Alfred Place Baptist Church

9:14-23 Everything Is Possible For Him Who Believes

Mark 9:14-23 “When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. ‘What are you arguing with them about?’ he asked. A man in the crowd answered, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at he mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.’ ‘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.’ So 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. Jesus asked the boy’s father, ‘How long has he been like this?’ ‘From childhood,’ he answered. ‘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.’ ‘”If you can”?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for him who believes.’ “

When Moses came down to the foot of the glory-peaked Mount Sinai he met rebellion, idolatry AND apostasy. The Lord’s own people were dancing before a golden calf and acknowledging it as their god. When Elijah came down from his triumph over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel he met the threats and swagger of Jezebel and Ahab, and when Jehovah Jesus came down from the mount of transfiguration he met the hatred of the teachers of the law and the unbelief of his disciples. From the mount of transfiguration to the valley of the devil; from the vision of glory to the sight of demon possession; from the company of Moses and Elijah talking of his dying love to unbelieving teachers of the law mocking the disciples; from the foretaste of heaven’s glory to a scene of sin, sickness and pain; from the voice of God testifying aloud of his love for his Son to the voices of men loudly expressing their disdain for the Son of God and his followers. We come from a mountain where three apostles were awestruck at what they were seeing, to the sight of a tormented child, mute, and under an evil influence, a broken-hearted father and a little band of feeble disciples helpless at Satan’s power. What a painful contrast, and this was found all within the confines of one day in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and it is here in a single chapter of Mark’s gospel.

1. THE COMPANY THAT GATHERED AT THE FOOT OF THE MOUNTAIN.

Let’s look at this scene as it is so fully and fascinatingly described to us here. The narrative of this incident is also found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, but it is twice as long in the text that is before us. We meet here five sorts of people.

i] Firstly, there are the leering teachers of the law who are heckling and taunting Jesus’ disciples. A father has brought to them his own son who was possessed by a spirit. It was tormenting him and had robbed the boy of his speech. He has pleaded with Jesus’ disciples to drive out the spirit, and they had tried but failed. The teachers of the law were delighted at the failure; “We told you so! We told you so!” they cried. Your Master pretended to give you power to cast out demons. No such thing! You can’t do it. Those you healed were simply psychological cases. It was a bit of religious excitement and so they got better for a while. Your enthusiasm had affected them. You’d brainwashed them. They were the dupes of credulity, because you never really cast out a demon. You can’t cast out this demon. Come on Andrew, have a go! Go on Philip, try to deliver this boy. Look at his scars, and wide-eyes, and fear. What are you going to do to help him? Nothing.” Then they turned to the crowd and said to them, “These are just a bunch of impostors. There is nothing to this Jesus business. We’ve all seen these exorcists calling at our villages and wanting money for healings. Charlatans, the lot of them. These disciples of Jesus of Nazareth are no different from the rest.” For the first time in the gospels we find the Pharisees and scribes arguing with the disciples and not with the Lord Jesus. You notice, when Christ appears, he goes to their aid, “What are you arguing with them about?” (v.16). So the disciples were being derided for their weakness and Jesus was being blasphemed. “The messengers are like the man who sent them. They’re all phoneys, and so is your Master.” Don’t we come across critics that say something like this “of course, in the third world, and in earlier centuries, and with ignorant people today you’ll meet people who believe in demons, but not in the Western world amongst educated men and women”? Or they’ll say this, “Of course we meet people believing the Bible and going to church who are middle-class and respectable. It’s all right for the bourgeois, but the gospel doesn’t touch hard tough people. People don’t get ‘saved’ in the 21st century in Wales. Jesus doesn’t ‘save’ them.” So the critics of the gospel are nothing new. They were criticising Jesus’ own disciples for their weakness.

ii] Secondly, there is the poor father, utterly dejected. “I brought him to you – everyone said that you could cast out demons. I had built up my hopes that you would deliver my dear son and he’d be healed. You couldn’t do it. What do you mean by encouraging people to hope in a healing like this? How dare you break my heart and the heart of my dear wife. We’ve come a long way, and it will be even longer going home again. If you couldn’t do this then will your Master be any better? I wish I’d never heard of Jesus of Nazareth, to leave home and take money from friends for the journey, all for nothing, and worst than nothing. When we came we had at least some hope.” That’s the poor father. Perhaps he has come here today? He is saying, “I don’t know why I come here. I suppose I believe in God, and I have brought my children to this church, and I’ve prayed for them but I think today they are more interested in the devil than in Christ.” There maybe a woman here who brought her husband to church, but she is thinking that now he is just as full of Satan as ever, and she is close to despair.

