Series: Bios of a Savior
Bible Passage: Mark 9:14-29
Other Pertinent Scripture:
Parallel passages: For Mark 9:14-28 see Matt. 17:14-19, Luke 9:37-42
Judges 7; Psalm 37:5-8; Mark 6:7-13; 2 Corinthians 3:5; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 11:1-3; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 1:3-8
The gospel of Mark is a documentary account of the life of Christ. Like other ancient biographies, which were called a BIOS or “life,” Mark’s account speaks to us about the actions and events of a man’s life. But this is no mere man Mark is presenting. This is the holy man who is wholly God, the one who has unique authority to call us to follow him.
As a church, everything about Stonehouse centers on this BIOS - his life, his teaching, his authority, his suffering and his victory. Join us as we dive into this fast paced narrative filled with astonishing events, dramatic responses and a give-all-that-you-are challenge from Jesus who stands at the center of it all.
a note on this week’s text:
When Jesus returns to the other disciples with Peter, James, and John he finds a crowd around them where arguing and confusion abound. It’s the exact opposite of what had just transpired on the Mount of Transfiguration. God’s glory was on the mountaintop, human brokenness is down below, this passage shows us what happens when the two meet.
Jesus soon finds out that the central issue causing this chaos is the inability of the disciples to heal a man’s son. With deep emotion Jesus puts his finger on the problem, it is faithlessness. The disciples, who had previously cast out unclean spirits, are unable to do the same in this situation and it becomes clear that they have placed their faith in themselves and/or their methods rather than in the power of God. The response of Christ shows us how he deals with us in our lack of faith. His kindness presses in to bring us to himself rather than cast us away in our struggle to believe. He welcomes us to prayer and to a confident faith in him.
a few items to help take a deeper look this week or share with others:
“How Jesus Helped His Disciples Increase Their Faith” by John Piper
Suggested discovery/discussion questions:
1. Originally this man was bringing his son to Jesus but Jesus wasn’t there so he asked the disciples to heal him. Jesus was the one being sought, the disciples were the ones who represented Jesus. Clearly they failed to do as Jesus would do but the fact still remains, the man turned to them when Jesus was not found. What are some ways that we represent Jesus? When people are seeking the truth about Jesus, do they turn to us? What do they find? What would it take for you to become a representation of Jesus before people? How is our church a representation of Jesus?
2. Jesus responds to the situation he finds with the crowd and the arguing disciples and scribes by saying, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you?” He says this to the disciples who had previously cast out unclean spirits (Mark 6:7-13) but were unable to do so here. The evaluation from Jesus is that the issue is a matter of faith. We often do the same thing the disciples did here, we think we can live this life by relying on ourselves, without any faith in God. We trust in ourselves or in worldly wisdom to address the multitude of problems in our world. We too have misplaced faith, we lack true faith. Are there ways that you feel confident in yourself and strong in your own abilities but are prone to forget that you need God? Can you identify a place in your life where you lean on your own understanding rather than putting your faith in God?
Faith is displayed through obedience and trusting in God even when things don’t go as we thought they would/shout. Are there ways that you are struggling to endure in obedience to God?
3. There is a significant comfort in this passage. At the point where Jesus asks the father about his son he utters the words, “If you can…” These words cause Jesus to stop and admonish the man toward faith. His response is transparent, “I believe; help my unbelief!” To simultaneously confess faith and unbelief is truly a moment of humility and one that we should be familiar with. The question for us is, what do we do when we struggle to believe? Do we hide unbelief from God or from our sisters/brothers? Are you afraid that you will be turned away by God if you admit unbelief? Where do you think this fear comes from? Ultimately, how does Jesus respond to the unbelief of this man? How then should we understand Jesus responding to us?
4. When the disciples ask why they couldn’t cast out this demon and heal this boy Jesus says that they needed prayer (some manuscripts say prayer and fasting which points to deep reliance on God and admission of our utter helplessness without him). It’s hard to fathom that the disciples didn’t pray but prayerlessness is a clear symptom of faithlessness which Jesus says was the main issue at hand here. How does a lack of prayer display a lack of faith? What lies are we believing when we do not pray? What are we communicating to God when we do not pray? Why are faith and prayer so connected? Are they connected in your life?
5. The glory of Jesus is seen not only on the mountain (Mark 9:2-8) but also in this low place. The compassion of Jesus reveals the amazing glory of Christ, that he “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant…” (Philippians 2:6-7). Jesus “came down” from the mountain and helped this family, in this picture we see a parallel to what Jesus did for the human family, for us. We were living in utter brokenness of sin and when we turned to those around us we could not find help and deliverance. Jesus was, and is, our only hope. This is ultimately where faith lies, in Jesus… that he alone can save and deliver and restore. Jesus is the ultimate thing hoped and thing not seen of Hebrews 11:1. The essence of faith is looking to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). What do we believe in when we put our faith in Jesus? What assurances are ours through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ? Have you put your faith in Jesus? If so, what exactly does that mean? How is this more than a mere Christian cliche for us?
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