14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.
17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
(Mark 9:14-18 NIV)
Have you ever had an incredible spiritual experience, immediately followed by a huge failure or letdown? What was your emotional state in both of these circumstances? Did you go from rejoicing to tears? Were you so excited to feel God’s presence to wondering if He was even there?
Jesus and three of His disciples were just on top of a mountain and saw Jesus transfigured, talk to Moses and Elijah, heard the voice of the Father, and felt the Spirit’s presence in the enveloping cloud. Jesus had sworn the three to secrecy until He was raised from the dead, so they could say nothing and tell no one about their time away.
As we jump into today’s passage, we see Jesus and the three disciples rejoining the rest of the disciples. Jesus and the three find the other disciples embroiled in a dispute with the religious leaders. Mark records that the crowd was overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet Him. The crowd had no idea that Jesus had just been transfigured; Jesus had masked His glory once again, so He appeared as before. The crowd was amazed at Jesus’ timing – they were just wondering where He was, and then He walked up to the situation at hand.
Mark fills us in on the story in progress. A man had brought his son to Jesus so Jesus could cast out the demon that sought to destroy the boy. The disciples attempted to cast out the demon, but could not. The religious leaders were likely ridiculing and belittling Jesus (behind His back) and humiliating the disciples (to their face) for not being able to help this boy. Notice that they did not lift a finger to help out this father or his son; they were perfectly happy casting their insults and rebukes to discredit Jesus and his disciples.
When Jesus inquired about the dispute, notice the approach and poise He showed in doing so. Emotions were likely running over, and tension was thick. Jesus simply inquired about the nature of the argument. Before either the disciples or the religious leaders could respond, a man from the crowd spoke up. The man was the father of the boy with the demon. The man explained the situation to Jesus, as well as the current state of affairs.
We have much to learn from Jesus’ demeanor in handling this situation. He approached the tense situation calmly and asked a simple question. As we shall see, Jesus navigated the emotional minefield with wisdom and grace, showing God’s love and care for a broken world and hurting people along the way.
How do we handle life’s ups and downs? Do we deal with the big stuff like the death of a friend or family member well, but come unglued at the small stuff like a rude store clerk or getting cut off in traffic by a poor driver? Or do we brush off the little stuff well, but never fully recover from major life traumas?
Jesus had just been with the Father; He also had the weight of the world’s sins and the cross in front of Him. But He still had the focus and composure to deal with the little stuff of life like healing a demon-possessed boy and encouraging some humiliated disciples.
May we learn to depend on the Lord’s power to approach all things great or small with the same grace, mercy, and love that Jesus exhibited.