Shelby G. Floyd
Good morning, we are glad that we can all be together and worship God from our own homes. The New Testament church had to worship from their homes because of persecution. And we are worshiping from our home because we are being persecuted by a virus. We will all survive this and we thank God that he has protected us.
Today I am speaking to you because of a picture I recently noticed of a little girl. On this picture the little girl said, “Give it to God and have faith.” Sometimes little children handle difficult things a lot better than the adults do. They have great faith in their parents and they have great faith in God. It is like one of my little great granddaughters said, “Covid 19, Covid 19, we are all in this together.” Therefore we must trust God that he will bring all of us through this safe and sound.
MOUNTAIN TOP EXPERIENCE
In order to present this lesson to you, it is necessary that we present some of the background material. Jesus took Peter, James and John—three of his apostles, to an exceedingly high mountain. We do not know exactly which mountain this has reference to. It could refer to mount Tabor which was located east of the Sea of Galilee. Or on the other hand, it could refer to Mount Hermon which was located in the northern part of Palestine. And it seems that modern scholarship prefers Mount Hermon, because Jesus and the apostles were in the area of Caesarea Philippi just before he was transfigured on the Mount. And Mount Hermon is located in the general area of Caesarea Philippi.
We notice that while they were on this mountain, Jesus was transfigured before them. His face did shine like the sun, his garments were as white as light, and they were whiter than any detergent cleaner could make them. Also, there appeared with Jesus, Elijah and Moses. Elijah was the great prophet who prophesied to Israel and Judah before they were taken into captivity. And of course Moses was the Great Law Giver, having received the law on mount Sinai from God, and bringing it down and giving it to the children of Israel. Moses had a mountain-top experience like Jesus!
So Peter was elated by seeing Jesus, Moses and Elijah. And he proposed that they build three Tabernacles, one for Christ, one for Moses and one for Elijah. But all of a sudden a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice spoke from heaven and said, “This is my beloved son, listen to him—hear him!” Then Moses and Elijah disappeared and there was no one left standing except Jesus. So the lesson we learn was that the Law of Moses was to be annulled. And also, no longer would the writings of the great prophet Elijah be applied to God’s people. But instead, the message of Jesus Christ and his apostles would be the law for the new institution—the church.
After this, Jesus and the three apostles came down from the top of the mountain. I have never been upon a really high mountain, but when we drive from Florida, it is exhilarating as you come out of Chattanooga driving north to ascend to the top of Mount Eagle. But you can only be exhilarated for a short time and then you start the long descent down into the beautiful Tennessee valley below. It is a wonderful mountaintop experience like that of Peter, James and John. But no one can stay on the top of the mountain for very long, because soon we must come down to the foot of the mountain where real life is going on all the time. This is where real people live and work and carry on every day activities.
THE CONTROVERSY AT THE FOOT OF THE MOUNTAIN
And so they came down from the top of the mountain to the valley below. When they came to the disciples they saw a great multitude around them and the scribes from Jerusalem were disputing with them (Mark 9:14). It is interesting that the great painter Rafael has left us a classic painting depicting Jesus and the three apostles on the top of the mountain, while at the bottom of the mountain was disputing and controversy among the disciples and the scribes from Jerusalem.
There is no doubt that these disciples included the other nine apostles that were left down below, when Jesus and his inner circle ascended to the top of mountain. I must remind you that all of the apostles were disciples, but not all disciples are apostles. Jesus had many, many disciples, but He only had twelve apostles. So what Jesus found at the bottom of the mountain was a lot of controversy and chaos. While there was a lot of disputing they had only settled the fact that the disciples could not heal a young boy! When all the people saw Jesus the scripture says they came running to him (Mark 9:15). Jesus already had a reputation as a great teacher and healer of all kinds of diseases. Now they wanted to see if Jesus could heal the young boy that the disciples could not heal.
THE PLEADING FATHER
Now that the crowd is surrounding Jesus, he asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them” (Mark 9:16)? At this point, the father does not wait for the scribes to answer the question of Jesus. The father answered Jesus immediately and told him that he had brought his son who had a deaf and dumb spirit to his disciples. And in Luke’s account, the father said, “Teacher, I implore you, look on my son, for he is my *only child” (Luke 9:38). To those who have an only son or daughter, you can understand how much this father loved this young boy.
