Mark 9:14-29 “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”
When they returned to the other disciples, “He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them” (v. 14). For some reason the people were amazed to see Jesus, on the other hand Jesus was concerned with what the scribes were discussing with them (vv. 15-16). It would seem that they may have been discussing why the boy, possessed of an evil spirit, could not be healed by the disciples (vv. 17-18). Jesus’ response makes clear that the issue was a matter of faith, namely that generation that had none (v. 19). Upon meeting Jesus, the boy went into convulsions, and we learn that he had been this way from his childhood, the spirit seeking his destruction (vv. 20-22). Then Jesus got to the crux of the matter – if the father would believe for his son, “all things are possible to him who believes” (v. 23).
It is at this point that the man utters what has become very famous words – “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” (v. 24). The man had been granted just enough belief to know he needed the Lord’s help to believe fully. The man had to be brought to the place of desperation for the life of his son, for him to recognize his own need of the Saviour. Upon the man’s request Jesus commanded the unclean spirit, who was deaf and dumb, to come out of the boy, never to return (v. 25). The boy symbolizes the condition of all human beings. We need the Lord to help us believe, that we would stop being deaf and dumb to him and his word. Initially the people thought the boy was dead, because he was no longer controlled by that which was evil and unclean, and this is true of all who come to faith in Jesus as Lord (v. 26).
We die to that which is unclean and evil, and live by faith in him – death comes before life. It is Jesus who heals us and reaches out his hand to help us up to live (v. 27). When Jesus and his close disciples entered a house and were private, they asked him why they could not do what he did, and this is when they and we learn, that there are times when prayer and fasting are called for. The boy’s father knew the intensity of what was involved, because it concerned his own loved one. There are times when this kind of focused intensity is required, but we also learn from this story that we also need the Lord to increase our faith. The father likely had not eaten for days, for he could think of nothing but the healing of his son, and finally he prayed that the Lord would heal his own unbelief – fasting and prayer.