20190331 Sunday Worship Sermon
“According to your faith” (Mark 9:14-29)
Jesus took three disciples, Peter, James and John to a high mountain.
On that mountain Jesus transfigured before these disciples.
His face shone and his clothes became dazzling white.
Today’s text introduces an event that occurred after Jesus and his disciples came down from the mountain.
While Jesus and his three disciples were away at the mountain, the other disciples who stayed behind in the village tried to heal a boy possessed by an evil spirit.
The disciples did not succeed to drive the evil spirit out of the boy’s body.
Let us imagine this scene and compare these two groups of disciples.
The disciples on the mountain just participated in Jesus’ glory and transfiguration.
But the disciples who were down in the village are struggling with a difficult problem.
What do you think about it?
Our Christian life is like that.
At times, we Christians experience glory and the work of heaven in our lives.
However, we still face our daily dilemma that makes us helpless and discouraged.
Yes, I think a Christian life is a cycle of these two.
When we are convinced with our faith in our salvation or filled up with Holy Spirit, we are experiencing the glory and work of heaven.
However, we find easily ourselves standing in front of the pain and problems.
The problems could be our own, our family’s, or even friends’.
Have you experienced such problems?
Problems that you could not comprehend or made you feel discouraged and helpless?
I am sure we all have.
Perhaps, some of us are suffering even at this very moment.
As I preached few weeks ago, prophet Elijah became discouraged after his encounter with hardship.
Elijah won the battle over the prophets of Baal.
He experienced the glory and power of God.
But the joy did not last long.
Elijah became afraid of Jezebel and ran for his life.
His pain was so great and he prayed to God to take his life away.
It seems ironic, but that is how we are.
Let’s look at today’s story.
The boy with an evil spirit had seizures.
According to Greek origin, the boy was born with this condition.
We can assume how difficult it must have been for the boy and his family.
The boy’s father must have tried different ways to heal his son.
Nothing worked for the boy to get healed.
And then, the father heard about Jesus and his disciples.
He heard that Jesus was able to heal sicknesses and perform miracles.
The father might have thought this Jesus could heal his son.
When the father arrived at the place where he could meet Jesus, Jesus was not around.
Jesus went up in the mountains with three disciples, leaving the other nine disciples there.
The father went to the remaining nine disciples and asked them to help his son.
Upon the father’s request, the disciples tried various ways to drive the evil spirit out of the boy’s body.
But, nothing worked.
Imagine how embarrassed the disciples must have been.
In this chaotic moment, Jesus came down from the mountain and realized the situation that his disciples were faced with.
The disciples asked Jesus a very important question.
They asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
They wanted to ask why they could not solve the problem on their own?
And Jesus answered the question.
“You faithless generation, How much longer must I be among you?”
Jesus scolded his disciples for not having faith.
I believe Jesus says the same thing to us now.
Jesus teaches us how our faith can turn despair to hope through this story.
We experience incomprehensive pains and difficulties in our lives.
Jesus wants to strengthen us to overcome those obstacles with faith.
Jesus says that we must have faith.
We need to learn and obtain this faith so we can overcome all the hardships in our life without getting despair.
I would like to look at this faith in three different perspectives.
First, we need to have faith in Jesus.
To whom did the boy’s father visit first?
He went to the disciples.
The boy’s father was hoping that the disciples knew the solutions.
But the result was disappointing.
The disciples could not do anything for this boy.
They could not solve the problem.
Have you experienced something similar?
Perhaps you know somebody in great pain.
All you could say is “Go to church. Have a religion”.
That person would take your advice and decide to go to church.
He would participate in a worship service and pray as he was told.
He would ask pastors to pray for him and ask for consultation.
Despite of all his effort to be religious, nothing worked for him.
I am not saying that pastoral leadership is useless.
I am saying that the first thing we need to seek is a firm foundational relationship with our lord.
Seeking help from people because they are in certain positions in church might not provide you with the right answer.
Also, please understand that your active participation in various church ministries does not guarantee your problems to be solved.
Those are like street signs.
The street signs would show you how to get to your destination.
They are not the destination itself.
What is church?
You could come to church every Sunday, but remain unchanged, and stay as the same old person.
Coming only to church, would not change us.
You have to seek Jesus with all your heart and meet Jesus personally.
Pastoral teachings and counseling are directing you to Jesus.
However, many Christians are confused by the thought that they can be changed if they meet with a famous spiritual leader.
They also think that they will grow up to be perfect Christians if they are members of a great church.
None of it is true.
The only answer is Jesus.
You have to encounter with Jesus.
I wonder why some people do not change and some people do.
Some people, even though they have been in church for decades, would not change.
Do you know why?
I think the reason is that they did not seek Jesus and did not meet with Jesus.
It is too fundamental so I am afraid that we might take it lightly.
Let’s look at the story again.
Let’s look at the helpless disciples and the miserable father.
The father was truly anticipating something great from the disciples.
Indeed, they were the disciples of Jesus.
They should have some power like Jesus, right?
If Jesus could perform miracles, the disciples sure could also.
The father hoped for help but there was nothing the disciples could give him.
