“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”
While Jesus was on the mountain with John, James, and Peter for the Transfiguration, a man brought his son to Him. The son was desperately ill, and the father had heard of the healings that Jesus had performed. Jesus’ other disciples were unable to help. So, when Jesus came down from the mountain, the father brought his son to Him. He needed Jesus to intervene.
The man’s son was possessed by an evil spirit. “How long has this been the case with him?”, Jesus asked the father. He told Jesus that he had been that way since he was a child. He also told Him that the spirit often threw his son into the water or into the fire to destroy him. Upon seeing Jesus, the spirit convulsed the boy, and he lay on the ground wallowing and foaming. After explaining the situation, and perhaps out of increasing desperation, the father said, “If you thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us.”
In spite of the father’s desperate plea, and the suffering boy at His feet, Jesus seemed to be unhurried. He had a different focus. He spoke of the most important issue; “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” The boy’s father responded as recorded in the verse above. Then, Jesus commanded the evil spirit to leave the boy, and to never come back. As it left the boy, the spirit screamed and convulsed him again, after which the boy lay still. He was so still that those around said he had died. Then, Jesus took the boy by the hand, lifted him up, and presented him to his father whole.
Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. This is the quality for which God is looking in every person. Having faith, or believing, is not simply mental assent. It is a heart response to what God has said. It is trust in Him. It is taking action based on what He has said.
Faith has come to mean that which people believe. It may be doctrines of their church or things they have concluded for themselves. The variety of beliefs is wide including belief in multiple gods, or none at all. But, God is not as interested in what we believe as much as we want to think. What He wants is us to believe in what He says is true in His Word, the Bible. In that context, faith is trust in God. Jesus told His disciples in Luke 12:4, 5 “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.” This is faith.
Faith is trust in Him. Is He God? Can He do mighty things? Did He create all things in heaven and on the earth? Does He hold together everything that we can see, as well as everything we cannot? Does He know everything? Is He everywhere present? Does He possess all power and might? Is Jesus Christ God? Are we sinners in need of God’s help to gain Heaven? Are our works inadequate to get us to Heaven? Must we rely only on Jesus for eternal life?
These questions are all addressed in God’s Word. According to the Bible, the answer to each of them is, Yes. Many verses can be found that teach these facts about God, Jesus, and our eternal destiny. Do we believe it? Do we believe God when He says these things are true? Are we willing to come only to Him for forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, believing that we remain under God’s wrath if we don’t? Are we willing to set aside our own efforts to gain heaven and trust only in Jesus? Do we believe God’s Word? It tells us all of these things. That is faith that pleases God.
In the case above, the father believed that Jesus could heal his son. And, He knew that Jesus was God. But, the sad state of his son loomed large. He feared that some lack on his part could stand in the way of his son being healed. “Help thou my unbelief!” He walked away with his son healthy, and the assurance that these attacks would not come on him again.
Look how accommodating Jesus was to this man in his need! He raised the issue of belief, and then healed his son from his afflictions. There were no stern words. Only a gentle leading to a fuller understanding of faith. In this way, Jesus deals with all who trust in Him.
My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device or creed;
I trust the ever living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.
I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.
Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I come to Him,
He’ll never cast me out.
My heart is leaning on the Word,
The living Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior’s name,
Salvation through His blood.
My great physician heals the sick,
The lost He came to save;
For me His precious blood He shed,
For me His life He gave.
Refrain (Eliza E. Hewitt)