iii] Thirdly, there are the disciples, and they look a sorry bunch of men, heads hanging down, nothing to say about this boy and their pathetic failure to help him. “We don’t know how to account for it. We treated him just like we acted with all the others who were brought to us.” One of them says, “When a demon-possessed person is brought to me I just say, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of him,’ and it’s always worked in the past. I can’t understand this. I’ve lost my touch.” And another apostle pipes up, “We’d all better give up.” Again this is happening in our day, all over the country. We meet ministers who preached throughout last year and don’t know of one person becoming a Christian. Christ has called them to become fishers of men, and yet not a single person was caught that they are aware of. They claim that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, and yet there is little power in their preaching. They are close to giving up.

iv] Fourthly, there is the general crowd. All of them know of someone whose life has been changed by Jesus and they are not going to side too quickly with these teachers of the law. Still they are ‘halting between two opinions’. There are many Mr Facing Both Ways in this throng. If Jesus is the Son of Man then why don’t his disciples save this boy from the devil? Isn’t this what they’ve been called and gifted to do? Here is a controlled experiment and they can prove their point that God is with them. They are here, and the frightened boy is lying on the ground. Yet the disciples have tried to heal him and they’ve failed. They have used the name of Jesus but to no avail. “If that boy were delivered I’d believe in Jesus,” says one man. “Me too,” says another, and another says, “I’d believe that that Nazarene had been sent here by Jehovah if that child were saved.” And I can imagine today people saying similar things, setting their own standards for believing like this, “If a former cabinet minister, a man of the world would believe in Jesus, then I’d think seriously of becoming a Christian. If a manly rugby player believed in Jesus Christ then I could become a believer too.” Or they mention the toughest man they know, and say that they’d believe if he became a Christian. But then Jonathan Aitkin the former cabinet minister believes, and Jason Robinson the brilliant English rugby centre believes, and tough men believe, but these people move the line they have drawn. They still want to see someone else transformed before they will start to cry to God to transform them. They plead another miracle and then they’d trust in Christ. In Galilee the dead have been raised and thousands of men and women have been healed, and the Sermon on the Mount has been preached, and the winds and waves obey Christ but people still want to see more. I doubt if more signs would change anyone, even if one rose from the dead they wouldn’t believe, but we have to answer wisely the fickle crowds’ criticisms.

v] There was a fifth party here, and that is the devil himself. How triumphant he is! He struts around! “You can try your exorcism,” he seems to be saying, “and all your praying. You preach away at this boy, and shout away at me to leave him alone; weep over him; do what you will; I’m not leaving this son of a gun.” He seems to sink his talons into the boy’s soul: “Do your best. Do your worst. I’m not afraid of you. I’ve got this guy and I’m keeping him. There’s no power that’s going to separate me from him.” Can’t we imagine that today, as the devil walks up and down outside many a church, watching the crowds going in that he says about them all; “There’ll be no deliverance for them in that place. I can trust them in that building. Nothing’s going to touch them there. Nothing’s going to break their chains. They’re harder than iron”? And maybe he is gloating this moment over some of you. He has blinded you and deluded you for so long that he is completely confident that no power on earth or from heaven is able to save you. Yet we believe that it will take just a wave of Christ’s little finger and back to hell he’ll go and the old dragon will be robbed of his prey.

So that is the scene we have at the bottom of the mount of transfiguration. There are the scoffing scribes, and the anxious father, and the broken-hearted disciples, and the undecided crowd looking on, and the rejoicing devil. What more could you want to bring this scene to your mind and your emotions?