Then he described how this affected his son: “And whenever 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” (Mark 9:18, 25). Notice specifically how this father described the awful condition of this lad:
He is deaf and dumb
Throws him down
Foams at the mouth
Gnashes his teeth
He becomes rigid
Matthew in his account gives further details how this unclean spirit had affected his son:
And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him” (Matthew 17:14-16 NKJV).
It is noteworthy that Matthew describes his condition as being epileptic. The original Greek word literally means to be “moonstruck!” And the KJV translates the word “lunatic!” He certainly was acting like a lunatic, but most other translations use the word “epileptic” or the equivalent! And finally the father let Jesus know that he had brought his son to the disciples to cast the evil spirit out, “but they could not cure him” (Matthew 17:16; Mark 9:18). It is strange that the disciples could not heal this young boy. Jesus had given them this power earlier in his ministry and they were elated that they had this power and that the spirits were subject to them. Something has happened since then and we shall discover what it is later in this lesson!
I think all fathers could learn from this how important fathers are in the growth and training of children. This father had stepped up to the plate and assumed his God given responsibility to be the head of the family. In our gender less society, we are being told that fathers are not really needed today—that the wife, a boyfriend, a girlfriend etc. can raise the child. No doubt this is the reason so many young men are in trouble with the law! But from the beginning of time God has given the headship of the home, family and parenting to the father! “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Ephesians 3:14-15). Step up fathers to your responsibility like this father (Ephesians 6:4)!
It is at this point that Jesus rebuked the entire crowd, including the people, scribes and his disciples: “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to me” (Mark 9:19).
HELP MY UNBELIEF AND HEAL MY BOY!
They brought the father’s only son to Jesus, “immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed foaming at the mouth” (Mark 9:20). Then Jesus asked the father how long this had been happening to him. The father replied that this has been happening to him from childhood, “and often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him” (Mark 9:20-21).
Next, the father expresses that he has some doubt, maybe even “little faith” that Jesus could actually heal his boy. We are not exactly sure why this is the case, because he believed initially that Jesus or his disciples could heal his son. Perhaps this doubt has crept into his heart since the disciples could not heal his son. But anyway, he has some doubt, because he said to Jesus, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (Mark 9:22). Take notice that he used the word “if.” As my mom said so many times to me, “if” is a big word. The word if as the father used it in reply to Jesus conveys the idea of doubt. Jesus replied back to the father, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23). Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24 NKJV). We read of several people in the Bible who believed, but had some doubt. For instance, we read about doubting Thomas who changed his mind to solid faith after he had some physical evidence. And even Sarah in the Old Testament who doubted that she would have a son in her advanced age and even laughed at the promise that God gave her. So it is quite common in many people who believe, to also have some doubts. Everyone should seek to strengthen their faith and honestly cry out to God, “Help my unbelief!” I believe Jesus showed favor to this father, because he could see that he was honest when he confessed that he needed some help for his unbelief.
When Jesus saw that many people came running toward him to see what he would do, he rebuked the unclean spirit, and said, “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” (Mark 9:25-27 NKJV). Matthew in his account described the healing very briefly, “He rebuked the demon and it came out of him and he was healed at that very hour” (Matthew 17:18).
THE PRIVATE MEETING OF THE DISCIPLES AND JESUS
After it was all over, when Jesus and his disciples came together privately, the disciples asked him why they could not cast out the spirit. Jesus told them that this particular kind can only come out with prayer and fasting (Mark 9:28-29). This seems to indicate that even though the disciples had done this before, now they are trusting in themselves. Jesus had been gone and away from them, and they are not praying like they should, and not depending upon God to be with them in their endeavors. The idea then is that no matter how talented you are or how many gifts God gives you, we should never fail to thank him and trust him for help in dealing with the issues of life. These disciples were over their head. Have you ever taken on a job that you needed to do and after you started you realized I am over my head and I need somebody to help me? Often we are not as smart as we think we are. Therefore, these disciples were over their head, and they needed the help of the Lord, and they needed prayer in order to be able to heal and cast out demons in the name of the Lord.
