August 5, 2009

Help to Overcome Disbelief

When Jesus sent His disciples from village to village to preach, heal the sick and cast out demons (Mark 6:7-13Mark 6:7-13
English: World English Bible - WEB

7 He called to himself the twelve, and began to send them out two by two; and he gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a staff only: no bread, no wallet, no money in their purse, 9 but to wear sandals, and not put on two tunics. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter into a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 Whoever will not receive you nor hear you, as you depart from there, shake off the dust that is under your feet for a testimony against them. Assuredly, I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!” 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They cast out many demons, and anointed many with oil who were sick, and healed them.

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), the disciples appear to have been successful. But while Peter, James and John were with Jesus on the mountain, the other disciples were met with a challenge. A man brought his son to them to be healed of a spirit that made him mute and subject to seizures. The disciples were unable to drive out this spirit.

Jesus’ initial response was unexpected: “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” These disciples, who Jesus taught and sent out, had been successfully performing these acts as He taught them, but Jesus sounds like He was scolding them.

In this passage, belief seems to be central to the problem:

Certainly the spirit believed, too. Because at Jesus’ command it made quite a scene as it left the son. (Mark 9:26Mark 9:26
English: World English Bible - WEB

26 Having cried out, and convulsed greatly, it came out of him. The boy became like one dead; so much that most of them said, “He is dead.”

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) and the gathering crowd believed.

Maybe the disciples had become a little over-confident in their success, and had neglected their training by failing to pray prior to attempting to cast out the spirit? Had they obtained the confirmation of belief from the boy’s father?

How about you? What unanswered prayer may be rooted in your own unbelief, or in the lack of belief of those with whom you have shared your prayer? Have you affirmed, “I do believe!”, and have you prayed that God might help you overcome your unbelief?