Lord, I Believe: Help My Unbelief (Red Letters #44)

Photo by Jerry Zhang on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Mark 9. As you’re turning there, let’s give some context. Jesus has been on the mountain with Peter, James, and John. The New Testament doesn’t tell us which mountain this was that Jesus went up with His three chiefs, just that it is “a HIGH MOUNTAIN apart” (Matthew 17:1). The Bible Journey Commentary notes:

The mountain where the ‘transfiguration’ occurred was probably Mount Hermon, a short distance to the north of Caesarea Philippi – in the area where Jesus asked the disciples, ‘Who do you say I am?’. Mount Hermon (meaning ‘sanctuary’) is the highest mountain in Palestine (at 9233 ft / 2815m above sea level) and has a permanent white snowfield that provides melt-water during the dry spring and summer to feed the River Jordan. It was a sacred place to the early Caananites and was one of the ‘high places’ of pagan worship often revered during Old Testament times. Jesus chose this special place to show his personal and unique relationship with God, together with his close ties to the most respected early leaders of the Jewish religion, Moses and Elijah.”

Bible Scholars R.H. Fuller and John Lightfoot (as sited in Jesus And Archaeology (pg 176), author James H. Charlesworth) believed Jesus was transfigured on Mount Hermon, as it is the highest place located near Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13). The name “Hermon” is sometimes referred to as Baal-Hermon in Scripture, because it was considered a sacred place for worshipers of the Canaanite god Baal.

Jesus ascended a mountain that was one of Satan’s strongholds and there was revealed as the Messiah
to Peter, James, and John.

John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

God used Moses to bring in the Law, the Old Covenant of works. God sent His Son Jesus to bring to us the New Covenant of Grace. When Moses went up Mount Sinai, the Bible says:

Exodus 24:16 And the glory of the Lord abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

When Jesus went up Mount Hermon the Bible says:

Matthew 17:1 … after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart

In both cases, God spoke to Moses and His Son on the seventh day, from a cloud (Mark 9:7; Exodus 24:16). When God spoke to Moses, He gave him a Law that would teach His people about the Coming of the Messiah. When God spoke on Mount Hermon, He only spoke to Peter, James, and John, but revealed Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Law of God. There wold be no longer a need for animal sacrifice following Calvary, for Jesus would be sacrificed once and for all for those who believe in Him.

Hebrews 10:4, 9-14 … it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 9 then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God {My Father}. {God} taketh away the first {covenant, the Law of works}, that he may establish the second {covenant, the Grace of Jesus Christ}. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

Moses brought stone tablets down Mount Sinai containing laws for God’s people to live by. Mount Sinai was NOT in the Promised Land, but in Arabia (Galatians 4:25). Jesus Christ alone came down Mount Hermon. It is Jesus that we follow, and His Spirit that guides us in life and through this wondrous Book we call the Holy Bible. When Moses came down Mount Sinai the first time, he found Israel worshiping a golden calf (Exodus 32:7-20). Had Moses not intervened, God would have destroyed Israel, saying:

Exodus 32:10 … let Me alone {Moses}, that My wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

Brothers and sisters, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God (Hebrews 10:31).

Had Moses not intervened, God would have wiped out all of Israel for sponsoring and following idolatry. But Moses intervened, and God spared Israel. When Jesus came down Mount Hermon, followed by Peter, James, and John, Israel was once more worshiping a golden calf. Many Churches today worship golden calves. Many Pastors stand in pulpits and, like Aaron, Moses brother, take the riches of the flock, melt it down, and build a golden calf for the congregation to worship. What are the golden calves we worship today?

Denominations, and human creeds.
Buildings and places of worship.
Music, and musical styles.
Pastors and people that are so fallible.

Are you at Mark 9:14? Let’s read it:

Mark 9:14-18 And when {Jesus} came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. 15 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. 16 And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? 17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18 and wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.

God Is Not The Author Of Confusion

When Moses came down the mountain, he found Israel worshiping a golden calf. Carrying the Law on stone tablets in his arms, he cast them to the ground, breaking them. Israel broke the Law, and Moses illustrated it very graphically.

When Jesus comes down the mountain, He finds 9 of His disciples in the midst of confusion. As our Master comes into view the arguing crowd runs toward Jesus.

Jesus speaks first to the Scribes, the Bible scholars.

Vs 16 {Jesus} asked the scribes, What question ye with them?

