The thing I was drawn to today was the story about the boy with the dumb & deaf spirit. First, I believe there is still such a thing as this going on today. I don’t believe a Christian can be “possessed” however and I believe scripture makes that very clear. I also believe we give satan too much credit some times when we attribute every difficulty or afliction to a spirit. As I wrote recently, I believe it to be much better to seek discipleship and an intimate relationship with Abba-father rather than deliverance for every little pain.
Now – here’s the verses describing the situation in Mark 9 (for those of you reading this who don’t have your BIG Bible handy – you DO have a BIG Bible, don’t you? ):
17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son for you to heal him. He can’t speak because he is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this evil spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground and makes him foam at the mouth and grind his teeth and become rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” 19 Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you until you believe? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth. 21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was very small. 22 The evil spirit often makes him fall into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us. Do something if you can.” 23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” 24 The father instantly replied, “I do believe, but help me not to doubt!” 25 When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Spirit of deafness and muteness,” he said, “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!” 26 Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy lay there motionless, and he appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up. 28 Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?” 29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.” (NLT)
Notice in verse 25: “When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit.” Is that to say that if there was no growing crowd that Jesus would not have rebuked the spirit? Or, do you feel that Jesus waited a bit for the crowd to grow so they could see the miracle? Neither one really seems to fit my understanding of the nature of Jesus.
My other question is the same as the disciples – why couldn’t they cast out that particular evil spirit? In the NLT version (above) Jesus’ reply in verse 29 was: “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.” But there’s a foot note that says “some manuscripts add and fasting.” Is this to say that the disciples could have cast out the evil spirit had they prayed and fasted? Obviously, Jesus didn’t have time to fast, so this was for our sake as His disciples. I’m curious of your thoughts on this.
Lord, give us an understanding so we might be more effective disciples for You.