2. THE LORD OF GLORY APPROACHES THEM.

Haven’t we seen this on a human level from time to time? There is a scene of chaos and confusion, and into the midst of it comes a man of authority. I heard a man called Nicky telling of a Saturday morning on which he had taken his son to play a game of football. When he arrived there he discovered that there was no referee and he was cajoled by the boys into refereeing the match – though he had little knowledge of the rules of football. He blew his whistle and the game started, and soon his judgments were being challenged: “That was a foul!” “No it wasn’t.” “Yes it was.” “He was offside.” No he wasn’t.” “It’s not fair. That’s cheating.” The boys were shouting at one another and soon it was a scene of utter confusion and bitterness as the game was spoiled, until, on his bicycle, unaware of all this chaos, rode up the actual referee. He thought the game was to start an hour later. He blew his whistle, and called the two teams to line up and the game started and it was fun, because a figure of authority who knew the rules had come along. The rules of a game don’t destroy the game, they make it.

You see this in many walks of life. The troops are in disarray; the centre has almost failed; the enemy is gaining heart; their artillery are opening fire and the ranks are in range. What is going to happen? Along comes the general. He sums up the situation in a moment. “Forward there! Hold that position! Backward there!” The orders are given. New resolve is introduced and the scene changes. The mere presence of this man affects the whole face of the field and now the enemy has a real fight on their hands. So it was at the bottom of the mount of transfiguration when someone turned around and shouted, “Here’s Jesus,” and he, with his three disciples, arrived at the scene. Immediately Christ begins to ask questions and they are silent before him. Before long he is in complete control: “You deaf and mute spirit . . . I command you, come out of him and never enter him again” (v.25). The thing is done; the victory is achieved; those enemies from the pit now know they have a fearful fight on their hands. You see it during times of spiritual awakening. There is chaos in a meeting with excited people getting up and speaking from all over the building; men and women are swooning and laughing and weeping; others are trying to sing. Then a man stands in the pulpit, addresses them, and grips them with a divine authority. The discord ends and all things are done decently and in order – the sure mark of the Spirit’s presence. Dr Lloyd-Jones was once preaching in Park Baptist Church in Merthyr Tydfil and he had not spoken two sentences before a man sitting in the gallery said ‘Amen.’ Then another sentence and another ‘Amen!’ Another sentence and another ‘Amen!’ Dr Lloyd-Jones stopped; he fixed his eye on the man, “My friend, the gospel is to be applied not applauded.” The man was silenced and there were no more distractions from him during that sermon. Divine authority.

What do we have here? A group of Jesus’ disciples who were continuing Jesus’ ministry, but without Jesus’ presence. They were bodies trying to act without their Head! How many ministers of the gospel are behaving in that way today? Men and women in the body of Christ – how dependent we are on our great Head and the fullness of authority and power and wisdom that he brings to our work. The Lord Jesus works everything after the counsel of his own will, and so he has deliberately left these men to depend on their own wits, in order to write on their hearts the truth of his great words, “without me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). What a humbling way to learn that lesson. Down they have fallen, utterly humiliated and mocked. It was an experience I had on Thursday when the snowstorm prevented four politicians coming to a Radio Wales kind of Any Questions here in Aberystwyth and I was persuaded to take part on the panel with three local politicians. I was an absolute disaster, not having the brains or wit or wide political knowledge for that sort of thing, and so publicly I was profoundly humbled. Such days we remember for the rest of our lives. J.C.Ryle says, “The things that we learn by smarting experience abide in our memories, while truths heard with the ear are often forgotten. But we may be sure that it was a bitter lesson at the time. We don’t love to learn that we can do nothing without Christ.”

There came a time in the life of Peter when he felt that he didn’t need any warnings from the Lord about watching and praying, or cautions that he was about to deny Jesus three times. Not Peter. The others might, but not him. That pride and the subsequent fall cost Peter bitter tears. The holiest Christian has only what he has received from the fullness of Christ. The Christian’s strength is not his own. His power in preaching is not his own. He has nothing but what he has received from Christ. Let him start to live a sensual life, or let him start depending on his gifts, and he will soon discover that he is like Samson, that without his hair he is as weak as any man. Every day we need the presence of Christ. When he gives us the Great Commission to take the gospel into the whole world he says, “Lo! I am with you always! You have to count on me to do this work.” He has to be with us in order for the work of the kingdom to be advanced. Only by him we may resist Satan and he will flee from us. With Christ we can overcome the greatest temptations, but without him they’ll surely overcome us. At the start of every day we have to pray in our hearts, “Don’t leave me for an hour today or I am lost. I don’t know what is going to happen today, but I do know that you must go with me. I can’t bear the thought of being left for a moment without you.”

