I decided to share all three accounts of the same story that is related in Scripture. It helps me to better understand things. I believe one can get by with reading just one account though!
It seems when I read Scripture, stories like these cause me to immediately think on how they might relate to mental illness. In trying to do that in this article I pray I haven’t done harm to the text.
We all wrestle with unbelief on one level or the other. Some of us have gotten quite good at it! The point of all of this is to try and show us that as we struggle with a mental illness we can look to Scripture and not be condemned. There are examples of people all through the Bible who struggled with various things, unbelief being one of them. The twelve disciples didn’t exactly catch on immediately to who this Jesus was, even after witnessing so much. How often did Jesus use the words “Fear not?” He used them because folks were afraid. Our God doesn’t beat us up for our failings. He sent His Son to die for them. There is NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…. I pray I have communicated in a way that might be used of God to bless even one of you. Allan
Mark 9:14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them.
Mark 9:15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him.
Mark 9:16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?”
Mark9:17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute.
Mark 9:18 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 9:19 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 9:20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.
Mark 9:21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood.
Mark 9:22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Mark 9:23 And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.”
Mark 9:24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Mark 9:25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
Mark 9:26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.”
Mark 9:27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.
Mark 9:28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”
And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
Luke 9:37 And it happened on the next day, they coming down from the mountain, a huge crowd met Him.
Luke 9:38 And behold, a man cried aloud from the crowd, saying, Teacher, I beseech You, look on my son, for he is my only-born son.
Luke 9:39 And lo, a spirit takes him, and he suddenly cries out. And it throws him into convulsions, with foaming, and with pain departs from him, bruising him.
Luke 9:40 And I begged Your disciples to cast him out, and they could not.
Luke 9:41 And answering, Jesus said, O unbelieving generation, one having been perverted, how long shall I be with you and endure you? Bring your son here.
Luke 9:42 And as he was still coming, the demon violently convulsed and tore him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the child and delivered him again to his father.
Matthew 17:14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying,
Matthew 17:15 Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and grievously vexed; for oftentimes he falls into the fire, and often into the water.
Matthew 17:17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him here to Me.
Matthew 17:18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and he departed out of him. And the child was cured from that very hour.
Matthew 17:19 Then the disciples came to Jesus apart, and said, Why could we not cast him out?
Matthew 17:20 And Jesus said to them, Because of your unbelief. For truly I say to you, If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Move from here to there. And it shall move. And nothing shall be impossible to you.
Matthew 17:21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.
The above story, repeated three times, tells us of a father who brings his child to Jesus. His son was possessed by a mute spirit that would cause the child to do things that would put fear in the heart of any parent. It turns out that the disciples were not able to cast the demon from the boy and now the desperate father was asking Jesus to do what His disciples could not.
The story takes place immediately after Jesus, Peter, James, and John had come down from the Mount of Transfiguration where Jesus had been revealed in all of His glory. No sooner had they come down from the mountain, they were greeted by a huge crowd, including disciples who had been arguing with the Scribes. I imagine the Scribes were giving them the once over about this “character” Jesus. 🙂
That conversation ended immediately upon the crowd seeing Jesus and the three disciples. The story immediately zeros in on a father whose only son was possessed by a mute spirit that caused him to do harmful things to himself.
He had brought his son hoping that the disciples would heal him. I’m sure he must have heard of all of the mighty miracles Jesus had done as well as the twelve disciples. There is no indication the disciples here were of the twelve. He related to Jesus that the disciples were not able to help his son and now he was counting on Jesus to do away with this foul spirit, which Jesus proceeded to do.
As the disciples were later alone with Jesus they asked Him why they were not able to cast out the unclean spirit and Jesus responded that it was due to their unbelief. He then told them if they had faith like a mustard seed nothing would be impossible for them.
The father had presented to the disciples a son who had been afflicted for a long period of time. The physical appearance of this son must have shocked the disciples as the mute spirit had caused the child to do things that harmed him physically. This must have intimidated the disciples and they had not the faith to cast out the demon.
Despite the shortcomings of all involved, Jesus rebuked the demon and commanded it to never return. The faith of the father was built up and the disciples learned a valuable lesson. We also realize there were Scribes present who stubbornly refused to believe and Jesus soundly rebuked them for their unbelief.
Matthew 17:17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?
In reading these accounts I thought of myself and my journey with mental illness. In the story I see the child as an innocent victim. When I became sick I saw myself as an innocent victim. Instead of going straight to Jesus, the father went elsewhere. Instead of going to Jesus, I read books and tried to reason my way out of my affliction. The father and the disciples were told of their unbelief. Unbelief was the root of so much of my illness, to the point I quit God and relied on myself. I did this all while being a “dutiful Christian.”
As I read more and more about mental illness and the stories of those whom I care for who have been afflicted, it challenges my faith. When I see those who love God suffer emotionally I relate to their pain and wonder why the Godly suffer. Who hasn’t wrestled with that? What I pray for is that none of us will become like Solomon who declared all was vanity and vexation of Spirit. God doesn’t abandon us or leave us to a life of vanity.
John 14:15 If you love Me, keep My commandments.
John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, so that He may be with you forever,
John 14:17 the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him nor know Him. But you know Him, for He dwells with you and shall be in you.
John 14:18 I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you.
In the story the father cried out “I believe, help my unbelief “in response to Jesus saying all things are possible to Him who believes. The father, in honest humility, stated the condition of his heart and Jesus responded. Further, when the disciples asked why they couldn’t cast out the demon Jesus told them it was because of their unbelief. But….. He told them if they had faith like a mustard seed all things were possible to them.
We don’t read about Peter, James. or John in this story and I confess to wondering how they reacted to the situation. Peter didn’t exactly show himself a spiritual giant on the mount! It does show me though that although unbelief is nothing to be proud of, God doesn’t smite us because of it. He longs to fill us with His Spirit so that we might be able to stand against the attacks of the enemy as he continually seeks to bring us down.
1Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
1Peter 5:7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
1Peter 5:9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
Praise God there is more than one lion on the scene! He was also a lamb! Go figure!! 🙂
Revelation 5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.
Revelation5:2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”
Revelation 5:3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it,
Revelation 5:4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.
Revelation 5:5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Revelation 5:6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
Revelation 5:7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.
Revelation 5:8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Revelation5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
Revelation 5:10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
Revelation5:11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,
Revelation5:12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
Revelation5:13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
Revelation5:14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Nothing will EVER separate us from the Love of God. EVER!!