A man brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus for healing after the attempts made by His disciples failed. Jesus says to the man, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” In response, the man cries out to Jesus in tears, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!” This man has some faith, but he trusts that Jesus will strengthen what little faith he has; which I’m sure increases while watching Jesus miraculously heal his son.
After Jesus heals the boy, the disciples ask why they couldn’t. Jesus says, “Because of your unbelief, for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” The more time we spend praying to the Lord, the more we rely upon Him to work in our lives, which strengthens our relationship with God and grows our faith.
While Jesus and His disciples were staying in Galilee, “Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.’ And they were exceedingly sorrowful.” But the disciples were not sorrowful for long because soon their attention turns back to themselves and their best interests. They begin fighting with one another over who will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. So Jesus says to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Then Jesus takes a little child and says, “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus explains that His mission is to “save that which was lost.” To illustrate His mission, Jesus tells a story of a man with a hundred sheep, but one goes astray. Jesus says that the man will leave the ninety-nine sheep to go after the one lost sheep, and if he finds it, “he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
No one is too far from God! In Charles Spurgeon’s sermon One Lost Sheep, he encourages us to go after the lost as Jesus did:
“Go after them, for so our shepherd did. He braved the mountain’s slippery side. I do not suppose the shepherd had any greater love for mountain tracks than you have, but up the rough tracks He climbed, for the sheep’s sake. Go after sinners into their poverty and wretchedness, until you find them.
“Here is one thing to cheer you. If you should win such a soul as that, you will have more joy, a great deal, than in saving those for whom you regularly labor—more joy over that lost one than over the ninety and nine hopeful ones. It will be such a support to your faith, such a boost for your joy, such a bright light to your labor to have won such a specially guilty one. I should not wonder but what you will talk about it for many a day, and it will be a source of strength to you when things are not quite as you would desire. Such converts are our crown of rejoicing. May I especially recommend that you make a trial of this extra sheep-seeking? If you do not succeed, you will have done no harm, for you will have copied your Lord and Master. But you will succeed, for He is with you, and His Spirit works by you.”
We end the reading with Jesus instructing us to go to a brother or sister in Christ and reconcile with them if we have been offended. He also says we should offer unlimited forgiveness to one another – “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” And later Jesus’ brother James will write, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).
More teaching from Jesus tomorrow, so keep reading. (Mark 9:14-29, Matthew 17:14-21, Luke 9:37-43a, Mark 9:30-32, Matthew 17:22-23, Luke 9:43b-45, Matthew 17:24-27, Mark 9:33-37, Matthew 18:1-6, Luke 9:46-48, Mark 9:38-41, Luke 9:49-50, Mark 9:42-50, Matthew 18:7-35)