If You Can

www.bible.com/1713/mrk.9.21-23.csb

I’m wondering what Jesus is questioning here. Youversion only had the last verse in their “verse of the day” so I went back and included the preceding two verses to give you come context. From this context, the phrase “If you can” precedes “do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus’ response “Everything is possible for the one who believes” seems to answer “if you can do anything.” “If you can” sounds like an expression of positive doubt, meaning that the mean is hopeful, but not certain that Jesus will actually be able to do anything to help his son. But bringing his son to Jesus is an expression of faith. Why bring your son if you don’t think Jesus can help?

Jesus’ response seems one of surprise, as if surprised at one who would come such a long way with his demon-possessed son would suddenly doubt the healing power in Jesus.

I wonder then if the man, rather than doubting Jesus’ healing power, instead doubted Jesus compassion. If you have ever had a child with a prolonged illness, sure people are compassionate, at first. If your child acts out or make strange noises in public, then people start to avoid you, or complain to the manager about you because your child is disrupting their meal. People give you strange looks, like, “I can’t believe you brought that thing here. What kind of parent are you?” I can imagine this wearied father had tried to bring his child to a synagogue or to healers before, only to be rebuffed and told to take that “thing” home. They were not welcome. I have no doubt many times this father chastised himself, asking God why He would burden him with such a child? Maybe even sometimes wishing the child had died, and then feeling guilt, profound guilt at such thoughts. The man brings the child to Jesus, halfway hoping that the stories he had heard were true, that this Jesus is compassionate, helpful, and able to rid his son.

I see these same parents the Emergency Room, sitting by their children who’ve had another overdose. I see the agony in their faces, wondering if this time, THIS TIME, their child will discover the error of their ways. The know people talk about them. They know some medical staff even despise them. “Why do you keep caring? They deserve that they get!” Yet they keep praying, “Dear God, please let this time be the last time. Let me have my child back!” If you’ve ever had a child caught in the destructive pattern of sin and addiction, you know all about this.

And can you imagine the man’s joy when his son is freed?

Dear Father, I know sometimes I question why certain things happen to me. I question Your Divine Wisdom, but my sense of what ought to be is always bested by Yours. You know what is best. You knew that this father would have to go through all kinds of ignominy before he met Jesus, and I know that after his son was freed, he experienced profound joy. Father my prayer is for all the fathers and mothers whose children are in bondage, who have tried everything to free them (from addictions, sinful behaviors, all those things that tear families apart). I know that this agony is for a time, and You have better things planned. Please Father free these children from their bondage, help them open their eyes and see their parents again, just like that boy before Jesus. I pray this in the name of Jesus, Amen!