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Jesus Can & Does Help (Mark 9:14-29) Pentecost 16B

September 16, 2012

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Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost                                                   Trinity Lutheran Church

16 September 2012                                                                       Murdock, NE


St. Mark 9:14-29


Can you imagine being the parent of a boy who is attacked by a demon?  Can you imagine being the boy?  When the demon attacks he can’t talk.  The demonic spirit takes over his body – flings it to the ground – and he is stiff as a board.  Mouth foams.  Teeth grind.  And there’s nothing you can do!  How awful being under the grip of such Satanic powers!  How totally helpless! 


Try the disciples.  Maybe they can help.  Nope.  Peter, James, and John haven’t even figured out what Jesus meant when He promised that He’d rise from the dead as they came down the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:9).  And all that mountain talk about Jesus suffering and dying.  The other nine that didn’t go up the mountain are no match for the demonic powers.  They didn’t even pray to Jesus who has just been revealed in glory on the Mount of Transfiguration.  They tried to help the boy all on their own.  


Dad can’t do it.  The boy can’t help himself.  He’s in bondage to this unclean, demonic power.  And the disciples – they’re of no help either.  “And who is it that you disciples follow?  Jesus?  I’ll bet He’s just as worthless as His followers!” the scribes would say to discredit Jesus. The nine disciples all have a big discussion about it with the crowds and scribes.  They’re all totally helpless!  They’re not in charge.  Someone outside of themselves can only help them and the boy!      


So finally the demon possessed boy is brought to Jesus.  Now there’s an idea!  Jesus.  Yes, let’s take him to Jesus!


Jesus rips off a harsh statement:  “O unbelieving generation.  How long will I be with you?  How long will I put up with you?  Bring the boy to me!”  UNBELIEVING GENERATION!  There God Himself stands in their midst.  He’s Jesus!  He’s amazed at their unbelief. 


And right away the demonic spirit goes to work again!  Shows off!  As if he’s in charge!  Seizes up the boy’s body with convulsions, rolls him on the ground, and foams at the mouth.  It’s been happening for a long time.  Then the demonic spirit heaves the boy’s body into fire — then into water — in order to destroy him.  Did you catch that?  Not just to possess him but DESTROY HIM! 


There’s only One who can help.  And Him alone!


“Jesus, if you can help him,” the father prays, “take pity on us and help us.”


“If I can?”  Jesus responds.  “Everything is possible to the person who believes.”  That is to say:  faith in Jesus.  Believe and you have it.   


Who will trust in Jesus?  Who will pray to Him for help? 


The disciples?  No.  The father.  “I do believe.  Help me overcome my unbelief,” he prays. In other words, “I’m nothing.  But Jesus – you’re everything.”   


And Jesus is.  He speaks.  “You deaf and mute spirit I command you – come out of him and never enter him again!”  His Word does what it says.  The demon shrieks, convulses the boy one more time, and departs.  He’s not dead.  Jesus takes him by hand and stands him up. 


Restored.  Freed. 


Jesus has done the same for you who believe.  Yes, for you too.  Everything is possible for you who believe. 


Your parents brought you to Jesus when you were children.  Most of you were babies.  Brought you to Jesus so that He would save you from Satan himself and all his wicked, unclean hellish power!  Jesus laid His hands on you, blessed you with His Name, and buried you into His Good Friday death.  All at the baptismal font!  Jesus made a promise to you there:  “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mark 16:16).


And Satan had to flee.  You don’t belong to him because Jesus has you.  Safe in His wounds!  Satan can bring no ugly accusations against you.  Because Jesus died for you!  You’re covered in His blood!  You are baptized into Christ!


Satan, however, still remains your enemy.  He prowls around looking to devour anyone he can.  Including you. 


His attacks are quite innocuous these days.  Don’t see many people like the boy in the text foaming at the mouth or being hurled to the ground in convulsions. 


Instead, the satanic attacks come this way.  He parades around as an angel of light, a very religious chap, and he proposes the following:  “Did Jesus really say that?  You really can’t trust Jesus.  He’s just a fraud.  He won’t help you.  Take care of your sins and problems all by yourself.  Don’t waste your time with Jesus or any of his gifts.  Baptism hasn’t helped you.  The Lord’s Supper is a colossal con job.  What has all that done for you?  Trust yourself.  Take charge of your life.  You have the power.  There’s a spark of divinity within you!  You have potential!  Just look deep inside yourself!” 


Those are all lies.  Demonic lies.  I tell you the truth.  Jesus alone is your Savior.  His promises are certain and sure.  As certain and sure as His dying and rising for you.  “Satan, drop you lies.  Stop your ugly accusations!  For I am baptized into Christ!”   


And this same Jesus has taught you how to pray. When you pray, say, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name, thy kingdom come, … deliver us from the evil one etc.”  And in that prayer you confidently expect Him to give you all that you need.  After all, He knows what you need even before you do.  We are nothing.  Jesus is everything. 


To Him alone be all the glory, praise, honor and thanksgiving!  Amen.                

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