Mark 9:14-32 (Monday)
None of Scripture was intended to be read. Although that may seem strange to us today, the ability to read was incredibly rare. For today, it’d be like having a doctorate. There are a number of professor’s out there, but you don’t run into them every day. Reading just wasn’t something most people needed to be able to do to get through their day. The agricultural and craftsman lifestyles didn’t need to keep many notes themselves. As a result, the writings, when they were used, were usually read aloud in a collective setting – and this is key. Because Scripture is meant to be heard – not read! All those with EARS, let them HEAR.
Because of this, there weren’t any of the nifty little headings that we find in our Bibles today. It was just one long story without breaks or chapters. So, the nice breaks that we often get around stories didn’t exist except for the past few hundred years. For today’s reading, both of these things are really important.
These two vignettes in Mark 9:14-32 (the healing of the child and the misunderstanding of the disciples) come back to back and would have been heard that way by Mark’s original audience. So, what I’d like you to do is try it. Take just a second to read these verses out loud. If you’re somewhere public, just try whispering if you want. But read it out loud and see what sticks out to you. I’ll wait here and I’ll do it too…
So, how was it? Awkward? Weird? Probably a little. But when I did it something new really stood out to me about this passage. In the first story, a man comes to Jesus asking for healing for his son. Jesus responds ‘oh you faithless people…how much longer do I have to put up with you. Bring me the boy.’ The father, distraught over Jesus’ seemingly kinda cruel response, cries out – ‘I want to believe! Please help my unbelief!’ He wants to save his son and will do whatever it takes to save him.
The next story is between Jesus and his disciples. He’s teaching them about what’s going to happen to him when he reaches Jerusalem. But they don’t get it. They don’t have belief/faith, just like the dad in the previous story. However, instead of putting aside their pride and asking for Jesus to help their unbelief (lack of understanding), they stay silent.
Here, in these few verses, a man from “this faithless generation” reaches out, pleads, and finds Jesus meeting him in his unbelief while the ones who are part of Jesus’ own inner-circle remain unmoved in their faithlessness. And this at a time when Jesus’s time with them was literally drawing short.
The problem with this is never unbelief. The problem is how we respond to it. We won’t have all the answers. We will doubt and question. Jesus doesn’t lament our struggle – it is one that he himself walked through (for he shared in all things but without sin). Embrace the places where you are unsure. Lean into the spots where the struggle is the most real and you are shaken like the son in the story. Push forward and call out for a help, a grace that will fill us in our uncertainty and bring healing.