14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.
17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”Mark 9:14-29 (NIV)
In the Star Wars movie, “Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back,” Yoda is attempting to train Luke Skywalker in the Jedi ways. Luke is impatient and quickly gives up when the tasks which Yoda gives him prove extremely difficult. As part of his training, Yoda instructs Lake to use his mind and the Force to lift Luke’s X-wing fighter out of the swamp where he crashed. Luke does not think it will be possible but tells Yoda that he will try. Yoda responds, “No. Try not. Do…or do not. There is no try.” Yoda emphasizes that only by believing you can will anything be possible.
In Mark’s account of Jesus’s ministry, we witness a scene when a man brings his son to be cured of an unclean spirit. When the man arrives with his son, Jesus is on a mountainside with three of his closest disciples. The remaining disciples attempt to cure the boy in Jesus’s absence but are unsuccessful. When Jesus rejoins them, the man requests Jesus’s help but begins the request with, “If you can…” Jesus repeats those words back to the man with what appears to be a bit of frustration. He then goes on to say that belief can make things possible. Jesus’s words prompt the man to declare his belief and requests Jesus to assist him in overcoming his unbelief.
Yoda has to show Luke the importance of believing in himself. Jesus has to show the man the importance of believing in Jesus. Frequently, we need to be reminded of the importance of believing. Believing not to just get something we desire but believing as the starting point in accomplishing in the midst of difficulty. The man’s response to Jesus is one which we all can echo. Even in the midst of our belief, we have areas of doubt or unbelief. Some of these doubts are not easy to overcome. We need to reach out to the Lord for assistance. Through the Spirit we can receive the tools to overcome our doubts. Sometimes those tools are provided through other people placed on our path. Sometimes these tools are only found in the midst of prayer as Jesus states at the end of our passage. Still other times, we receive the tools through the study of the Word.
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.”