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‘BRING HIM TO ME’ – Mark 9:14-19

Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on January 24, 2016 under 2016 |

Message preached Sunday, January 24, 2016 from Mark 9:14-19

Theme: We cannot effectively deal with the troubles of life until we bring them to Jesus.

(Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version; copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.)

There was a man in Bible times who lived somewhere in the regions of Galilee. And this man had an unspeakably dreadful problem. His young son—his only son—was in a terribly pathetic condition; and there seemed to be no one that could help him.

Have you ever experienced a trial like that, by the way? Have you ever had a time when someone you love very much was in serious trouble, and when there wasn’t any human thing you could do to help them? All the possible avenues of help prove to be dead ends. No one—even those who have a reputation for solving such problems for others—can do anything to help you, or make the one you love well. I believe that it’s one of the most helpless and frustrating feeling there is. And in the case of this particular man, the trial was made even more terrible by the fact that his beloved and only son wasn’t merely suffering from a physical illness. He was oppressed by an unclean spirit.

But I love the story because (Spoiler Alert!) Jesus makes the boy well. Only Jesus could.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; we’re not told how this boy’s terrible condition came about. But it appears to have been going on for a long time. It first began to show itself when the child was small. And the language that the Bible uses to tell us the story suggests that this diabolical spirit continued to torment this boy as far as into his pre-teen or early teenage years.

What did this demonic spirit do to the boy? A lot of the time, it made him appear to be deaf and mute. I’m only speculating; but I’m imagining that the way that it would show it self would be that, when someone spoke to the boy, it would seem that he did not hear them—that he would just looking blankly on into space. If he tried to speak, he couldn’t. It was as if he was in some other world that no one could reach. But it wouldn’t be true to say that his vocal chords had lost their ability to function. It’s a story that’s told to us in three of the four Gospels; and in one of the Gospels, it tells us that, when the demon would take hold of him, the poor boy would cry out in agony.

I hope it will not disturb you if I share with you some of what the Bible says happened when this demonic spirit overtook this boy. It’s very unpleasant to imagine; but it’s important for us to know because the story is a true one. The boy would react in a way that—in the English translation of Matthew’s Gospel—is described as an epileptic seizure. But the actual word that is used meant that he was severely “moon-struck”. Whenever this unclean spirit seized him, it would take him from a state of being distant and silent—appearing to be deaf and mute—into a terrible thrashing and screaming lunatic. It would throw him down to the ground; and the word that was used meant that he was “torn” or “ripped”. He perhaps severely damaged and lacerated his body by the sudden and violent writhings and thrashings. He would gnash and grind his teeth, and would foam and froth at the mouth. And then, just as quickly, he would become stiff and rigid—unmoving, as if paralyzed.

Added to the agony and helplessness of it all was the fact that the demon literally tried to destroy the young man. There would be times when the boy would be near a body of water; and suddenly, the spirit would drive the boy to cast himself into the water headlong—perhaps causing him to thrash about helplessly and to be in danger of drowning. And there would be other times when, if there was a fire burning nearby, the demon would overtake the boy and cause him to throw his body into the flames. It’d be hard to imagine the continual, physically and emotionally draining, unrelenting burden this boy’s father felt. He had to constantly watch his son any time they were near water, or a fire, or perhaps on an elevated location—ever keeping hold of him lest he suddenly be overtaken by this demonic spirit in such a way as to endanger himself or others.

There were no institutions to care for someone like that in those days. There were no programs available. And even if there were; what could anyone do to free the boy of an unclean spirit?

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; I believe that, along the way, the father heard about the wonder-working prophet named Jesus. Living in that part of the world at that time, the man wouldn’t have been able to help hearing about Him. And perhaps he even heard of how, not too long before that time, Jesus had sent His apostles out—two by two—to preach about Him throughout the region. They story is told that whoever came to them was healed by them in the name of Jesus. It was said that they even cast out unclean spirit’s by the power of His name. And so; the father took his son and went out to look for Jesus. Perhaps he even heard that Jesus was nearby.

When the man arrived with his son to where some of Jesus’ disciples were, He found that Jesus Himself was not there. Jesus had taken three of His disciples and had gone away up onto a high mountain. But the remaining nine of His apostles were there, waiting; and the desperate man hoped that they could do for his son what they had done for others. And perhaps they themselves also thought that they could help him. They simply tried to do for the boy what they had done for other people before. But sadly, frustratingly, nothing was happening. Soon, a crowd of interested people began to gather—hoping to see a miracle. But no matter how hard the nine disciples tried, they could do nothing to help the boy.

And things began to get worse. In the midst of this crowd were some scribes—Jewish scholars who were experts in the Scriptures and in the law that God gave through Moses. Many of them—along with the Pharisees—had already been opposing Jesus and His ministry. Some of the scribes had even accused Jesus of performing His ‘so-called miracles’ in the power of the devil himself! They also were there; watching as these nine apostles were failing to help the boy; bringing up all kinds of accusations and questions and challenges. “It was said that you were able to do cast out demons before. Why is it that you can’ this boy now? Where has the supposed ‘power’ of Jesus gone? You seem quite helpless now that He is not here. Could it be that you were all perpetrating a lie all along?”

