question on prayer and fasting - Mark 9:28-29

Mark 9:28-29

I read this section of the Bible today and was left puzzled. So I dug deeper with the blue letter bible app.

Passage in short: The disciples couldn’t cast out a demon from a little boy. Jesus rebukes them for their little faith. Jesus casts out the demon. They go into a house and have a private discussion. The disciples ask Jesus why they couldn’t cast out this demon as they’ve cast out demons before, in fact Jesus gave them the authority to do so in Mark 3:14-15. Jesus replies, “this kind can come out by nothing but prayer.” And in some translations they add fasting.

Jesus’s response in verse 29 is what puzzled me. Only by prayer and fasting. One, we don’t read that he prayed on the spot. He just commanded. Two, why prayer and fasting?

This is what I read when digging further,
It isn’t that prayer and fasting make us more worthy to cast out demons. It is that prayer and fasting draws closer to the heart of God, and they put us more in line with his power. They are an expression of our total dependence on him.

They (the commentators) made another point,
That authority (to cast our demons in Mark 3:14) that Jesus had given them was effective only if exercise by faith but faith must be cultivated through spiritual discipline and devotion.

Reading, praying, fasting, serving, devotion... doesn’t make us a good Christian. Doesn’t make us right with God. But it does cultivate a heart for God. You can do those things and just go through the motions, checking it off the list. Or you can go into them eagerly ready to learn more about our Savior, ready to fall in love with Him day after day.

Yes some days it will be less fruitful, but we come back the next ready to experience him all over again. Not to see how he can change us but to experience His story and what he has already done for us.

The Foreshadow of the Bronze Snake

Many times when I'm reading the New Testament, I read passages that refer back to the scriptures, the Old Testament. This happens over and over again. I used to skip over these passages and disregard, however, if the writer is putting certain pieces of scripture into the New Testament, take note.  There is great meaning that will help you further understand or challenge you deeper.  John 3:14-15 is one of those passages, it says,  

"As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life."

Context:  In John 3:14-15 Jesus is talking to Nicodemus who came in the middle of the night to find out more information on who Jesus was.  As a respected Jewish teacher, Nicodemus new the OT inside and out.  He knew all the scriptures. So Jesus makes reference to Moses and the Israelites in Numbers 21.  The Israelites have left Egypt and just had a great victory that God gave them over the Canaanites and it wasn't long before they lost their faith in God again and started complaining about God.  This isn't the first time they've complained during their Exodus but many times before it was because they were lacking in some way like water, food, etc. This time it was just a whiny complaint and it showed their unbelief in God, so God sent poisonous snakes as punishment.  The people cried out to God, God showed them mercy and instructed Moses to make a replica of the snake and attach it to the pole, lift it up and if the Israelites just look at it they will be healed.

The John 3:14-15 passage is amazing...Jesus is revealing a significant truth to Nicodemus.  The Bronze Snake (pole) foreshadows his body.  Jesus Christ himself is the fuller meaning. The Israelites were commanded to just  look to this pole to be healed of their sickness, their venomous bite. This simple act of looking to the pole showed their belief and obedience to God. Our world is full of poison, sickness and sin.  The devastation is everywhere creeping in on us, but Christ gives us the answer to overcome the worldly sickness.  He gives us himself, on a pole (wooden cross), dying to overcome it all and if we simply look to him, our hearts are healed and we are transformed.

Christ and his crucifixion and resurrection are what we need to look to each and every day to be reminded of his loving grace and mercy to save us from evil and bring us into His holy presence.  If we can always remember that, it's amazing how we can guard our hearts and mind from the world that surrounds us and focus on the mission he has before us.

Looking to the Cross...