So there is chaos and suspicion and accusation and heartache, and then the Lord Jesus comes and takes a grip on the situation. “‘What are you arguing about?’ he asked. A man in the crowd answered, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit which has robbed him of speech. Whenever 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.’ ‘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'” (vv. 16-19). The Head, the Lord Christ, is moved to pain by the unbelief of his own body of disciples. He has left them for a little while, and he’s been dropped out of their thinking. They’ve started behaving as if they could preach and heal and cast out demons at will! They thought they had mastered the technique. They were treating the ministry of Christ like some automatic process. All they had to do was use the right words, apply the practices he’d given them, use the right emotions, and they were bound to be successful. They though they could control the Sovereign Spirit. They were not trusting in Christ. They were not looking to him. They were unbelieving. Their faith was in themselves, and Jesus, fresh from the Transfiguration cries out, “O unbelieving generation!” – in other words, the disciples were just like the rest of this generation – “how long shall I stay with you?” He has tasted the glory of heaven and yet has to stay in this warped world. Would they ever learn? I am asking you to consider whether this might be the Lord’s diagnosis of the professing church in the 21st century? Much of it is equipped, and rich, and instructed and yet it is spiritually ineffective. It has divorced itself from its Head through its lack of trust.

But I want you to notice that Jesus said these words aloud. He didn’t soft-pedal his reactions. He showed his pain. He didn’t allow them to think of their failure as some justifiable inadequacy. They couldn’t plead that they were only human beings. He charged their consciences with their sin. They were not looking to him and trusting in him and it made him groan. Isn’t Christ made sad today by what he sees in the professing church – the Lord in the midst of the throne grieved by the behaviour of the body on earth? If we are warned against grieving the Spirit then certainly we may grieve the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. He can say, “I and the Spirit are one.” We nailed him to the cross with our sin, and now we make the risen exalted Christ say, “O unbelieving generation,” when we fail to trust him as we ought.

3. THE LORD OF GLORY PASTORS THE MAN.

“Bring the boy to me,” (v.19) says Jesus. There were friends of a certain paralysed man who carried him all the way to Christ, even removing a section of the roof from the house where Jesus was teaching in order to bring their friend right before our Lord Others brought their servants or their children to him by name, or sought to bring Christ to their loved ones. The two must come together, Jesus and the one in need. That is what we do in prayer, we bring before the Lord our friends in their need.

Then what happens here when the boy stands before the Saviour? All hell is let loose on the boy. We are told that the spirit dominating the boy focused upon Jesus as the boy was brought right up to the Lord. It knew the identity of Christ and so began to wreak its destruction on the lad utterly contemptuously: “it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth” (v.20). Jesus comes near to a sinner in the grip of the god of this world. He comes to save the boy, and then there is an torment of evil activity. It is the last desperate flurry of hatred and frustration and fear of the devil. You would imagine that when Jesus drew near to an unbeliever that the signs of his nearness would be a peace and a new openness to the gospel, but here the child is brought to Christ and there is conflict; there is not new life but suffering. The presence of God can produce storm and stress before anything of the life of heaven enters our friends. Don’t give up on your friends if they start using bad language – which they never did when you first knew them, and they start to demean the church and talk of “the folly of the gospel.” That may be almost inevitable if the Holy Son of God is dealing with them.

