Gazing upward, the sky was certainly sun filled and blue. The breeze alive with bird songs high above the fields being worked by hands of those at it since the light of dawn. Meanwhile, back on Earth…
There is a place along the village road where many are gathered around a loud, vocal group of men. At the center of the crowd is a boy, who seems to be the object of attention and combative arguments. It appears a few of those present are supposedly able to help.
This boy was brought here by his father as a last-ditch effort, one of many quests for real help and a cure. The boy suffers from a disabling disease of seizures which cause him to fall, convulse and harm himself due to a lack of control. It is frightening to see, and nothing has been able to stop it since he was very young.
Exasperated but hopeful, his father has gone to where he’s learned miracles of healing were taking place. There at least the boy might get through the crowd to be seen. The effort to get here was deemed worth the journey, seizures along the way or not.
Finally arriving at the place where these ‘miracle healers’ were based; it was crucial to get the boy in line for an audience with them. And while in line pondering whether these ‘miracle healers’ were even able to conjure up any sort of healing. Word on the street was that these men could heal anything. It didn’t seem plausible, yet people claimed it to be true. The father and son watched others get hands laid on them, healed and set free from all sorts of supposed demons.
One after another, sojourners went forward to be healed. And then it was the boy’s turn to be seen.
A crowd circled tightly around the boy and his father. The throng included people who had come for healing along with skeptics, scribes, legal men and church authorities; those who judged what is and what is not allowed in the church. Amidst the pushing and rabble of noisy, angry debate- some people were singing praises for healing they’d just received.
“Is this real?” the father wondered as he stood before the healers…
Coming down the well-worn dirt road from behind the thicket of people, four men approached. Jesus, John, Peter and James are viewing the street scene, walking toward a cacophony of loud voices as they enter the flash mob of humanity from the rear. They pass through the bodies standing shoulder to shoulder, noticing that all eyes are intently straining to see what is going on with a man and his boy. An uproar is arising from those who are accusing the ‘miracle healers’ of not being what they claim to be. Some are hurling insults; others offer religiously based death threats.
It is into this contested circle of dirt that Jesus emerges, taking center stage. (breathe)
Mark 9:15 – 27
Definition of IF:
a supposition; uncertain possibility
a condition, requirement, or stipulation
Standing toe to toe with Jesus, his hands wrapped around the boy and holding him close; the father reiterated how this had been a total fail. All of it. His words expressed how these ‘miracle healers’ were nothing like what everyone had said. They could not heal his son, not by a long shot. And now with any luck, the boy just might make it back home without having yet another seizure that causes further harm. The lack of on-the-spot healing had also sparked unrest and discord amongst the crowd – provoking those in authority to lash out vehemently over the claims of these traveling ‘healers.
As far as the father of this boy is concerned, what these healers are vending is nothing more than snake oil.
“But IF You can…take pity on us and help us” the father petitioned Jesus.
The man and his boy had no idea WHO they were talking to. Truthfully, I would be no different in such a situation. Had I traveled with my child to get healing and it had proved to be a non-starter, I’d be just as jaded, hesitant. I would have already left – shaking my head at being so very foolish and for thinking it was a real thing. I’d be embarrassed too. What a waste of time, and I had exposed my child to a rowdy crowd where a seizure could have happened at any moment. What a rip-off!
In the face to face conversation, the father of the seizure-plagued child resigns and asks one last time before giving up. “…but IF You can do anything…”
His IF is fraught with doubt and uncertainty, along with a bit of lament and lack of any heartfelt hope.
In response to this request and knowing that the crowd was after blood (but not all, some were simply excited to see Jesus) due to the previous failed healing episode; Jesus responds…
“IF You can?”
“IF You can?” and then followed with a challenge to the man and his child – to BELIEVE. It is not going to be the wave of a magic wand by which this boy will be healed. But first, do you BELIEVE I can do this? That is what Jesus challenged him with.
“I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” the father replies.
Ah! Now it can be done.
The things we believe can bring us harm, they can end up as nothing more than trickery. It is to our betterment that we weigh everything carefully before claiming a belief in it. Just as people will let us down, the ideals our politics advocate can be exposed as baseless and hollow. The father of this boy was wary and with good reason, as the situation was looking dismal indeed. He was way out of his element and every glimmer of hope seemed to be dashed… worthless. At this point of conflict, he was presented with the challenge to venture into waters unknown. To believe and to be freed from his reasons for doubt, his ‘IF’.
He accepted the challenge and chose to give Jesus the reigns to control the outcome. IF we BELIEVE what God says, then no matter what hurdles come our way; we are assured of His sovereign promise to walk us through. It will be well, and it will be for His glory. So, what happened next under blue skies at a place along a dirt road in everyday life was this…
The boy had one final seizure as Jesus prayed and laid hands upon him. That was it.
With a Word it was done, and the child was healed then and there. The crowd was silenced, doubts were erased, and awe filled the air. This is what happens IF we can BELIEVE in WHO and WHAT Jesus says He is and can do.
For Jesus to step into that unruly crowd of debate, anger and unbelief was akin to breaking up a clash between two unmovable sides of protest in any city street. People with multiple views, all of them strongly held – though often ill conceived. Here Jesus was once again the mediator, but this time His own disciples were part of the problem.
How He was able to apply grace in an instance where wrath was due is a testament to His command of any situation. Jesus DID rebuke and correct the disciples, and then He brought the focus back to the mission of showing the people that God has a better Way. A child was healed. A gathering of disparate world views was quenched with His presence and hand of restoration. No tear gas was dispersed. Go away in peace and reflect on what was done here. It is something to believe in.
We are so messy. Standing before the Most High we are a shambles of melted crayons and dryer lint. That God even gives us breath is beyond my comprehension. I would place myself in the trash bin to save God the trouble.
Rush titled an album “Grace Under Pressure” many years back. It certainly applies to how Christ handles our brokenness. Don’t you agree?