The church is a rat’s blind eye…
And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able. Mark 9:17-18
Jesus walks down the mount of transfiguration into an argument. He has to ask, “What is going on?” And the man from the crowd answers.
Literally, the word translated “not able” is the word for strength. The father is saying, the disciples were not strong enough.
We’re not talking mental strength. This wasn’t rubiks cube they had to solve. We’re not talking physical strength. How can you physically wrestle a spirit, a phantom, a shadow?
Obviously, we’re talking spiritual strength.The father was saying that Jesus’ disciples did not have the spiritual strength to cast the demon out.
Jesus doesn’t correct the father. He endorses the father. He turns on his disciples and gives them the hair dryer treatment.
And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me. Mark 9:19
And like many a leader He finds it is just easier sometimes to do it yourself!
For the disciples, though, although it was obvious they didn’t have the spiritual strength, they were not sure why? And a Jesus tells them:
And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Mark 9:29
Jesus is obviously not talking about the words spoken at the moment of deliverance, because that was their failure: their failure was not in shrinking from the challenge but in rising to the challenge with no results.
The footnote gives a clue. Some versions add “and fasting”.
Jesus is talking about a lifestyle of prayer. The disciples had authority because that came from their commissioning: but power comes from relationship. Power comes from exposure to God.
Think of it like this. They have found in experiments with rats that if you cover the eye of a newborn rat for the first six days of it’s life then the rate of connections and synapses between the optic nerve and the brain is markedly reduced. Whereas the other eye because it is being exposed to light and objects and experiences develops a rich number of connections.
After six days when the covering is removed the rat has a biologically perfect eye; there is nothing wrong with the eye; it has the lens, it has the pupil, it has the iris, they all work well except that it is blind. There are insufficient connections from the optic nerve to the cortex for the brain to see anything.
That is a picture of the spiritual life of most people.
We’re the eye. Outwardly we look fine. We dress well, we talk well, we have a good job, we know our bibles, our marriages seem to be together, but lift the lid and we’re empty. When people come looking for answers, all we have are words. When people come looking for change, all we have is encouragement. We’re unable to bestow “transformation”.
Transformation comes from people with “spiritual strength” because transformation is always spiritual.
Next week – Part 2.