Mark 9:14-29: Better Is Not Enough
14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
The only thing I heard in my heart this week: “Better is not enough.”
Jesus went around making the world better, and it was not enough. He healed. He fed. He drove out demons. The world was better for it.
But that wasn’t enough. It didn’t matter if he healed, did miracles, if His people had no way to believe in him, if they had no way to depend on him.
Maybe it didn’t matter if the world was a better place if the human heart was still such a hopeless thing, if it only knew how to depend on itself. If you read the Gospel of Mark, it is clear, it was the human heart that filled him with such awe and grief and wonder.
“O Faithless Generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?”
He will have to bear more than our pain and or sorrows. He will have to bear our faithlessness. He will have to bear our hardness of heart.
I believed nothing caused Christ more agony than not being believed.
I see it in the people I’m with on the street. The hardest thing is not be believed. For your word to not count. To not be believed is to not be received, to not be welcome. Jesus mentions often that people cannot bear his word, that they will not receive his word. We see here, the power this Word of the Cross: in order to be heard, Christ will have to bear the agony of our unbelief.
“I believe,” says the man. “Help my unbelief.”
And we see Christ’s answer to that man in the man called Thomas. He shows his scars, the scars he keeps. The scars kept in heaven. He still bears the agony of our unbelief in the scars kept in heaven.
With those scars, he claims the burial of our unbelief. The burial of all our hardness of heart. The Worst Has Happened, Everything Is Wrong. The human heart is hopeless. But it is too late. Christ has still given Himself. Mercy has been offered. To receive Mercy is not to be better or worse, but to be transfigured. And when we have Christ, we will not have the hardness of our own heart.