Everything is Possible

Mark 9:14-29

Parallel Texts:  Matthew 17:14-20; Luke 9:37-43

When Jesus, Peter, James and John returned to the other disciples after the transfiguration, there was a dispute in progress; the teachers of the Law were arguing with the disciples. The people in the crowd see Jesus and come running to Him. “What are you arguing about” He asks, but before they could answer a man steps up and begs Jesus to help his son who was possessed by an impure spirit. Mark does not record for us what the argument was about.

The man goes into a fair amount of detail regarding his poor son’s plight, and tells Jesus that His disciples on the scene were unable to drive the demon out of the boy, and asks Jesus to do it. Jesus’ answer is puzzling:

“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

Mark 9:19

Mark doesn’t elaborate on what Jesus was referring to here. When the spirit saw Jesus, it went wild within the boy.

Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Mark 9:21-24

The demon is going crazy in the boy, people are watching, nobody has answered his previous question, and yet Jesus seems as cool as a cucumber. That poor father tells Jesus of the horrors of the boy’s life, can you imagine what that must have been like? Then the man says something perfectly reasonable, but Jesus doesn’t seem to think so. “If you can do something.” Nobody else had been able, but Jesus isn’t just anybody else!

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Everything is possible? Really? Do you believe that? Why am I so often told so much about what can’t be done?

Well the man made a snap decision: He was going to believe; he even realized that he might need help moving forward, but he was going to start believing right then and there.

Jesus drove out the demon right then and there.

As I read this, I see that we have come face-to-face with one of those moments when we need to ask ourselves if we really believe that what we believe is really real.

Well, do we?

The disciples ask Jesus why they had been unable to drive this spirit out of the boy, and Jesus seems to give an almost nonchalant answer: “This kind can come out only by prayer.” What did Jesus mean by this remark?

The text doesn’t say.

I’ve read commentaries in which the author professes to know exactly what Jesus meant by that, and while confidence is all well and good, the truth is that we can only speculate and wonder.


About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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7 Responses to Everything is Possible

  1. Perhaps it is just speculation but I think that there is a link between our level of faith and our lifestyle of prayer. One does affect the other.

  2. Diamand says:

    Don, I have read elsewhere that even a man of little faith, ” the faith of a mustard seed” can move mountains/ translated into do anything; does that not include drive out demons. How does this work with your text that seems to say that they had little faith and therefor could not drive out the demons?

    • Don Merritt says:

      Hi Diamand!

      Interesting question. Do you suppose that Jesus was using a touch of hyperbole when He spoke of moving mountains? I’m guessing that He was since I haven’t heard of any mountains being literally moved recently. Yet I have heard many times of metaphorical mountain-moving… As for driving out that certain demon, I wonder if they simply were not yet mature enough in their spiritual understanding to recognize what they were dealing with in that particular instance… any thoughts?

  3. Joey E Ploof says:

    “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Everything is possible? Really? Do you believe that? Why am I so often told so much about what can’t be done?

    ^^^That one line is challenging a lot of “I can’t” talk in my own head lately. Thank you!

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