They had to wait till Jesus came back from the mountain.
As soon as Jesus realized the situation, he told them to bring the boy to him.
They brought the boy to Jesus.
That was when something really amazing happened.
Yes, you have to bring the problems to Jesus.
You have to bring them to Jesus first.
Only Jesus has power to solve our problems.
Only Jesus can change us.
How about you?
Are you truly seeking Jesus?
Are you coming to Jesus with your problems?
Having a membership at a church, coming to a regular worship service, listening to a sermon, giving an offering, praying and doing some volunteer work are meaningless unless there is Jesus.
Jesus is the one who built us, gave us life, healed us of our sickness, consoled our broken heart, restored our circumstance and walked into the middle of our life.
That Jesus says to you.
“Come. Come to me with all your problems”.
Yes, we need to go to Jesus.
We need to bring our problems to Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, what makes us to overcome the world?
What makes us to overcome the hardships and pains in our life?
Jesus is the only answer.
Looking at Jesus and having faith in Jesus will help you to overcome.
I bless each one of you to have this faith in Jesus.
Secondly, we must have faith in the power of Jesus.
In verse 22, the boy’s father said to Jesus,
“It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.”
Let’s listen to what he said again.
“If you are able to do anything…”
Jesus answered to the father, “‘If you are able?’ - All things can be done for the one who believes.”
Jesus saw hopelessness in the boy’s father’s lack of faith.
The father seemed to give up on hopes and perhaps he just tried to be polite by asking without any expectation from Jesus.
The father might have thought that Jesus could not do any better than the disciples who failed to help him.
Jesus scolded him for lack of faith and it changed the father’s answer immediately.
“I believe; help my unbelief!” (verse 24)
In Matthew chapter 17, which illustrates the same story, Jesus told his disciples that the reason why they could not heal the boy was because of their little faith.
Jesus did not say that they do not have faith.
He said that they have little faith.
As you know, the disciples were not people without faith.
They left everything to follow Jesus.
However, their faith might have been faded as time went on.
A Christian who is filled up with Holy Spirit would walk the walk faithfully but can get distracted and become unfaithful.
We see worldly standards that could sway even faithful Christians at times.
Jesus scolds them for little faith.
When things are going fine around us, we seem to have no difficulty practicing our faith.
However, when we are encountered with problems and hardships, we can easily become dismayed and unfaithful.
We think that we have faith but we might not have given all the way.
We have not believed no matter what.
Our faith might not have rooted deeply.
We may appear to be the same Christians, but size of our faith could be different.
Some might have little faith.
Some might have deep faith whose life is always entrusted in the Lord.
Our faith is not fixed.
Our faith should be growing, dynamic and living.
Brothers and sisters, do you really rely on the Lord?
Or are you on the verge of denying, and also not trusting Him with all your heart?
When you do not trust Jesus with all your might, you are limiting his power and impact on your life.
Our lack of faith limits Jesus’ ministry.
Jesus said before he healed the sick people, “It will be done according to your faith.”
I believe this should be the core of our lives.
Little faith will bring little ministry.
Big faith will bring big ministry.
Everything will be done according to our faith.
No matter what kind of problems you might have, believe that Jesus can help you to overcome the problems.
Our God is not small.
God can do more than just making you go through your daily obstacles.
God wants to enable you to live your life fully and dream the dream that He prepares for you.
You must remember that everything is possible for him who believes.
Nothing will be impossible for you.
Lastly, I want you to have faith in the power of prayer.
In verse 28, disciples asked Jesus, “Why could we not cast it out?”
Jesus replied, “This kind can come out only through prayer.”
When we do not pray and when we lose the power of prayer, our faith for God could be shaken.
We do not make any difference in our lives.
Then what is prayer that is so powerful?
Many people define prayers in different ways but I would like to say that it is to focus on God.
Focusing on God is prayer.
When we look at the world, we may be entrapped in worldly worries.
When we keep looking at those worries, they become bigger and bigger.
They will become so big you cannot see anything else but the problems.
However, what happens when you pray?
You focus on God.
When you fixate your eyes on God, He will get bigger in your life.
And your problems will look smaller and smaller.
Then you can proclaim to all your worldly worries and problems like this, “All things can be done for the one who believes.”
In Matthew 17, Jesus also said, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move.”
Jesus was not just interested in healing the sick.
Jesus wanted to teach us this faith so we can apply in our lives so we can thrive.
Even if our problems seem to be like mountains, if we can focus on our God who would easily overcome them, we can face the hardships in our lives.
One thing that Jesus truly wanted us to understand is this.
He wanted us to have faith so we can experience his miracles in our lives.
Jesus wanted to tell us that nothing is impossible for those who believe through this story.
Brothers and sisters, how would you overcome against endless obstacles that try to make us fall?
It is faith in Jesus Christ.
It is faith in the power of Jesus.
It is faith in the power of prayer.
Now I want you to think about all the problems in your life and bring them to Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Lay them down before the Lord.
Lift your eyes from the problems to the Lord.
Trust in the Lord who is powerful.
Open your mouth to pray.
I bless you to experience the healing and restoration of Jesus in your life. Amen.