Lessons from a Failure

Dr. Ray Pritchard
Dr. Ray Pritchard
2018 23 Feb

“Why couldn’t we drive it out?” (Mark 9:28)

What an embarrassment!

So you’re a disciple of Christ and a man brings you his demonized son, asking you to cure him. You’ve seen Jesus do that very thing, so you try to do what your Master does, and it doesn’t work.

Nothing happens.
The boy remains enslaved to the demonic spirit.

How do you finesse that situation?

Then Jesus comes and casts out the demon, and the boy is immediately healed. It’s good news for the boy and his father, but a total embarrassment for you and the other disciples.

What happened?

It’s easy to dismiss wrong answers.

It’s not because they didn’t try.
It’s not because they used the wrong words.
It’s not because they acted out of bad motives.

Why did they fail so miserably? The question answers itself. Their failure was necessary so that they might learn to depend on Jesus completely. When he challenges them to grow in faith, he doesn’t mean “have faith in faith.” He means, “Have faith in me as the Sovereign Lord who has absolute power over all the forces of darkness.” In God’s plan, their failure actually moved them along the pathway of spiritual growth. Now they know that healing isn’t about reciting some formula. All healing comes from the Lord, so they must be completely dependent upon him. In themselves they could not heal anyone.

Mark 9:29 adds a second factor to the equation, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” Victories in the spiritual realm will not come quickly or easily or without personal commitment.

What costs little accomplishes little.
What costs much accomplishes much.

Perhaps they had been carried away by past successes. Sometimes when things come too easily, we don’t appreciate their true cost. Our Lord intended this embarrassing lesson as a warning against taking spiritual warfare lightly. There are no easy victories won in our battle against evil. We must learn to depend on Christ completely and then hold nothing back if we would see “this kind” cast out.

Great victories for Christ will not be won by halfhearted effort.

Sovereign Lord, we thank you for our failures for out of them we learn anew the limits of our own strength. Thank you for letting us fail again and again that we might learn to trust you completely. Grant us the spirit of unrelenting prayer as we enter the spiritual battles before us. Amen.

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