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19. Good News for the Sick
F. Other Accounts of Exorcism

d) “Everything Is Possible for Him Who Believes”

“When they (Jesus and some of his disciples) 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 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.’ 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.’ Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’ When 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.’ The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, ‘He’s dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’ He replied, ‘This kind can come out only by prayer.’ ” (Mark 9:14-29)

When Jesus had descended from Mt. Tabor with three of His disciples, a man brought his son, possessed with an evil spirit, to Jesus for healing. According to the father the evil spirit caused the boy to have epileptic seizures which had rendered him dumb. He added that Jesus’ disciples had been unable to drive out the evil spirit. With disappointment Jesus acknowledged the lack of faith in even His own disciples.

When the boy was brought to Jesus, he suffered another convulsion. The father explained how the evil spirit tried to destroy the boy by casting him into the fire or the water, and then pleaded before Jesus: “If you can do any thing, take pity on us and help us.” (Mark 9:23)

Jesus’ response clearly meant that His ability to heal the boy was not the issue. He had the power to heal. But did the petitioners have faith? “If you can?” repeated Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes” (Mark 9:23). The father immediately cried out: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24)! Jesus then commanded the evil spirit to leave the boy. When he appeared to be dead, Jesus helped him to stand.

God is able! So Jesus, as God's representative and presence in the world, is able! The question is the existence and the measure of one’s faith, faith as a power line which attaches itself to the power of God or as a pipe which draws water out of the well. Faith in Jesus allows people to be partakers of divine power. Prayer itself is an expression of this faith.

But where the power line is cut, the flow of power ceases. So also the water cannot reach its destination when the water pipe is broken. In this sense Scriptures on occasions state that Jesus had no power to do any great work.

And it is this lack of faith that induced Jesus to address the people, His disciples included, as an “unbelieving generation”. True faith recognises the possibility of using Jesus’ power. True faith understands our sufficiency is of God. I can do all things, says St. Paul, through the Messiah who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

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