Jesus reveals that this desperate situation was brought on by the disciple’s lack of faith. Matthew records why the disciples failed, “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” (Matthew 17:20). Their inability to cast out the demon was because “this kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:28–29). The mention of prayer and fasting is another indictment against the disciple’s faith. Jesus is so disappointed in them that He cried out, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?” (Mark 9:19). His disciples did not have the faith they ought to have had. Faith and prayer go hand in hand. It has been said, “One cannot exist without the other.” Faith needs to be exercised daily by prayer and other such works, without them it is dead (James 2:17,20).
The father in this account acknowledged the doubt that was attacking his faith. He cried out to Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24). Let us continually look to Jesus, not doubting the power of God (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus looked to this worried father and said, “Bring him to Me” (Mark 9:19). The emphasis here is on Jesus. He does not disappoint! Luke, in a parallel passage, adds “and they were all amazed at the majesty of God” (Luke 9:43).
- Josh Allen (Pikeville, KY)