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Tragedy and Triumph | A Study in 2 Samuel | A silver crown and a sword Tragedy and Triumph | A Study in 2 Samuel | A silver crown and a sword

Questions and Answers | Tragedy and Triumph

In Mark 9, why weren't the disciples able to heal the demon possessed boy? Why did they still need Jesus’ intervention?

Peter, James, and John have been with Jesus on the mountain and seen Him “transfigured before them” (v. 2). They have heard God say, “This is my Son whom I love” (v. 7). As these disciples descend the mountain with Christ, they find the other nine in a dilemma: A large crowd surrounds a demon-possessed boy and his father, and the nine are unable upon the father’s request to “drive out the spirit” (v. 18). Christ had given them the authority to cast out demons (Mark 6:7, 13). These were men who had walked and talked with Christ on a daily basis. But something was amiss. Clearly dismayed, Jesus says, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me” (v. 19).

This is, as one commentator puts it, “a cry wrung from the heart of Jesus. He staked His life on the redemption of the world, only to find His nearest followers, His chosen men, beaten and baffled, helpless, and ineffective.” After Jesus delivers the boy from the demon, the disciples ask Him why they couldn’t do it. Note Jesus’ answer: He says that they could only do it “by prayer” (v. 29).

Christ’s words tell us a great deal. Faith must be maintained by prayer if it is to overcome the enemy. One cannot become careless in his or her walk with God. The disciples simply could not do the work of the Lord unless they were constantly dependent upon Him. In effect, Christ was saying to them, “You don’t live close enough to God.” They had been given power, but they needed prayer to maintain it. Unless we also stay close to God, we lose our vitality and the humility of dependence.

BY Dr. Rosalie de Rosset

Dr. Rosalie de Rosset has been teaching at Moody Bible Institute in the Communications Department for over five decades. She is occasionally featured on Moody Radio. Rosalie is a published author, respected speaker, and talented writer. She lives on the northside of Chicago, a city she enjoys for its natural beauty and multi-faceted art offerings.

I heard a message that talked about certain biblical characters as models for us. Are we really supposed to look up to human models? It seems to me that the only person we should look up to is Jesus. To do otherwise seems human-centered.

A good role model is a person who shows us how to live, choose well, face suffering (in some cases), and act wisely in this complicated and difficult world. It is true that we sometimes choose role models for the wrong reasons: celebrity, beauty, athletic prowess, or financial success. But I would imagine that most of us do have human role models. When I was younger, I looked up to my teachers. Now I respect people who are committed to the hard demands of faith, who have humility and the ability to live life simply, obediently, and without being infected by the culture. Their examples push me to re-examine my own worries, my patterns, and my choices.

Obviously, Christ is our greatest role model, but Scripture recognizes the influence that people around us, godly role models, can have on us. Proverbs 1:8 speaks of parents as role models: “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” In the New Testament, women are instructed to live in such a way that they can train the younger women (Titus 2:3); young men are urged to be “self-controlled” in order to be “an example by doing what is good” (Titus 2:6). Luke 6:40 talks about the role of teachers and their importance for spiritual formation of their students.

Paul encouraged the Philippians to follow his example as he followed Christ (Phil. 3:17–21). From a Roman jail, he commended Timothy as an example: “He has served with me in the work of the gospel” (Phil. 2:22). About Epaphroditus who had fallen ill and was sent back to Philippi, Paul writes, “Honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ” (Phil. 2:29). In Romans 16:1–2, Paul asked that Phoebe be given “any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.”

God, in His great grace and understanding, commanded Christians to live in community. Because He gave us His Son as the greatest model to look up to, we can better choose earthly mentors and become a godly role model for others.

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