After Jesus and the disciples spent the night on the top of the mountain of transfiguration, they returned to earth and found the rest of the disciples embroiled in a heated argument with several scribes. On the mountain, three of the disciples beheld Jesus in all of his divine glory and were moved to worship. But after the mountain-top experience was over, it was time to reenter normal life.
As Jesus and the three gather with the other disciples, we find them in an awkward and even embarrassing situation. A father brought his demonized child to Jesus, and when he saw only the disciples he asked them to pray for the healing of his child. The disciples prayed, nothing happened, and the scribes pounced. In the middle of the fracas the father and his boy were pushed aside until Jesus arrived.
The ensuing conversation is only recorded in Mark’s gospel, and though Jesus does heal the boy, the heart of this story is not the healing. What is said between Jesus and the father is a beautiful and profound insight into the person of Jesus Christ.
The father goes into great detail describing to Jesus not only the failure of the disciples, but the depth of his child’s condition. He is deaf and mute, he has seizures and fits of paralysis, the demon attempts to take his life by drowning or burning, and this has been happening since he was a little child. It is hard to imagine the pain and desperation of this father as he holds his child in his arms before Jesus. At the end of the description he asks for Jesus’ help.
“But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” (vs. 22)
Jesus tells him that anything is possible to those who believe. The question at hand is not whether Jesus is able to heal the boy, but whether the father thinks he is able to. The father’s response is priceless.
“I believe; help my unbelief!” (vs. 24)
He has just enough faith to bring his child to Jesus, but he is intensely aware that there is still a lot of doubt and disbelief in him. So, how does Jesus respond to a broken father who can only express a broken faith? He heals his son!
Jesus does not tell him to go away and return when he has more of life and faith put together; he does not turn away a man who does not have it all figured out. As Isaiah put it in 42:3, he did not bruise a broken reed, he did not snuff out a smoldering wick.
This is the Jesus I have fallen in love with. This is a Jesus who takes the small seed of faith buried in a pile of hurt and doubt, and wraps the father and son in his arms. Don’t let any of your doubt or pain keep you from Jesus. He will not turn you away because you are far from perfect; on the contrary, he wants you no matter your doubt or disbelief.