But for you too. Some of you come here, and you are very near the kingdom of heaven, but over the past months you have come with the greatest reluctance. You have found yourself thinking, “How boring it all is! He preaches on and on and on. I don’t believe this; I can’t believe this; I can’t become a Christian; I don’t want become a Christian. I don’t feel well when I come here! I am getting nothing out of all this. It’s a lot of nonsense. I’m not coming to church again. How much longer is this going on?” This is the work of Satan because he sees you slipping out of his fingers. That is the last desperate ploy he’ll use to keep you under his control. We are not ignorant of his devices. You know how the devil works. He will drive you into presumption so that you think you are a Christian before you’ve been born again, or he’ll take the opposite tack and will drive you into despair so that you think you will never be born again. Sometimes this spirit threw this boy into the water, and sometimes he threw him into the fire, and when the boy felt he was drowning he longed for the fire, that it would be infinitely better, but when he was burning he longed to be drowning in a river. That is how the devil works. One Sunday in the cellar, the next Sunday in the attic. One Sunday the cold of melancholy, the next the heat of self-conceit. Satan drives us to extremes. He will make us think one church is absolutely perfect, and another church lacks a single redeeming feature. Satan has one little lifetime in which to get you and take you to the place of woe with him for ever. He wont give up easily, and so the father here could look down now at his boy and see him being thrown down on the ground – bang – and then rolling round and round in a torment foaming at the mouth. What a scene when he is brought to Jesus!

Then Jesus continues his pastoring; “How long has he been like this?” he asks the father. “From childhood . . . It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him.” (vv. 21&22). Wasn’t it hard for this man to trust in God? Some of us have known continuous green pastures and still waters. We have known good health and our children have grown up without any serious illnesses. When they were young they came to know the Lord and they married in the Lord. How great is our debt to God. For many Christians it has not been like that. This man had a son who from childhood had to be watched continually. If there was a fire in the house in the winter days the boy had to be watched constantly. If they went to the well for water the mother had to keep his hand tightly in hers. Let them take their eyes off this boy for a moment and he might be in terrible danger. They slept lightly at night and were often binding his burns in the day. Year after year this went on. They loved him and he loved them but how tough it was to believe in Jehovah the God of love when they had to watch all this. How they prayed, and the boy was no better.

Then he brought his son to Jesus. He had heard much of him and the people whose lives he had changed. He had found his disciples at the foot of a mountain and asked them if they would deliver his son from this spirit. They had tried. How they had tried. They had all tried, praying and commanding the demon to leave, doing it in the name of the Lord Jesus. The boy was no better at all. There was no deliverance. The Father’s last hope had been Jesus, and now this had failed. Wasn’t it hard for a parent to trust in God when his messengers failed to help him?

Then Jesus himself had appeared. What a relief; maybe he could do something, but when he brought his son to him the boy was thrown into a convulsion. The spirit in him seemed to pick him up and slam him down against the ground. He twisted round and round helplessly in the dirt. There didn’t seem to be much sign of healing there. Wasn’t it hard for such a man to trust in the Lord, and love him, and ask him with faith to heal his son? Have you known this? Your prayers unanswered for yourself and your loved ones, and this for many years, but they’re not getting better but worse? Satan’s activity in them seems to be having free rein doesn’t it? So it was with this man.

But still he spoke to Jesus, and this is what he said, “if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (v.22). Let us notice carefully Jesus’ response because it is one of the most important and misunderstood sentences in the Bible. “‘If you can’? said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for him who believes.'” (v.23). There was an ‘if’ in the man’s request, but the father had put it in the wrong place. The Lord Jesus is telling him here to retract the ‘if’ and put it in its proper position. “There is no ‘if’ about my power,” Jesus is saying, “and no ‘if’ about my willingness to help your son. The ‘if’ lies somewhere else. If you can believe; that is the issue, whether you trust my power and compassion, not whether I have power or pity.”

Thee words of Jesus are one of the most abused verses in the Bible. People rip this verse out of its context here and they say it means that all your wishes will come true if you can only believe enough. It means, they claim that if only this father could have believed that his son was going to get better then he would get better. That is what many people think a phrase like this means, but it cannot possibly mean this. I can give you three instances in the Bible where people had complete faith in God but where they did not get what they wanted. The first was David’s prayer for the healing of his child. He prayed to God for the life of his son. How he prayed, with such earnestness and faith. David had been inspired by the Holy Spirit to confess, “The Lord is my Shepherd, and so I shall not be in want.” God would ever supply all his needs. David had that assurance, and so he brings his sick baby to God with the deepest trust in God’s power to deliver, the Lord who had saved him from the lion, and the bear, and the Philistine giant, he could certainly save his baby from death. There is no question about David’s faith in God’s power to heal his child, but the boy did not live.