The Scribes have written scripture, copying them for others, so often that they have memorized vast sections of Biblical text. They make no recorded reply to Jesus, but I can imagine their words were much like Aaron spoke to Moses:

Exodus 32:22-24 .. Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. 23 For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us… 24 And I {Aaron} said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.

God’s Pastors are not to please people, but to please the God Who saved them and called them.

So many religious people know the Bible, but do not know the God Who wrote the Scripture. So many are like the Scribes, who know the text, but not the One the text was written about. When Jesus came down that mountain, He is “the Beloved Son in Whom the Father is well pleased” (Mark 9:7). God said “Hear Jesus!” The Father commands us that we look to Jesus. All eyes on Jesus. Yet we often get sidetracked. The Scribes have no answer that God considered worthy to be recorded in our Bible.

Mark 9:17-18 … one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18 and wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.

This man approached Jesus kneeling, asking for mercy, praying for help for his son.

Matthew 17:14-15 … kneeling down to {Jesus}, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.

The man kneels down to Jesus, and puts his request before the Lord. If you compare Mark’s account to Matthew’s account, you see that this man approached the disciples before he approached Jesus. Perhaps he came to the disciples looking to find Jesus. When Jesus was gone away on the mountain, this father turned his attention to the disciples. He says:

I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not

We Too Often Rely Upon Ourselves, And Not The Lord

The reason that Israel demanded that Aaron make a false god to lead the nation was because Moses had been 40 days on Mount Sinai. Israel had been looking to Moses for leadership. Though Aaron was the High Priest, the people only trusted Moses. After all, hadn’t MOSES lifted the Rod of God over the Red Sea, and the waters parted. Hadn’t MOSES stood before the Rock in the desert and, striking the rock with his staff, hadn’t water gushed out? Aaron had done nothing to help the people, but MOSES was always there. When Moses left, after a few days the people became concerned. As time passed the people became confused, and then confusion moved into fear. We have lost MOSES. We need to DO something.

The nine disciples left at the base of Mount Hermon saw Jesus, Peter, James and John go up the mountain. We are told in Luke 9:37 that these four did not return until the next day. They didn’t have to wait for Jesus for 40 days – just ONE day. When this man comes up to the nine with his “son, which hath a dumb spirit (Mark 9:17), they attempt to cast out this spirit in their own power. Guess what? Nothing happens. Why? Because we need Jesus. We all need Jesus.

Faith is not a human ability. Faith is to trust in God, and to seek out God to fulfill our needs.

Illustrate Several years ago there was a lady in our Church in Lexington, Tennessee, who had a sister who had died of cancer. When she share the story with me, this precious lady was not bitter at God. She was bitter at the Church her sister was part of. When her sister was diagnosed with cancer, her Pastor and friends from the Church told her to “just believe. If you believe HARD ENOUGH your cancer will go away.” When the woman’s cancer continued to progress the Church, led by the Pastor, made her feel as if she were a failure as a Christian because she didn’t believe hard enough. Beloved, this is madness. You can’t just believe harder!

Illustrate Scottish Missionary John Gibson Paton, decided to translate the Gospel of John into the language of the natives of New Hebrides. He had a problem, though. The word “believe” is found in John 90 times – and the word “believe” was not in the language of the people. Dr. Paton was about to give up when one day a native came to his home. Exhausted, the native fell into a chair, and used the native word which means “I am resting all of me on this”. Dr Paton realized he could use this word for the English word “believe”.

To “believe” is to rest everything on God. To come, exhausted and spent, to The Lord Jesus Christ.

Beloved, we must never rely on ourselves for anything. We must rely on Jesus. To rely on anyone else is to rely on last – best. When we bring our brokenness and heartache to Someone for relief, we must not accept a lower case, little “s” someone. What does the Scripture say?

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Psalm 33:20 Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield.

Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

This man was in a terrible state because his son was suffering. He described his son’s condition. “He is taken, and torn. He foams at the mouth, and gnashes his teeth. He is losing weight, and will not eat.” This is such a frightening place to be. His “child is a lunatic, diving into the fire, diving into the water, seeking to destroy himself”. I have known many parents in this same condition. Their children, the ones that they dearly love, have fallen into a terrible state. Depression, cutting, self destructive behavior. Beloved, the child needs Jesus. We all need Jesus.

