Discussion or Faith?


Discussion or belief

2nd Sunday in Lent. 24 and 25 February 2024 (LGJ)

Gospel: Mark 9,14-29


The Gospel begins with discussion just like last Sunday. At that time it was at the Passover meal. They debated who was the greatest. Who can do the most? Honor and position. And it ended in defeat. The strong leader had to turn to Jesus.

Now the situation is different. But it is still the same dear Christians who think in terms of strength. "Why couldn't we?"

14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them.

Scribes discuss with the disciples. No one has an answer. No one can come up with a scripture that solves the problem. And Markus tells what they can't find an answer to: the suffering and how to overcome it. - What do we humans do when we do not understand life, suffering and death? In trying to find answers, we can easily end up in discussion. But does it free us from suffering? And does the sufferer help with our discussion?

But suddenly the discussion stops.

15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him.

The debaters were seized with awe. Because they saw Jesus. Normally, people were not in awe of him just by seeing him. He often met with disdain. Only when he intervened or preached. But it was different now. They were awestruck at the sight of him. He came down from a mountain with three disciples. It had been with him on the mountain, and was struck with fear, awe. They had seen Jesus' divinity.

And now: at the thought alone the whole crowd was struck with awe. I wonder if Jesus carried some of the glory of divinity with him down from the mountain. Perhaps like when Moses came down from Mount Sinai after he had talked with the Lord. His face was beaming. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, he had the two tablets of the Testimony in his hand when he came down from the mountain. …It shone from his face because the Lord had spoken to him; … Aaron and all the Israelites saw that it shone from his face, and they were afraid to come near him. (Exodus 34:29-30).

When Christians discuss where suffering comes from and how we overcome it, we need to look to the Lord. God the Lord is here. See Him. Feel His nearness and glory in glimpses. That is why a Christian goes to church for worship. It is quiet. And we pray: "Lord, I have come into this house of yours to hear..." And the priest says: "The Lord be with you!" Scripture is read. We baptize an infant. We kneel and receive the glory of forgiveness. Here the discussion ends and is replaced by worship, prayer and thanks. We need that.

The Gospel today shows us that it is not managed by discussion, but by seeing Jesus – by faith – and by prayer.


16 And he asked them, "What are you arguing about with them?"

The father to the son answered:

"Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, 1) it throws him down, and 2) he foams and 3) grinds his teeth and 4) becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able."

Now the suffering is described, the pain, a power that none of us can handle. All roads are blocked. And there is only one way left: the way of prayer to the Lord. The boy's father goes that way.

After all, the disciples had received authority from Jesus. Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to heal diseases. 2 Then he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick, (Lk. 9,1-2) Why then could they not? Jesus answers: Because the mandate from God had to be carried out in faith during prayer.

"That kind of thing is only driven out by prayer!"

They asked: "Why couldn't we?" "We". When we become self-driven and work in faith in ourselves, the prayer dries up. Then the strength withers and we start to discuss.


And what does Jesus do? He pronounces judgment on the disciples and on the scribes and on our whole family.

19 And he answered them, "O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?

Then the problem is unbelief. And unbelief is not the same as a lack in us, a lack of faith. Unbelief is a WRONG belief. Unbelief is that we have lost our relationship with God, do not trust God, do not cry out to him in need, but try to believe in something else, a different god than God.

Jesus says to our whole family: You have turned your back on God. You have become self-driving. You who are created to serve each other in obedience, you live as if you are masters, and when you are not, you argue with each other. And just as last Sunday, when Satan desired you to sift you like wheat, so he is at play again.

But Jesus has come to destroy the works of the devil. Mark tells us that it began in the desert, where he resisted all temptations (Mark 1,12-13). And that it continued when Jesus cast out unclean spirits, demons (1.23-27). - God tells us in the Bible that they are spirits that God created, but that fell from God. And their leader is the devil, Satan. It was he who lusted after Satan last Sunday. And it is he who goes about like a roaring lion to devour us.

Why then would Jesus be with the unfaithful generation that had yielded to Satan and turned their backs on God? To save us! Save us from God's wrath and judgment for our sins. But also from all evil spirits who want to seduce us and possess us.


Now Jesus intervenes - and he shows us here that he is the Christ, who has received all power in heaven and on earth:

Bring him to me." And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him.

We feel the impotence of the father and the son. It's heartbreaking. But also the impotence of the evil spirit! When it saw Jesus, it attacked the boy again. But evil spirits can only destroy. They cannot create anything good.

We also feel how lovingly Jesus asks. This father gets the opportunity to tell. He takes care of him. He prepares him to receive the help. He does the same with us. It is important to be asked. And then we feel that the father really trusts in Jesus' help: He had brought his son to Jesus, but only found his disciples. He later cried out: I believe, help my unbelief. And here he said:

But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.

It is a prayer known from the Book of Psalms. For example, Psalm 121. "Where does my help come from? From the LORD, creator of heaven and earth”. So he prays to Jesus.

And Jesus said to him, "'If you can'! All things are possible for one who believes."

Some have taken it to mean that Jesus makes it dependent on this father and says: "It depends on you, who are the father of your son. It depends on whether you can. And you can if you have a strong faith.” But hits right next to it.

When Jesus says: "If you can", he says to him: "You say to me: If you can. And you're right. Because I can. Trust it confidently. Everything is possible for the one who trusts that I can help and really want to help.

He also says this to us: "Trust in me confidently, for I am your Lord. I bore your sins on the cross into death, and I triumphed over your death. And I will take care of you all my life.” All things are possible to him that believeth, because all things are possible to Jesus, in whom we trust.

That this is how it should be understood is also evident from what is happening now:


Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!"

Faith does not trust in itself, but in Him. It is so great to learn this from this father. When you feel that you do not have the faith, then you can say like the father in prayer and cry out to Jesus. And then Jesus does what must be done in this situation:

And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, "He is dead." 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.

He also does what is necessary in your life and mine. He really does.

There is a strange detail, yes, a wonderful detail in what Jesus does and says: namely, that it also happened to him: He cried out loud, screamed. And he breathed his last, and he was as dead, yes, he was dead. He did that for us. He is our savior. And he arose on the 3rd day.

Here the text ends, and here it continues when you have come out of the church door and are on your way home: He is your LORD and SAVIOR. Amen.

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