The second case is Paul crying to God that the thorn in the flesh that God had brought to him might be removed. Paul could pray in faith knowing of all those times when God had delivered him from sickness, danger, the devil and death. He could outline the holiest arguments of the benefits the removal of this thorn would be to himself and to the spread of the kingdom of God. Paul didn’t give up easily in bringing this request to God. He had three sessions of intercession focused on this particular request. The prayer was given by God, sustained by the Holy Spirit, and made in faith, and yet the answer was no.

The third case was our Lord praying in the Garden that the cup might pass from him. There was no lack of faith in Christ. He believed God could give him another cup. He believed in God’s power and compassion. He loved God with all his heart and he knew God loved him and so there was no weakness in Jesus’ prayer. He prayed a number of times, and he also asked his friends to pray with him, and yet the answer was No. So whatever this verse means it doesn’t mean that if we only had enough faith when we went to God with something then we would get it, and if we don’t get what we ask for then the failure is our lack of faith. Every so called faith-healer says this. They take your money and when you or your loved one fail to get better they tell you that you didn’t believe, and to make matters worse they quote these words of Jesus in your face, “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

What does this verse mean? Jesus is commenting upon the failure of his disciples to have healed this boy. They had ceased trusting in the Lord. They were trusting in formulae, in the vain repetitions of a phrase like, “I command you in Jesus’ name come out of him.” They were trusting in the fact that months earlier Jesus had commissioned them to preach and heal and cast our demons. They were looking back, or they were looking to words. They were trusting in the engineering of man; they were not going to God, conscious of their great weakness, and saying to him, “Lord, it is in your power to save this boy from this evil spirit. Please will you do so. It will make him a full human being again, and it will give such joy to his parents, and it will give glory to the name of Jesus Christ,” and then waiting on God to act. That is not what they were doing. They were not praying in trust to one who hears and answers, the one who usually says Yes, but who reserves his right to say No even to believing prayer, to God-honouring and glorifying prayer. We say, “I still trust him. Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.”

Everything is possible for the man who is joined to the Lord by saving faith. “Everything?” What does that mean? It certainly does not mean that I can shrink this earth to size of an apple and put it in my pocket if only I believe I can do it. It doesn’t mean that I can run a four minute mile if only I believe, or that it would be possible for me to fly into the air if only I could believe. It cannot mean things like that. What it means is this, that everything that God wants me to do in my life that will honour and glorify him is possible for that person who trusts in God – everything. It means that it is possible for me to care for a boy possessed by an evil spirit, and take the loss of my friends, my business and my life for the sake of the gospel. It means it is possible for me to love my enemies. It is possible for me to speak like Job at a time of incredible grief and say, “The Lord gave and the Lord took away blessed be the name of the Lord.” It means, it is possible for me to turn the other cheek, and go the second mile. It means it is possible for me to overcome evil with good. It is possible for me to be poor in spirit, and mourn for my sin, and be meek, and pure in heart. It is possible for me to do everything with all my might to God’s glory. It is possible for me, in whatever state I’m in, to be contented. Everything that God can ask of me, whatever duty, whatever command, it is possible for me. It’s possible for me bear any burden, to cross any river, to endure any pain, to suffer any loss, to pass through any shame – everything is possible for him who believes.

What do you have to do for all this to be possible? Believe! Trust in the Lord! Not lay everything on the altar. Not attain spiritual perfection. Not have Holy Spirit baptism, but do what these disciples failed to do, keep looking unto Jesus, keep trusting in him and believing in him day by day. Everything is possible to him who believes in Jesus Christ.

We come to Christ and we say to him that we have this terrible trouble. “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (v.22). “If I can . . . if I can?” says Jesus. “You know I can. Keep trusting me. Everything is possible for him who believes.” (v.23). That is the victory that overcomes the world, your trust in Jesus Christ. That is how promises were obtained and victories won and righteousness was wrought throughout the Old Testament. God’s people trusted in him. What has changed from the time of our father Abraham is that the Son of God has come and men have seen his glory. We now have a hundred fold more reason to trust in the Saviour today. Everything is possible for him who trusts the Lord and doesn’t lean on his own understanding.

29th February 2003 GEOFF THOMAS