The Sermon Notes of Harold Buls

The Sermon Notes of Harold Buls

On the Gospel Lessons of the Ingrian Lutheran Church of Russia

Text from Mark 9:14-29

First Sunday before Lent

1. This text is paralleled at Mt. 17:14-20 and Lk. 9:37-43. Please read all of these passages. The time is about six months before Jesus' suffering and death. He had predicted His suffering and death once. His second prediction follows the occasion of our text.

2. Jesus had just returned from the Mt. of Transfiguration with Peter, James and John. The other nine disciples were waiting. When Jesus and the three join the nine, some scribes (probably from Jerusalem) were arguing with the disciples. A man had brought his devil-possessed son to the nine for help but they could not cure him.

3. This instance of devil-possession was very severe. Since childhood this only son had been plagued by the devil. See vss. 18, 20, 22, 26. It was a terrible situation.

4. Jesus had given His disciples authority over the unclean spirits. Mk. 6:7. They used this authority to cast out many demons. Mk. 6:13. (After His resurrection, when the disciples were commissioned as missionaries, Jesus did not give them this authority). But on this occasion when the man brought his son to the disciples, they could not cure him. Evidently the disciples were embarrassed in the presence of the scribes.

5. Vs. 19 gives us Jesus' very severe indictment of the people of His day. He says: "O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?" The greatest problem which Jesus faced was that they would not believe Him. They would not believe that He was the Son of God. They would not believe that He was the Messiah. In Jn. 9, when Jesus healed the blind man, though the Jewish authorities had the evidence, they would not believe. Likewise when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Jn. 11. Read Jesus' severe indictment at Jn. 12:37-40. Or His lament over Jerusalem. Mt. 23:37- 39. Sinners can be helped. But stubborn unbelievers cannot be helped.

6. Even the disciples lacked faith. See vss. 28 and 29. Vs. 29 should read: "This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer." Some manuscripts add: "and fasting." But scholars have determined, from better manuscripts, that the words "and fasting" should not be read here. (They have also learned that Mt. 17:21 is not in the best manuscripts). What does Jesus mean; "This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer"? Prayer is based solely on the promises of God. The basis of prayer is faith in the promises of God. Faith is a gift of the God. See Eph. 2:8. Luther says in his explanation to the third article of the Apostles' Creed: "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him. But the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith." Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Rom. 10:17. The disciples failed to do what Jesus commanded because they lacked faith. That's what Jesus means.

7. Also the father of this devil-possessed boy was weak in faith. See 22 and 23. Jesus gently criticizes the man. Vs. 23. Then the man cries: "I do believe; help my unbelief." Very likely millions of Christians have prayed this prayer. And the Lord always answers the person who prays like this man did.

8. Jesus was severe with the people of His day because of their unbelief. He even criticized His disciples when He frankly told them that they had littleness of faith (Mt. 17:20) but He promised them that if they would have faith as a mustard faith (small but genuine) they could move mountains, that is, they could do things which, with people, are impossible. But the only one in our text who received help was the father of the possessed boy. Even his faith wavered but he did believe. He is very likely a picture of many Lutherans who fit the description of James 1:6-8. Their faith is like the waves of the sea, rising and falling, unsteady.

9. Our prayer today: "Lord I believe. Help my unbelief." Sinners won't be lost but unbelievers will be lost. See Mk. 16:16.

The Sermon Outline of Harold Buls

On the Gospel Lessons of the Ingrian Lutheran Church of Russia

Text from Mark 9:14-29

First Sunday before Lent

THEME: Lord I Believe. Help My Unbelief.


Our text is a picture of mankind. Some are like the scribes who just want to argue with Christians. They are an unbelieving generation of people who don't really want Jesus and His promises. Then there are people, like the disciples, who have received the gifts of God but who do not use them because of the littleness of their faith. And then there are people like the father of this sick boy who cry: "Lord I do believe. Please help my unbelief."




This text was converted to ascii format for Project Wittenberg by Cindy A. Beesley and is in the public domain. You may freely distribute, copy or print this text. Please direct any comments or suggestions to: Rev. Robert E. Smith of the Walther Library at Concordia Theological Seminary.

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