If Jesus is Able?
Mark 9:23 Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.”
The father of the demon possessed boy comes before Jesus. His son has been afflicted for much of his life and often is hurt by throwing himself into the fire. Obviously this man wants his son to be healed. Finally he says, “if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.”
Quickly Jesus turns the statement around. The implication of the word “if” is to actually question the power and ability of Jesus. This is not about what Jesus can or cannot do, but this is about the faith of the father. Does the father believe in Jesus? Does the father believe that Jesus has the power to heal his son? Therein lies the true question.
Later the disciples ask Jesus why they were unable to heal this boy. Jesus responds that this kind can only come out by prayer, and now I wonder — whose prayer? Could it be that Jesus wasn’t talking about the disciples’ prayer life, but about the prayer life of the father? If the father didn’t have enough faith to believe Jesus could heal his son, how could he have faith to believe that the disciples could?
The story is a revelation of the power of Christ that can only be manifest in the presence of those who truly believe.
Could it be that we are thinking that Jesus doesn’t have the ability to answer prayer? He certainly does — but maybe not always in the way we imagine, and that may be because of our own personal failure in terms of our relationship with him. I want to be careful and don’t want us to imagine that if we spend hours in prayer all of a sudden we will get everything that we ask for in prayer. This could lead us into the direction of a works faith. This is not the case!
This was a situation of unbelief on the part of the person searching for the healing power of God. It’s not about the healing, but it is about faith. It’s about the father’s personal relationship with Jesus. The problem was that he didn’t have one! He wasn’t spending time in prayer, and he didn’t know Jesus. He was just asking for things out of his human understanding.
Jesus wants to do so much more for us than give us a response to a wish-list of prayer requests. He wants us to engage in a transformational relationship with him because he is able! And when we spend more and more time with him, then we begin to understand his very nature. Our prayer life is transformed and never again do we doubt Jesus’ ability. Instead we become a person of faith who believes in the power and the strength of the Holy Spirit, manifest in and through us.
Yes, Jesus can! Can you?
Lord, thank you for your patience with us. Amen.