“Help me overcome my unbelief!”
Today is Transfiguration Sunday, focusing on Christ’s transfiguration on the mountain top where Moses and Elijah appeared with him, but God has directed me to focus on what was going on down there at the mountain bottom. We all know that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law represented by Moses and the prophets represented by Elijah and that we should “listen” to him as the Son of God, not to Moses or Elijah. That is the brief lesson I can give you about the transfiguration of Jesus.
Now let us go to our chosen text today. Verse 14, Jesus and his core disciples, Peter, John, and James, who had accompanied Jesus on the mountain top witnessing the transfiguration of Jesus, were coming down to the other disciples and saw a large crowd of people arguing with them. We are fully informed concerning the cause of the dispute and argument between the disciples and the scribes. To Jesus’ question in v. 16, “What are you arguing about with them?” Someone from the crowd yelled out the answer (v. 17). That “someone” was the father of a demon-possessed boy. He calls Jesus “teacher” and informed Him that his son has a spirit that makes him mute, he cannot speak. From v. 25, we can also know that the boy was deaf as well because of a demonic spirit. Verse 18 informs us that “whenever this demonic spirit seizes him,” it throws him down, he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. Later in verses 21-22, we are informed that he has been like this since childhood; it had often thrown him into fire and water, and it tried to destroy him.
Let us pause here for a minute! This time and age, people do not want to believe that there is such a thing as demonic spirit. But there are demonic spirits everywhere around us. Let’s look at verses 14 thru 22 closely. We can see that this demon-possessed boy was mute and deaf. This boy was thrown into fire and water by the demon to destroy him, over which this boy had no control.
If we cannot speak what God wants us to speak, the language of love, kindness, gentleness, compassion, and understanding, it is the work of a demon. If we cannot listen to the voice of God, the promptings of the Holy Spirit, it is because of the demonic spirit that closes our ears and robs us of speech. Do we know that God speaks clearly and loudly through the nature around us and through the scripture? Romans ch. 2 and 3 give the full account for that. Do we hear God’s voice of love beaconing us to the presence of God? If we cannot listen to the voice of God, do not feel anything even if we see the beautiful sky, trees, birds and flowers around us, seeing how glorious God’s work is, we are deaf and blind by impure spirits. Even if we read the Bible, yet we cannot hear what God speaks to us to become more like Christ, we are, indeed, deaf. If our words are nothing but of criticism, curse, discouragement, or hopelessness, demon spirit possessed our tongue, robbing us of speech of love, blessing, encouragement, and hope. If we have no control over our actions that destroy us? It is the work of Satan.
There is a professor, a very sharp and critical thinker, in Korea. He wanted to destroy Christianity thinking that Christianity is the source of all sorts of conflicts in the world not knowing how to live with the others in harmony, insisting that Christ is the only way. He worked very hard and came very close to pass the law prohibiting Christians to evangelize people at work, especially at schools and government offices. Not too long before the finalization of the law, Jesus came to him a very powerful way. Without Jesus saying anything to him, he knew instantly it was Jesus who came to him and simultaneously he knew that he is doomed. He was overwhelmed so strongly with the sense of who God is and how futile and insignificant he is before God. He fell prostrated on the ground not having any strength to raise his body up. After that experience, the first thing he noticed was how beautiful the world God has created around him. He said that all his life, he had never noticed how beautiful flowers, trees, birds, the sky, the sun, and the moon were. It became the new heaven and earth for him. Even the noises little children were making sounded so very heartwarming and heavenly, the noises he hated up until then since they prevented him from concentrating on his studies. Every time he sees crosses at churches in the street, he could not help but shedding tears out of gratitude. He was a changed person after Christ met with him. From being mute, deaf and blind, he was delivered. Now he speaks the words of love, blessings, and encouragement. He listens to the voice of love through nature and the scripture. He sensitively responds to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, the inner voice in his heart.
Do we have some sort of addiction or an unfreedom in our lives and experience the sense of imprisonment and being out of control? Do we find ourselves speaking constantly words of putting others down out of bitterness and negativity? Do we find ourselves mute and deaf to the cries of needy? Definitely, demons are at work in us.
Secondly, disciples had failed to cure this demon-possessed boy and the scribes were giving a hard time to the disciples over their failure to heal the boy. The scribes might have used their lack of success as an opportunity to attack Jesus and question His authority since they were Jesus’ disciples. In other words, their failure reflected badly not only on them but also it reflected badly on Jesus. There is much for us to consider here. 1) We never sin in a vacuum. Our spiritual failures usually have spiritual fallout. We hurt ourselves, we hurt those we love, we hurt the gospel and we hurt the reputation of Christ! In countries where there are many people who do not know Christ, they first get to know Christ through believers in Christ, seeing their conducts, –speeches and behaviors. When I was living in Korea, I heard people saying, to my shame, that Christians are the worst kind of people to trust. A person I knew said, “They cheat, they lie, they swindle. It is an elder of a church swindled my money. I do not want to deal with Christians ever!” If we fail, we might hurt a refutation of Christ. 2) Without Jesus, we ought to fail. Disciples tried to heal the boy without Jesus, without being connected to his power. Verse 29, without prayer and fasting it cannot be done. Prayer and fasting are the means to be connected to God, depending on God.
We need Christ when we are confronted with the demonic. In our own strength, we are helpless against the supernatural powers of the demonic. Do we know that we are engaging in a spiritual battle with Satan every day, who tries to inflict pain, suffering, and death? So we need Jesus every day and every moment. Spiritual victories in the past are no guarantee we will be victorious today, especially when we operate with faith in ourselves rather than faith in Christ. Mark 6:7-13 tells us that when Jesus sent his disciples two by two giving them the authority over impure spirits, “They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” So from this, we know that they had experiences of casting out demons and healing the sick in the past. So they might have tried to cast out a demon from this boy, but they had failed. Because they tried to do it without Jesus. They might have thought they were the ones who drove out demons and healed the sick by their power in the past. No! It was Jesus who gave them the authority over impure spirits, the scripture says, not they had power on their own!
Lastly, we see this father who had to see his own son being thrown into fire and water, being robbed of his speech and hearing from very early on in his boy’s life. He might have run after the place from the place, from person to person to cure his boy only to be disappointed. How frustrated and devastated he must have been up until he came to Jesus for the healing of his boy! This father told Jesus how he and his boy were being inflicted pain and suffering because of a demon spirit that sought to kill his boy. He told Jesus he tried everything but failed. Even your disciples failed. “Now I came to you, if you can, would you, please, heal him?’ We can say that he was not sure whether Jesus could heal his boy. But more likely, I would like to say, he did not want to be disappointed again. He did not want to put his hope so high only to be disappointed again. Because that had been his past experiences. Coming to Jesus might have been the last resort he turned to after all other attempts failed. To him, Jesus says, “What do you mean, if you can? Everything is possible for one who believes!!” Do you know you are dealing with now? You need to believe that I am the healer and the author of your life! This father cried out immediately, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” I do want to believe. I want to believe that my son can be healed. Help me to overcome my unbelief! If my feeble belief in you is not enough, help me to increase my faith in you! He cried out!! His helpless plea to help him to believe was heard. Jesus healed his boy. Jesus raised his boy from the ground, who was lying there like a corpse. Jesus raised him to life from death.
Likewise, God wants to heal your children and your loved ones. Those of you who have been frustrated so far with so many attempted failures in the past, Jesus wants you to bring your loved ones to him on your knee so that they can be healed. With just little faith you have like this father, if you come to Jesus, Jesus can help you increase your faith and heal you, and your loved ones. Amen and amen!!