And can you imagine the torment this would be to the poor father? Did the scribes and the apostles have to have this intramural ‘theological’ debate right now? Couldn’t the scribes just go away? Couldn’t this annoying crowd of onlookers—who are all chattering away about Jesus as if He were the new ‘hot topic of the day’—just kindly disperse? Couldn’t the apostles just heal the boy, as they had done for others before?

He would have had to wonder; “Is this yet another dead end? Is there no hope for us at all?”

And then comes Jesus. (That’s my favorite parts of the story, by the way!) He had, just then, come down from the mountain with His three apostles Peter, James and John—where the three had just witnessed Jesus’ glory on the Mount of Transfiguration the night before. Look with me at Mark 9:14-29; and let’s read for ourselves what happened.

And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him. And He asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them?” Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.” He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:14-29).

Now, dear brothers and sisters in Christ; there is just so much for us to learn from this passage that I don’t believe it would be beneficial to try to cover it all in one Sunday’s time. And so, I ask that we break this passage up into three parts. In our next time together, the Lord willing, I ask that we concentrate on that remarkable request from the father—“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” I believe that many of us here can identify with what that father said; and we need to spend some time thinking about how it relates to our own times of trial—and to our own need for faith. And then, I’d like to spend a Sunday after that focusing in on how Jesus explained that the disciples could not cast the unclean spirit out of the boy. He said, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting”; and we need to learn from them how they tried to do the work of Jesus in the power of the flesh. Many of us fail to see fruitfulness in our lives for the very same reason.

But this morning, let’s concentrate on that remarkable invitation from Jesus with respect to the boy. As He says in verse 19; “Bring him to Me!” I believe those four words illustrate for us how to deal with all of the deeply frustrating challenges we face in life. No matter what the nature of our problem or our challenge might be, we cannot effectively deal with the troubles of life until we bring them to Jesus.

How much better things go, the moment we take up Jesus’ invitation—and bring our need to Him!

* * * * * * * * * * *

Now; looking back again to what we’re told in verses 14-15, I believe we can see a fact of life being illustrated to us. He came down from the mountain, and found this great crowd—and the scribes debating with His disciples. This shows us something that’s not necessarily a surprising point to make; but it’s one that we nevertheless need to keep in mind if we’re going to live realistically for our Lord. It’s that . . .


Just think of when we read of this situation occurring. It was after Jesus had taken Peter, James and John with Him up the mountain; and after the divine glory of Jesus was made manifest to them. They had seen Jesus’ face shine like the sun, and His garments glisten with a whiteness that was brighter than any launderer on earth could give to them. They saw Moses and Elijah speaking with Him; and they heard the voice of God the Father say, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” And it was then—after all that—that they came down the mountain.

Now; I don’t know about you, but I think that if I were Peter, James and John, I’d never want to go back down the mountain! I’d want to stay up there and behold the glory of Jesus, and fellowship with Him for the rest of my life, where there are no troubles—only glory! But Jesus brought them back down to the others—and then, right into this difficult challenge.

When I think of this, I think of the great old hymn we sing that says;

I’d stay in the garden with Him

Though the night around me be falling,

But He bids me go; through the voice of woe

His voice to me is calling.

I had an experience like that last week. I had a wonderful time of prayer alone with the Lord. Have you ever had one of those times when you just really didn’t feel like praying, but you went ahead and did so anyway?—and then, after a while, you were taken up with love for the Lord, and were overwhelmed with a time of fellowship with Him; and you began to wonder why it is that you don’t come away and be with Him more often? That happened to me; and I hated to leave my time of fellowship with Him. I had to. There were things He was calling me to do and responsibilities I needed to take care of. But just like the disciples, we need to leave the mountain top and go down to the valley below—where there are troubles, and challenges, and unbelief, and frustrations, and people who desperately need our Lord’s divine touch. But I had a new strength to face those things. It’s those mountain times with Jesus that teach us why we can trust Him in the valley.

So; Jesus, and Peter, James and John, all came down from the mountain to find the crowds, and the frustrated nine disciples, and the taunting scribes, and the eager and curious crowds, and the desperate father, and the tormented son, and the unclean spirit. And although the three apostles didn’t know what they would find at the foot of the mountain, I believe Jesus did. He already knew—and we need to learn—that, in this world, we will have times of troubles.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; look at verse 15. We’re told that, when the great crowd saw Jesus, “all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him”. The word for “greatly amazed”, in the original language, means that they were ‘out-amazed’. They were ‘awestruck’! And why was that? I believe it was because they had all just been talking about Him. He was the central focus of the debate that was, right then, being carried on. And suddenly, there He was!

And why was He the center of attention? It was because the nine disciples could not heal the boy. And by the way—I don’t believe Peter, James or John could have done so either. They—just as we—encountered overwhelming troubles in the course of life. And as verses 16-18 show us . . .


When Jesus asked the scribes what it was they were discussing with His disciples, they didn’t even get a chance to answer. The father was the one who spoke up:

Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not” (vv. 17-18).

