Luke 8 starts with teaching, but this will be followed by several amazing examples of Christ’s power. Jesus will encourage us to share the word with hope and to trust him when things begin to look hopeless.
Jesus has just come down from the Mount of Transfiguration with three of his disciples. Now he finds the other nine stuck in a situation for which they can do nothing helpful. It seems a father has brought his son to Christ’s disciples. The symptoms the boy exhibits are similar to epilepsy, but are actually caused by a demon, When the father asks Jesus if perhaps he can help, the following interaction ensues.
23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Isn’t this where we so often find ourselves? We believe Jesus has the ability. We pray to God, knowing he is all-powerful and all-good. And still we doubt. Our faith falls short. We lack something in the area of true belief.
Eckhard Schnabel, in his Tyndale NT Commentary on Mark, describes the man, “He acknowledges his lack of faith, which is not an unwillingness to commit to Jesus’ power but an inability to believe in the face of immense odds, given that the nine disciples were unable to heal the boy.”
The reassuring thing is that this admission on the part of the father, “I believe; help my unbelief!” turns out to be enough of an expression of faith that Jesus heals the son. The demon doesn’t come out without a fight, but it is a fight that Jesus cannot help but win.
We need to be willing to express our faith in Christ and the lack thereof. Our belief and unbelief which somehow coexist in our torn and divided hearts. It is not a rejection of Jesus so much as a wavering acceptance with a desire for the waves to calm down. The doubts of the saint and those of the skeptic are of a different species entirely.
We believe Lord, help our unbelief! And help he will.
Dear Heavenly Father,
There are times when we feel completely helpless, but this chapter shows us that Jesus is willing and able to help us in those times of our desperate need.
As in the case of the demons, we declare Christ’s power over the spiritual realm and any spiritual attack we may undergo.
As in the case of the woman, we believe that there is no sin, disease or condition that we may face that puts us outside of your grace, your love and your ability.
As in the case of Jairus’s daughter, we declare that Jesus has conquered even death.
Teach us to come to him for help, whether our needs are small or great. We understand that we truly depend on your grace and your provision through him, first of all, for our sin. That was our greatest need.
In Christ’s name we pray,