Rev. Ronald E. Braxton, Senior Pastor, Metropolitan AME Church, Washington, DC
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Scripture 17A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18Whenever 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.” 19“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.” 20So 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. 21Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”“From childhood,” he answered. 22“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.” 23“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” 24Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 25When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. 28After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 29He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”
Jesus invited Peter, James and John to go with him onto a mountain where the three disciples witnessed Jesus’ “transfiguration”. Jesus’ face began to shine; his garments glowed; Elijah and Moses appeared. The scripture text begins immediately after Jesus’ transfiguration, when Jesus and the three disciples leave the mountain and join the other 9. The other 9 disciples had been out among the people ministering, teaching, and healing. A father had brought his son to the 9 disciples so they could heal the boy of his affliction – he appeared to be possessed by demons, causing him to thrash about, gnashing his teeth and foaming at the mouth. When Jesus arrived, the man approached him, asking him to heal his son. He said: “Father, I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
The disciples wrestled uncomfortably with why they could not heal the boy. The boy’s father asked Jesus: “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Jesus said: “If? Everything is possible for him/her who believes.” The boy’s father replied: “I do believe; but help me to overcome my unbelief.” The Gospel of Mark lays out the foundational issues that Jesus’ disciples, like all humans, wrestled with: faith in God and faith in their own ability to access God in their daily living.
The scripture tells us how to handle mountains that loom over us in our daily lives.
1. Never be so spiritually inept that you cannot admit that, in your own humanity, you experience faithless times in your life. There is a “Doubting Thomas” in each of us. Yes, I believe, but there is a part of me that borders on unbelief. The disciples even queried why. As strong as we think our faith might be, mountains sometimes loom larger than our faith. Yes, I believe, but God help me in my unbelief!
2. Let the mountain draw you closer to God. Take your eyes off the mountain and focus on God. Jesus’ garments were still glowing from his transfiguration, but the boy’s father did not recognize the power right in front of him! All the father could see was his son and the demons. The mountain can overshadow your hopes and dreams. Take your eyes off the situation and focus on Jesus; focus on the power of God who can do all things. Say, yes, I believe, but God help me in my unbelief!
3. Some things can only be accomplished by prayer. We can do some things; there are some mountains we can move by ourselves. But there are some mountains we cannot move on our own. There are some things in our lives that only God can move. All we can do is pray, pray, pray non-stop. Never doubt that prayer can conquer every mountain, every trap, every obstacle on your path. Fall down on your knees and keep on praying. God moves mountains; through prayer you can conquer anything. God may not choose to move the mountain out of your way, but prayer will give you everything you need to deal with your mountains.
In the Book of Judges, the prophetess Deborah, through the power of prayer, moved Barak on Mt. Tabor and to defeat an army that was 10 times greater than his own. Without prayer, a molehill can turn into a mountain. Through prayer, with a little bit of faith, just the size of a mustard seed, you can say: “Mountain, get out of my way!” Jesus will give you the power.
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