1. What different roles do you play each day in relationship to others in your life? (Spouse, parent, grandparent, child, sister, brother, employee, employer, friend, co-worker, church volunteer, community volunteer, neighbor, etc.)
2. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being all the time, how often do you let Jesus affect each role you play?
3. Does how much control you allow Jesus to have in each role, impact the lives of those around you for Jesus?
Beginning in Mark 8:27 we see a shift in Jesus’ earthly ministry. Here He begins to focus on preparing His disciples to carry on His mission. Jesus has now moved north from Bethsaida toward Caesarea Philippi. As Jesus walked along with His disciples He asked them what people were saying about Him. Then He asked them what they believed about Him. Peter blurts out, “You are the Messiah!” Then Jesus began to teach them about His coming death and resurrection. He is trying to help them understand what being the Messiah really meant. They struggled with the concept of a suffering Savior. Note that the transfiguration recorded in Mark 9:2-12 points specifically to Jesus’ divinity and fulfillment of the Law and prophets.
In today’s study we see Jesus as both a miracle-working Messiah and a teaching Messiah. Following the mountaintop experience with His inner circle of disciples, Jesus became immediately involved in a spiritual battle.
Powerless! Read Mark 9:14-18
These verses don’t explicitly explain the dispute between the disciples and the scribes, but past examples in Mark would indicate that the scribes consistently looked for ways to discredit Jesus and His disciples. When Jesus asked about the argument, the person with the greatest need stepped forward. Jesus would’ve already known the problem, but He wanted the person with the need to come forward and explain the situation.
1. What are some possible reasons that the disciples were unable to drive out the demon? (Remember when Jesus sent them out two by two they had been given authority over demons and had, in fact, cast out demons. Perhaps their lack of faith; the father’s lack of faith; the boys lack of faith; perhaps they were actually acting in their own power; etc.)
For whatever reason, the disciples were powerless to help in this situation. Their inability to act probably led to the dispute with the scribes and the crowd.
2. When we feel powerless, what do we tend to do first? Then next? And finally? (Solving powerless situations isn’t once-and-done but requires repeated efforts, steady attitudes, and deliberate calmness—all guided by Jesus.)
Put yourself in the apostles’ shoes; they were trying a new ministry venture, being confronted by powerful religious leaders, and unable to heal a man’s child as Jesus had sent them to do.
3. How can placing trust in someone other than Jesus to solve a problem in your life lead to frustration and disappointment? (We can have faith in faith but that won’t solve the problem. Our faith must be in Jesus. We can place a lot of trust in our pastor or a trusted counselor but our faith to resolve the issue must be in Jesus.)
4. How can we return to a better path if we’ve made mistakes or poor decisions? (We falsely label ourselves as failures, when the more likely reality is we simply need more training or practice. God’s grace allows us to reorient our trajectory. He will even use our mistakes for His good when we surrender them to Him!)
Not all illnesses result from demon activity. We must be careful not to attribute demonic activity in Scripture to simple mental illness.
Hopeless! Read Mark 9:19-21
1. How would you describe Jesus’ response when told the disciples were unsuccessful in driving out the demon?
Read verse 19 again.
Even though Jesus seemed to express frustration about the disciples’ actions, He still felt compassion for the father and moved to action.
2. What situations produce a sense of hopelessness?
3. How could Jesus make a difference in those situations?
4. What do Jesus’ words in verse 21 teach us about His treatment of people? (Put yourself in Jesus’ shoes, not Jesus in your shoes. Include the compassion, attention to the father’s needs, the boy’s needs, and care for others without a hidden agenda.)
These questions help us wrestle aloud with what we sometimes wonder within our minds.
5. How did the demon respond to Jesus?
6. What does this teach you about how to respond to Jesus?
7. What conclusions can we draw from the demon’s behavior? (Even the demon recognized Jesus’ power. The demon knew he would have to surrender to Jesus’ power! Sometimes we fight rather than listen to Jesus, and Jesus has the power of Almighty God!)
Faithless! Read Mark 9:22-24
1. How would you describe the father’s response?
2. Did the father question that Jesus could help his son?
3. Was Jesus mocking the father when He said, “If you can”?
4. What can be helpful when we have doubts or gaps in our faith? (We need Jesus’ help to believe. Jesus will help us serve, believe, and honor Him. He attends to even the minor details of our lives.)
Faithful! Read Mark 9:25-27
In these verses we see Jesus’ authority with two commands. First, Jesus commanded the demon to leave the boy. Secondly, He commanded the demon to never return. Both in this situation and in Mark 5:35-43, where Jesus healed Jairus’ daughter, a father was challenged to believe and had to overcome the doubts of a skeptical crowd.
1. What are some examples of Jesus’ working in a situation that seemed beyond reasonable hope?
2. How can these situations become opportunities to share His power, mercy, and grace with others?
3. What does this passage teach about how to treat evil? (Evil is seldom as obvious as this demon. Typically it’s sneaky and maybe even uses church words. To show how insidious evil is, generate a dozen ways evil manifests itself, such as an adult being cruel to a child, selfishness, saying the right words and doing the wrong thing, manipulation, whining, procrastination or overspending.)
Summarize and Challenge!
1. What tips would you give to new believers for expressing belief in Jesus? (Express faith in God’s Word by living it out in your daily life. Right living produces right results in our spiritual lives. We must trust that the way God directs us to live is the way to peace!)
Belief is more than a set of words or a once-and-done decision. As we instruct new believers we are instructing ourselves!
2. Are you having trouble believing Jesus for right now?
Some areas of our life may be experiencing strong faith while in other areas we need help with our unbelief! Cry out to God as this father did: “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!”