“Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” “O unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 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 him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Doug McCoy, Minister
First Christian Church of Pleasant Hill
A tightrope walker was performing at Niagara Falls in front of a crowd. After walking a rope across the falls a few times, this tightrope walker produced a wheelbarrow. He then asked if anyone in the crowd believed he could push that wheelbarrow all the way across the rope to the other side. Everyone in the crowd said they did. At this, the tightrope walker then asked if anyone in the crowd believed enough to ride in the wheelbarrow as he pushed it all the way across the rope to the other side. No one in the crowd did. They believed but not fully; they believed but not quite; they believed but not enough to get in the wheelbarrow.
Here in Mark 9, we see that very same phenomenon to varying degrees. The teachers of the law did not believe at all; the argument they were having with the disciples was probably an argument against Jesus. The people believed in Jesus, but only superficially; they merely believed He could work miracles. The disciples faltered in their belief when challenged; they were unable to heal the boy because they lacked faith. The boy’s father vacillated between believing and not believing; he admitted that he believed but needed help with his unbelief.
And we see this very same phenomenon to these very same degrees among ourselves as well. At times we are like the teachers of the law; at other times like the people; at still other times like the disciples; and at even other times like the father. And while this is understandable or natural (as perhaps evidenced by the fact that Jesus did not rebuke anyone too harshly here), it is not ideal. Ideal is full, complete, whole belief; ideal is getting in the wheelbarrow.
We believe, Lord. Help us with our unbelief. Help us have the faith to get in the wheelbarrow.