jesus is going to give to His men to show them their faith needs to be placed in Him! And the lesson we should take with us is this, in the absence of Jesus we must live and work by faith in Him and that is expressed through prayer!
1. Now keep in mind that if they were up on Mount Hermon, which has an elevation of some 9,200 feet, it would take them at least 1 day to go up and 1 day to go down. And as they get off the mountain, the other 9 apostles are getting blasted and put down by these professional religious people, the Scribes. And these religious people loved to pick on the disciples of Jesus because they could beat these guys up. They could win the arguments with them at least at this time. But, if they came against Jesus, they knew they would lose, they have had experience with this already.
2. What is really sad is what they were happy about, speaking of the Scribes. As we are going to see, these 9 apostles were trying to cast out this demon from this young boy, and they couldnt do it. And these religious leaders were not interested in helping this boy, nor could they on their own do anything for him, but they were happy because the followers of Jesus couldnt do anything either. And so, they are trying to discredit Jesus in front of all these people, and to discourage these 9 men who didnt go up Mount Hermon with Jesus.
3. Now as all the commotion is going on, this big dispute, no one was aware that Jesus had come down from Mount Hermon and was standing right next to them. And once they saw Him they ran to Him and greeted Him. Maybe they recognized something the apostles forgot, only Jesus can heal!
1. Now you have to love Jesus here. He looks over at the Scribes and asks them "Why are you picking on My boys? What is your problem man?" Jesus comes to our aid. He will fight for us. He will stand up for us when everyone else scatters. He will never leave us or forsake us! As Paul said in Hebrews 4:14-16, "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
2. Did the Scribes answer Jesus question? NO! Why? Because they knew they would lose this battle, so they just keep silent. They had nothing to say at this point and really, they are not going to have anything to say.
3. But there comes a voice from the crowd. A father, in desperation, explains that he has a son who is demon possessed. And Matthew tells us that when this man saw Jesus, he fell down before Him. He was broken, He felt completely hopeless! Luke tells us that this was his only son. And these spastic activities, this demonic spirit tried to kill this boy by throwing him into the fire and into the water. And these were frequent happenings that were taking place. And Im sure the father realized he could not save his boy, protect him forever from this demon killing him, and he didnt know how long he had left. And so this father brings his son to these 9 apostles, and they cant do anything for him. They cant cast out this demon. Again, a hopeless situation.
4. One more point before we move on. This demonic spirit was trying to destroy this boys life, and he was doing a good job. And he now is trying to kill him. Understand this, that is what the devil wants to do to people, he wants to destroy them. Dont fall prey to his wicked schemes. Remember what Jesus said in John 10:10, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." Dont believe the lie of Satan, only Jesus gives us that abundant life, Satan only comes to destroy, steal and to kill!
1. Jesus, in speaking to His 9 apostles that tried in vain to cast out this demon, calls them faithless! They didnt even have a little faith. Isnt that a little harsh? Remember in Mark chapter 6, as Jesus sent His men out two by two on a little missionary journey, Mark tells us "And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits...And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them." Mark 6:7, 13. What happened now? I think the violent actions the demon was manifesting in this boy caused the disciples to take their eyes off of Christ and what He would do and is able to do, and they placed their eyes upon this demon and what he was doing. And that destroyed the faith that they had. They were paralyzed with fear, which is the opposite of faith! And so Jesus rebukes them for their unbelief!
1. What was a distraction to these men, did not distract Jesus. He was totally focused on the work and the Father who sent Him, even though there was this dramatic demonstration of demonic power right before Him. May we not forget what John tells us, "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." I John 4:4.
1. Did Jesus need to know how long this boy was afflicted with this condition? Of course not! Then whey did He do it, why did He ask the question? I think it was more for the father, and for the crowd, to show them the helplessness and the hopelessness of the situation that was before them.
2. And maybe because of the failure of those 9 apostles, this man was a little shaken, his faith weakened by what he saw or didnt see. The reason I say that is because he says to Jesus "But if you can do anything..." He was hoping for anything, and notice in the next verse what Jesus is going to do. He is going to turn that question around.