However, in Matthew’s account, Jesus told his disciples some additional reasons why they had not been able to cast out the evil spirit:
“Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:20-21 NKJV).
Jesus said the number one reason why they could not heal the young man was because of unbelief! Their faith was not as strong as they thought it was. And then Jesus said to his disciples that if they had the faith of a mustard seed, they could say to this mountain, move from here to there, and nothing would be impossible for them to do. The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds that are used in Palestine. But Jesus was not talking about how little the seed was, he was talking about the faith of a mustard seed. Because God has created the law of sowing and reaping, we have faith that when we plant that mustard seed, it is going to germinate and come to life and bear fruit. And just as we have faith in the law of the mustard seed, so we must have faith that we can move mountains. Mountain moving faith was perhaps suggested by Jesus because he and the three apostles had been up on a high mountain. Mountain moving faith does not mean that we can go around tossing mountains from here to there. It would be like throwing the Rocky Mountains out into Iowa. That is not what mountain moving faith means. It is a figure of speech, using hyperbole or exaggeration to make the point. It means that if we have mountain moving faith we can accomplish things that seem almost impossible for man to do. And this happens all the time in many different realms!
MOUNTAIN MOVING FAITH
The Bible has a lot to say about faith. Scripture says, “We walk by faith and not by sight.” The Bible also uses many different adjectives to describe faith. We read of weak faith, strong faith, rich in faith, little faith and great faith.
Since faith is so important, we ask, what is faith? We are not left in doubt, because the Bible defines and explains faith. For instance, the writer of the book of Hebrews says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). We read further, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3 NKJV).
Faith is the substance of things hoped for. We understand the use of the prefix “sub” becomes a part of words like sub-foundation, sub-flooring, subterranean—a passage way under the earth, and submarine—that which is down under the water. Therefore, faith is that which stands down under everything that we hope for. Without faith we cannot have much hope here, or hereafter. We watch many shows of the Cabin Masters up in the state of Maine. They rehab old cabins that have run down through the years. Usually, the children of the owners want to use them. And so they need to rebuild them because they are in bad shape. They usually find out that they are not level because the sills down under have rotted. Therefore, they must jack up the cabin and install new sills and make it level again. Perhaps that is what we need to do with our lives. We need to make sure we’ve got a good foundation that stands down under everything that we believe.
The question is how do we obtain faith? The Bible tells us explicitly, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). And most important of all, we must have faith in Jesus Christ and everything that he said, and taught. That is no problem because the apostle John at the end of his biography of Christ said, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).
We have already discovered that faith is our foundation that stands down under all that we hope for. The biblical faith is based upon the ability, and the integrity of Almighty God. Does God have the ability to do what he says he has done and will do? In other words, is our God able to do all that he says he will do? The Bible answers that question for us:
Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Hebrews 11:11 “Sarah judge God faithful who had promised.”
Matthew 3:9, “God is able to raise up of these stones.”
Romans 14:4, “God is able to make a man stand.”
2 Corinthians 9:8, “God is able to make all grace abound.”
Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”
Philippians 3:21, “He is able even to subdue all things to himself.”
2 Timothy 1:12, “God is able to keep that which we have committed.”
We believe in God’s integrity, because he will do what he says he will do, because he cannot lie. He embodies truth to the fullest extent. The Scriptures declare God’s integrity.
Titus 1:2, In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.”
Numbers 23:19, God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man that he should repent. Has he said, and will he not do? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it good?
It is so good to speak to you today about the fact that we must “Have Faith in God!” We do not know how long we will be involved in this crisis. But above all, let us remember the words of that little girl: “Give it to God and have faith!” We will all come out of this in a good way if we will just “Have Faith in God!
*In Luke 9:38 “only child,” is an adjective translated from the Greek word (monogenes) and in reference to human beings is translated “only son or only child.” Compare Luke 7:12, “the only son of his mother”; Luke 8:42, “for he had an only daughter.”