Mark 9 – Weaksauce Faith

Mark 9 Bible with Simple Truth Organic Marcona Almond Dark Chocolate on snowman plate
Oh hey, the snowman plate is seasonally appropriate again.

Today’s ChocolateSimple Truth Organic 73% Cacao Marcona Almond Dark Chocolate

Today’s PassageMark 9

Mark 9 contains a verse that I wish didn’t have to be quite so meaningful to me. You may be familiar with the scene where it appears: following the transfiguration, Jesus finds his disciples unsuccessfully attempting an exorcism. The father of the demon-possessed boy brings him to Jesus, begging Jesus to help, if possible. When Jesus responds that all things are possible to him who believes, the man cries out: “I do believe; help my unbelief!” (24).

I’ve done considerable study on the word used here for “believe.” It’s πιστεύω, pisteuó, in some places translated “believe,” but in other spots it’s better translated “trust.” It’s not simply thinking a thing is true; ancient Greek has a different word for that. Pisteuó implies the involvement of a person that one trusts. It means that you believe a certain thing because of the perceived trustworthiness of someone else. For example, you have pistis (the noun form) in a merchant when you do business with him. And there’s another thing about the word: it means you’re ready to take action based on your trust. You’re willing to put your money where your mouth is.

And the word shows up quite early in the conversation. As soon as Jesus shows up and the boy’s father catches him up to speed on the disciples’ failure to exorcise the demon, he exclaims: “O unbelieving generation!” (19). Same word: you might render it “O faithless generation.” After getting over his disappointment and kicking the demon out of the kid, Jesus informs the disciples privately, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer” (29). One may infer that the disciples weren’t communicating with God as they attempted the exorcism, weren’t inviting him into the process, and at the root of their failure was a failure to trust.

But the father trusts. He came to the disciples for help, and when they couldn’t get the job done, he came to Jesus. Having seen one failure, he doesn’t know if Jesus is even capable of saving his son, but he’s got to try. His cry of “I do believe; help my unbelief!” (24) shows us a man between trust and doubt. It’s a halfway house of faith. And apparently, if you’ve got even some modicum of faith, Jesus is ready to get to work on your behalf.

I wish the father’s words didn’t speak to me like they do. I wish I could be like that man of whom Jesus said, “I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel” (Matthew 8:10). Or how great would it be to be like those countless folks who sought healing from Jesus without making any qualifying statements about their persisting doubts, those whom Jesus told, “Your faith has made you well.” But without getting too deep into my trust issues, I’m not. I’ve still got my questions, my things I disbelieve, my epistemic junk. And so, much to my dismay, I must take comfort in the fact that Jesus loves and helps even those with weaksauce faith.

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