I recently read the Gospel of Mark along with Timothy Keller's King's Cross, and my eyes were opened to a fresh perspective of how Jesus walked with His disciples. He was, and still is, the ultimate example of a man and leader. The patience he extended to the twelve was God-given, and given that fact that He was God in human form, I suppose that makes sense.
Throughout the gospels we see glimpses of God's glory in the life of Jesus. (Again, not surprising.) Irenaeus once said, "The glory of God is man fully alive." And if the key to the full life in God's glory, I want to dig into as many of those Jesus glimpses as possible.
There's a passage in Mark in which a man exclaimed that he believed Jesus could save his son, and in the very same breath, the man asked Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief. I mean, really? Do you believe or not? Make up your mind, bud! My heart strings were tugged.
“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” (Mark 9:19-29 NIV)
The disciples were trying to exorcise a demon, but they were trying to do it without prayer. How often do we try to take on demons without including Jesus? How often do we give our condolences to the sick without the power of prayer? I sure do—more often than not.
"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" The father of the boy pulled a common move of mine. The classic "God I have faith, but just confirm one more time that you have this under control" maneuver. Jesus witnessed how the man acknowledged his own weakness but simultaneously acknowledged Jesus's strength. And that was enough.
Jesus could have told the man, "I am the glory of God in human form. Purify your heart, confess all your sins, get rid of all your doubts and your double-mindedness. Once you have surrendered to me totally and can come before me with a pure heart, then you can ask for the healing you need." But Jesus doesn't say that—not at all. The boy's father says, "I'm not faithful, I am riddled with doubts, and I cannot muster the strength necessary to meet my moral and spiritual challenges. But help me." (Timothy Keller, King's Cross.)
Jesus healed the boy. This is the good news. Throughout the Bible are glimpses of God's glory, the same glory that has been made available to us on this very day. I often feel like the boy's father, saying to Jesus, "I do believe, but teach my how to overcome my unbelief." Confusing to some, but perfect sense to God. He wants our hearts, and that's the bottom line. All the muck, junk, fear, worry and doubt. He wants it all, so He can help us overcome what we never could in our own strength.
Thanks to Jesus's work on the Cross, we don't need perfect righteousness, just repentant helplessness, to access the presence of God (Timothy Keller, King's Cross). How awesome is our God! There is power in Jesus Christ. There is power in brokenness. And there is power in our weakness when we put our belief, or lack thereof, in Him.