Do you ever feel like something “other” than yourself has taken everything from within you? Do you know what it means to feel hollow, empty, or depleted?
My message this past Sunday, which is the second in the Parenthood series, responds to the story of a young boy with an unclean spirit, whom Jesus heals. The message seeks to reinforce the teaching of the first message and the main objective of the series.
The full story of the healing of this boy is fascinating; and, a full account can be found in Mark 9:24-29.
Here is the foundation of the story:
- An unclean spirit has controlled the boy since his childhood.
- This spirit has sought to destroy the boy by casting him into fire and water.
- Jesus heals the boy after the father pleads with Jesus and convey his faith.
There are many important details sprinkled throughout this story. My interest today – and, this is why I have drastically oversimplified the synopsis of the story – is the response of the people, who are gathered around the boy.
We read the following occurred: “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.'” (Mark 9:26)
The boy lay motionless on the ground. The spirit had effectively destroyed the boy from the inside out. The boy is only a shell of his former self; and, only a mere resemblance of the potential he once possessed remains. And, the bystanders regard him as dead.
Jesus makes a remark earlier in the account. When he learns the disciples were not able to care for the needs of this boy, Jesus asserts, “You faithless generation!” (Mark 9:19)
These bystanders must represent the faithlessness of the generation. Jesus has just liberated a boy of an unclean spirit, which has sought the destruction of life, and these same bystanders are too quick to doubt the ability of Jesus to restore life to the lifeless.
It is a terrible thing, but many people know this hollowing effect. Their experience is similar to this boy. Something “other” has taken control of them and sought their destruction. And, they feel hollow, empty, and depleted.
I have encountered young women who feel this way because of issues with body image. I have encounter young men who feel this way because of substance abuse. I have encountered young people (and adults, for that matter) who feel this way because of one form of mental illness or another.
The list is exhaustive; and, perhaps you could add to it! But, the effect is the same: something “other” is staging destruction from the inside out and good people are left feeling hollow, empty, and depleted as they wonder how there potential for life abundant was so quickly taken from them!
We must never be like those bystanders, who fail to believe in the possibility for Jesus to restore life to the lifeless. We must hold firmly to the truth that life abundant is made known in Jesus.
The boy lies motionless on the ground. The bystanders see him as dead. But, Jesus…
But, Jesus reaches down. Jesus took him by the hand. Jesus picked him up. Supported by Jesus, we learn, “[the boy] was able to stand!” (Mark 9:27)
Jesus did not see a boy as good as dead. Jesus did not see his hollowness as worthlessness. Jesus saw the potential of the boy to know life abundant. Jesus saw a boy, who only needed the support of Jesus so that he could raise back up to life, to stand once more, and to walk again in a newness of life.
The same is true for any and all of us. Being hollowed, emptied, or depleted does not mean we are not capable of possessing life. It simply means we are prepared to be filled with the substance of life! We are in proper position to take hold of the hand of Jesus, reaching toward us, calling for us to rise up and stand once more!