Now; I don’t blame the father—do you? He was doing the best that he knew to do. He was trying to act on the faith that he had; and even then, he knew to cry out to the Lord for more faith. But it seem to me that the nine disciples were at fault. You can get a hint of the problem in verses 28-29—after Jesus Himself had cast the demon out of the boy;

And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting” (vv. 28-29).

It wasn’t that “prayer” and “fasting” were magic tricks that made things happen. It was because those acts of devotion were expressions of complete dependency upon Jesus Himself. In Matthew’s telling of the story, he writes that Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief. I believe what had happened was that, when the father brought his son to them, they thought that they could just do whatever it was that Jesus had commanded them to do before on their own—like when He had sent them out as His ambassadors a few months earlier. Simply put, they were trying to do the works of Jesus without Him! They were trying to do what only He can do, but without a fresh sense of dependency upon Him in order to be able to do it.

I wonder, by the way, if some of us here may be trying to do what the disciples did. I wonder if someone here is seeking to solve the problems of life by using Jesus’ teachings, and perhaps following Jesus’ patterns, but not really doing it in dependency upon Jesus Himself. I wonder if anyone here is trying to do the work of Jesus, but without Jesus Himself—and are, as a result, experiencing frustration and defeat. I think it’d be good at this point to remember what Jesus Himself said in John 15:1-8;

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:1-8).

* * * * * * * * * *

Well; that explains what the disciples were doing. They were trying to do the work of Jesus without Jesus. They were trying to bear fruit without abiding in the vine. And that’s why they were frustrated. I even think that’s why the unbelieving people of the world were around them—mocking them and giving them the business because of their fruitlessness. I’m afraid that we, as Jesus’ followers, are often frustrated for the same reason.

This leads us, finally, to consider that . . .


You see; the disciples weren’t the only one’s being frustrated. It seems to me that even the Lord Jesus Himself was getting frustrated. In some ancient texts, we’re told that Jesus answered “him”—that is to say, as if He were answering the boy’s father. But the more reliable manuscripts have it that Jesus answered “them”—that is, the scribes; and perhaps also the crowds; and I believe most definitely the disciples who were trying to do His work in His name without relying on Him. In verse 19, we’re told that He said; “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.”

And that was the solution all along. The boy—who apparently couldn’t bring himself—needed to be brought to Jesus. And once that happened, everything began to get better. All our problems in life begin to get better when we come to Jesus Himself with them. We always seem to do that as a last resort! But how much better if we would come to Him in the first place!

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; before we bring this time to an end, I have wondered if someone here—who knows the trial that my wife and I are undergoing—might be thinking, “Well, what about you, Preacher? How come you and your wife are still dealing with the challenges you’re facing? How come your wife isn’t well? Aren’t you bringing her to Jesus?” And just know; if no one here is asking that right now, it’s okay—I’ve already asked it ahead of you. It’s as if I haul my own private ‘scribe’ around inside—ready to argue, ready to accuse.

But I have noticed something interesting in this story. When the father brought his son to Jesus, Jesus didn’t heal him right away. In fact, the demon caused the the boy to break into convulsions at Jesus’ very feet. And instead of casting the demon out right away, Jesus took the rime to the father questions. “How long has this been happening to him?” And so the father answered—giving Him some of the history. And then, Jesus goes off into a brief discussion with the father about the power of faith.

If I were that father, I might have been tempted to say, “Lord—! I’ve done what You’ve asked, already! I have brought Him to You! Can’t You just cast the demon out of the boy so that we can talk about all this other stuff later?” I confess that I have, at times, talked that way with the Lord about my wife. “I have brought her to You, Lord! I’ve done it many times! In fact, several of us have brought her to You—together! Can’t You just heal her now, please?”

But I am learning from this story that ‘bringing our troubles to Jesus’ doesn’t necessarily mean that Jesus solves them right away. It doesn’t even mean that He solves them our way. It simply means I have done the right thing with them. We have brought them to Jesus. And now, we must trust Him and wait for Him to take care of things in His way and in His time. I am learning that when Jesus says, “Bring your trouble to Me”, He means to bring all of it to Him—including my wishes and desires for what should happen in that problem—and leave it with Him.

Some would call that a cop-out. I don’t see it that way. I believe it’s a matter of the humility that must accompany true faith. I bring my wife’s and my need to Him—knowing that He will take care of it when the time is right. And it’s on those terms—and on those terms only—that we have done the right thing with our troubles and problems and challenges by bringing them to Him.

* * * * * * * * * *

So; whatever the challenge is that you’re facing, I urge that you stop trying to solve it your way. You may even need to repent of having tried to do the work of Jesus in your life—or in the life of someone else—without Him. You’ve tried to ‘use’ what He did before in your life—or perhaps what you saw Him do in someone else’s situation—and are not bringing it to Him directly with a fresh sense of commitment and a new sense of dependency upon Him. You have tried to accomplish the work of Jesus in your life—but without Jesus Himself.

Let’s take Jesus up on His invitation to do the only effective thing to do—bring it to Him!

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