How helpless are you? I bet the last time you worked up a resume, you didn’t list helplessness under the category of “strengths of the applicant.” I mean, how can helplessness be a strength? Isn’t it by definition a weakness? We pride ourselves on virtues like independence, resilience, inner strength, confidence and dependability. What about helplessness is attractive or useful? If you’ve noticed through our study of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus likes to turn things upside down. So, could it be that our greatest strength or asset on the journey of following Jesus is helplessness? Often the Kingdom turns our world around so that the first shall be last and losing your life actually saves it. Our text this week is no different. True strength, Jesus says is found in helplessness.
Jesus had just revealed His true glory on the Mount of Transfiguration to the inner three. They were however still very confused about his impending suffering and resurrection. Like Moses, coming down from Sinai, Jesus is met with a people plagued by unbelief. A crowd had formed, including the Scribes who were arguing with them. A man relayed the story of his son who was possessed with a spirit which made him mute and caused violent spasms. He brought the boy to the disciples but they could not cast the demon out. Jesus’ response was to categorize the entire generation as unbelieving! The boy is brought before Jesus and the father admits that he has doubts as to whether or not Jesus can heal him. Jesus declares that “all things are possible to him who believes.” The man begged for more faith–“help my unbelief!” Jesus commanded the demon to leave and the boy was rescued. When the disciples inquired about their inability to cast out the demon Jesus’ response was that “this kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” In other words, you weren’t helpless enough. You did not depend on the Father, but on yourselves.
This week, we will be considering this text with a message entitled, Mission Strategy: Prayer, from Mark 9:14-29. Have you ever run into a situation in your life that was so debilitating that no matter what you tried to do, it would not go away or get better? Imagine this man’s plight as a parent who’s son was tormented day and night by a demon who would throw him into violent convulsions and even into the fire? How helpless would you feel? How do you respond to situations like these? I think Jesus’ response to the disciples is one of the keys to prayer. We cannot make any progress in this life until we realize that WE cannot make any progress in this life. It must be God–his power, working through His Spirit, for His glory. If that is our understanding we simultaneously become helpless and incredibly strong. We become dependent upon God and lose our confidence in our own abilities. Is it possible that the thing that you are dealing with in your life is a mechanism that God is using to teach you to depend on Him? Are you helpless? Join us this Sunday as we seek to lay down our strengths and confidences and lean fully into Him.