We need the Jesus Who is the Mediator of the New Covenant. We need the Jesus Who stands between us, and the Heavenly Father. We need the Jesus Who shed His Blood on Calvary for our sins. We need the Jesus Who cried out:

It is finished! (John 19:30)

Adam allowed sin to enter the world, and death by sin. When lust conceives, it brings forth sin, and sin, WHEN IT IS FINISHED, brings forth death (James 1:15). The devil led Adam into giving away our birthright, but Christ came to restore us to God. He is our Redeemer, our Savior, our Lord. We stand right before God because the Son was wronged on our behalf.

Oh, how we need to cry out to Jesus!

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You (Psalm 56:3). Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD (Jeremiah 17:7). Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD Himself, is the Rock eternal (Isaiah 26:4). When this man got where Jesus was supposed to be and Jesus wasn’t there, he looked to other fallen men for blessing. There is no lasting blessing in men. We are all fallible. But our Jesus is not.

Jesus addresses this man, saying:

Mark 9:19-20{Jesus} answereth {the father}, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 20 And they brought him unto him

Word Study Jesus responds to the father of the afflicted child, but also addresses the crowd. He calls them all ἄπιστος γενεά apistos genea, “unbelieving people”. Why is He calling them this? Because they are trying to fix the situation that this man is in with human power. Human power can only go so far.

Zechariah 4:6 … Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.

It is God Who is Sovereign. There is a limit on human wisdom, on human ability. We have so much technology that we begin to believe that we are gods. Yet we are not. Only God is God. Only Jesus can fix what is hurting us. “Bring him to Me”, says Jesus. Bring your problems. Bring your troubles. Bring them to ME, our Master says.

Matthew 11:29 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Can you rest on Jesus? The Bible says,

Mark 9:20-22 and when {the boy} saw {Jesus}, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21 And {Jesus} asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.

This young man is obviously no longer a child. He has been afflicted since he was a child. He has been destructive for years, and nothing that man has done seems to help. The man tells Jesus, “IF You can do anything, have compassion on US”. The suffering of the child is shared by the parent. What is interesting about this statement is that, in the Greek text, this “IF” is a First Class Condition. What the man is literally saying is:

IF, and I know you can, IF You will heal my child, it will help both of us!

Jesus tells the man:

Mark 9:23-24Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

What Jesus Is Asking Is,
“Will You REST FULLY On Me?”

Jesus isn’t asking this man to believe harder. He’s telling the man, “Will you rest fully in My arms? Will you surrender the entire situation – bleak as it looks – to Me”? Notice how the man answered Jesus:

Mark 9:24 {the father} said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief

The man is at a place of absolute surrender.

Tears are streaming down his face. He doesn’t care what people think of him. He could care less. He just wants his child to be healed. Beloved, Jesus Christ came to this earth for people just like this. He didn’t come for those who think they have it all together. Jesus came for the broken, the imperfect, the sinner in need of a Savior. Jesus said:

Mark 2:17 … They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

If you think you’re whole, Jesus isn’t for you. If you think you’ve got it all together, Jesus isn’t for you. This father is saying, “Jesus, help me as I am, a doubter!” We often lose the blessings of God because we will not rest in Christ. We flap about, trying to be better, trying to be stronger. But this is not what Jesus wants of us. He wants us to trust in Him, to rest fully on Him and His Word, believing that our God is able.

Mark 9:25 -27 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up;
and he arose.

Jesus is able. Our Jesus is able to do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20). There is nothing that our Lord cannot do, if we will rest fully upon Him.

A Private Word With Christ’s Disciples

The message today ends with these words:

Mark 9:28-29 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

What do “prayer” and “fasting” have in common? Properly understood, both prayer and fasting are a denial of self, and an absolute reliance upon God. As Christians and as humans we, at times, become too familiar with our God. We’re saved by faith, but many of us have gotten to where we are not passionate in our faith.

Apathy is, in many ways, worse than Atheism.

God allows trials in our lives to bring us face to face with situations we cannot overcome. I believe the Covid-19 Pandemic is a prime example of this. Too long in America, England, Canada, and in other prosperous nations we have relied on little “s” someones or somethings rather than relying on Jesus. Covid-19 has, thank God, brought us to the end of our resources. We are being reintroduced to faith, true Biblical faith.

We must rely on God our Savior. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1 NASB). Faith believes what God has said, regardless as to how things seem. Faith is to come to God believing that He is as He says, and that He will bless those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Faith believes in and rests in the Master. This is what saves a person. This is what keeps on saving a person.

We must come to Jesus Christ!

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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