1. Of course all things are possible with God, that is not the question. It is a question of "Do you believe?" Now the faith teachers take this and run with it. They will tell you that if you believe, if you have enough faith, you can have whatever you want - money, cars, boyfriends, girlfriends - just name it and claim it by faith and it is yours! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! This is not a free ticket for you to obtain anything and everything that you want. Jesus is trying to get this mans faith to grow, and He is telling him "You may not have faith in these men, but what about me? Do you have faith in Me? Can you trust in Me?" Now understand that if we pray according to Gods will we will get what we are praying for. In I John 5:14-15 we read "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." Thus, I firmly believe it was the will of God for this boy to be healed. Never forget that all is possible according to the will of God! We need to trust in Him for great things, not to build up our kingdom, but His!
1. This is one of those great responses towards Jesus we see in the Scriptures. This man still had some faith, and it may have been just a little, but he did recognize that he did believe God could heal his son, but he needed more help with his faith. You see, our faith is only possible with the help of the one who is the object of our faith, Jesus Christ, and this man recognized that fact. Also, weak faith is still genuine faith. All Jesus is looking for is a little faith and He can use that to move mountains in your life!
1. As this demon possessed boy convulsed on the floor, the crowds gathered to see what Jesus was going to do. And Jesus cast the demon from him and commanded him not to go back in. As a child of God we are set free from sin and we can never be demon possessed because Gods Spirit dwells within us and He will not share the throne of our heart with anyone, not even and especially demons! Yes, you can be oppressed by the demonic world. How do we overcome that? By looking to the Lord. Psalm 103:6 says "The LORD executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed."
1. Now he wasnt dead, he looked dead, and the people, seeing this boy just laying there limp, thought he was dead.
1. What a beautiful picture we see here. This boy who was being destroyed by this demon is restored by Jesus, and Luke tells us that as Jesus lifted the boy up, He presented him to his father. Can you imagine the emotions that were going on. The cheers, the hugs, the tears, the apostles going "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!..." And in all of this, what do you think the Scribes were doing? They were slithering away like snakes. They should have been shouting "Jesus! Jesus!" But instead, because it went against their man-made, narrow religious beliefs, they left, saying nothing!
1. Now privately, these 9 apostles wanted to know why they couldnt heal this boy. They wanted to know what they did wrong. They said "Be HEALED! in the name of Jesus." But that didnt work. Maybe they should have said, "Be healed in the NAME! of Jesus." Or "Be healed in the name of JESUS!" It is not how you say it, or the words you use, or the inflection in your voice, but the object of your faith! You see, Jesus shows them the problem - they didnt pray or fast in this situation. 9 guys, 8 could have been praying and fasting while the other guy was dealing with the situation. You see, prayer attaches you to God and fasting detaches you from the flesh. And dont wait for the crisis to occur, but make it part of your lifestyle. Prepare before hand with prayer and fasting so you can be ready for battle.
2. In Matthew chapter 17, we see this story told again. And in verses 20 and 21 we read "So Jesus said to them, Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, Move from here to there, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting." The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds and yet it grows into a large herb plant. We can get two points out of this. First of all, it is not the size of your faith but the object of your faith that is important - JESUS! Secondly, faith is suppose to grow and it will as you study the Word of God and apply it to your life. You see, you cant live off of yesterdays blessings. They were powerless because they lacked the daily devotion of depending upon Jesus.
3. Why werent these 9 men praying and fasting? Why did they lack the power to cast out this demon? Another reason may be because they were jealous of Peter, James and John because they got to go up with Jesus on Mount Hermon, and they didnt. It wasnt fair. They should have been allowed to go with them. And since they were left out, maybe they became lax in their spiritual discipline and if that happens, the enemy will take advantage of the situation and cause all kinds of disturbance all around you, making you ineffective in the work. Remember, the relationship needs to be established for the victory to be won. And remember the lesson we started out with this evening, IN THE ABSENCE OF JESUS WE MUST LIVE AND WORK BY FAITH IN HIM THAT IS EXPRESSED THROUGH PRAYER! Dont leave home without it!