Series: Jesus Encounters
Message: Thy Olympic Wannabe
Preacher: Karl Haffner
Daily Walk: Karl Haffner
Refresh: Open with prayer. Read or listen to Psalm 89:27-37.
Read: Mark 9:17-27 (MSG). As you read, imagine the story from the father’s perspective.
Reflect: Benjamin was born a deaf mute. He was also an epileptic. But even worse, Benjamin was demon-possessed. You understand this cast a lot of scorn on me, his father. People all over town murmured, wondering what sin I had committed to cause this curse upon my son. Other dads took their boys to ball games. They bragged about how big and strong and fast their boys were. Benjamin was developmentally challenged. He was the brunt of all the jokes. One time we tried to take Benjamin camping. That proved to be a disaster. I turned my back for just a moment and saw my boy sitting in the fire. I dragged him out and doused him with dirt. The next morning he nearly drowned in the lake near our campsite. There really was no reason to pretend that we were a normal family that took camping trips. It was a bleak situation. I was on alert 24 hours a day, seven days a week—desperate, hopeless, and exhausted. Then I heard about this healer named Jesus. The stories sparked an ember of hope. Jesus had just been in the vicinity of the Decapolis where some people brought a deaf man who could hardly speak and Jesus healed him. Then He fed 4,000 people with seven loaves and a few small fishes. Then He healed a blind man at Bethsaida. Hope surged within my soul. My heart raced, giddy with anticipation. “Depart from him!” the disciples demanded of the demon. They slapped Benjamin’s forehead. My heart stopped. But nothing happened. My boy was still locked in his prison of insanity. I should have known better. We all know the cliché, right? “If it sounds too good to be true . . . it is.” I felt like an idiot for hoping. Just then Jesus arrived on the scene. I threw myself at His feet and cried out (Mark 9:17-18). Jesus didn’t attempt to hide His disgust (Mark 9:19). I dragged Benjamin to Jesus. He graveled in the dirt and spit on Him. He cursed and kicked. Jesus wanted to know how long he’d been like this. I said, “All his life.” Then I begged Jesus, “If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!” (Mark 9:22). Jesus was incredulous. “If?” He barked. “There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen” (Mark 9:23, The Message). I cried out, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!” Immediately Benjamin stopped his convulsions. At first I feared that he had died. But then he sat up. And for the first time in his life he looked me in the eye and he said, “Dad?” I threw my arms around him and repeated, “I love you, Son. I love you, Son.”
Respond: Talk to God in a manner that reflects the raw honesty of the father’s prayer.
Research: Do an Internet search on the topic of attitudes toward demon possession in the ancient world.