And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 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.” 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.” 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. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 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.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 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.” 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.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Mark 9:14-29 ESV
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. I Peter 5:8-10 ESV
When David Copperfield was a little boy, his mother married a cruel man named Mr. Murdstone. David’s stepfather did everything he could to make David miserable. He stopped David’s mother from giving him any love or comfort. He beat David often for any little thing, and he was so harsh when he taught David his lessons that the little boy couldn’t study or learn well, and then his stepfather would beat him for not doing well with his schoolwork. Later he sent David away to a school where he was also cruelly mistreated, and after David’s mother died he took him out of school and sent him to work in a factory. Mr. Murdstone seemed to hate David and to want to hurt him in any way he could.
Jesus and his disciples met a little boy who was under the cruel power of an evil spirit who also wanted to hurt him in any way he could. The Gospel of Matthew tells us that this little boy had a disorder called epilepsy, and the Gospel of Mark that we read says that this evil spirit had also made him unable to hear or speak. The demon was using these physical disorders to make life miserable for this little boy. The child would have seizures that would make him fall into fire or water, and the evil spirit often tried to destroy him that way. The father desperately wanted his son to be free from this terrible trouble, but Jesus’ disciples weren’t able to do anything about it. The father begged Jesus for help, and Jesus scolded him for not believing. The father said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Jesus had love and compassion for this man and his son, and he set the boy free from the evil spirit and told the spirit to leave him alone and to never come back. The little boy was healed completely. Jesus later explained to his disciples that in order to cast out demons they needed to put their trust in God through prayer, and not trust their own power or efforts.
We were all under the power of Satan and all the forces of evil, and Satan tried in every way to hurt us. He tried to keep us away from the love of God, our Heavenly Father, and to keep us under the power of sin and death. But Jesus had love and compassion for us, and he came to set us free from everything that was hurting us. Jesus died on the cross to defeat sin and death, and he rose again in complete victory over all the forces of evil. He sends us his Holy Spirit to bring us to him for healing, and he helps us to put our trust in him every day to keep us his own people, now and always.
Dear Jesus, thank you for setting us free from all the forces of evil. Help us to trust you forever. Amen.
Dickens, Charles David Copperfield London: Bradbury and Evans, 1850.