The Healing Of A Boy With A Demon


‘When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. ‘What are you arguing with them about?’ he asked.’ Mark 9:14-16

As Jesus descended the mountain, He noticed a great commotion in the valley, the crowd ran to meet Him. Notice as soon as the people saw Jesus they were overwhelmed, why?

It’s certainly possible that just like Moses when he came down from Mount Sinai his face was radiant as he reflected God’s glory. Exodus 34:35. But here the glory of God is Jesus and He’s isn’t reflecting God’s glory, He is God’s glory.

‘A man in the crowd answered, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.’ ‘You unbelieving generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.’ So, they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, how long has he been like this?’ ‘From childhood,’ he answered. ‘It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.’ Mark 9:17-22

While Jesus had been with three of the apostles on the mountain, the others had been unable to cast a demon out of a boy. Since the apostles had normally been able to cast out demons, Mark 6:13, this failure puzzled them and surprised the bystanders.

The disciples weren’t able to cast out the demon from his son because of their lack of faith. Jesus’ enemies were taking advantage of this lapse to discredit Him, we can imagine how embarrassed the disciples must have felt as they were being ridiculed.

Matthew adds an extra word here and writes, ‘You unbelieving and perverse generation.’ Matthew 17:17

It seems as though everyone was still having a hard time accepting Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. John 9:3. The father of the tormented boy asked Jesus to do something if He could, the man obviously feels hopeless and helpless.

‘If you can’? said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’ When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. ‘You deaf and mute spirit,’ he said, ‘I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.’ The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, ‘He’s dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.’ Mark 9:23-27

Everyone thought the boy was dead. The Lord turned his statement back on him, ‘If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.’ Mark 9:23

The father said that he believed but recognising the possibility that his faith wasn’t as strong as it needed to be, he begged Jesus to help his unbelief. With that, Christ commanded the unclean spirit to leave the boy, the demon cried out and threw the boy into convulsions but left. The Jews believed that no one could cast out a mute spirit unless you knew its name.

Jesus said on this occasion that all things are possible to those who believe, therefore, this healing was a test of Jesus’ divine power in contrast to the lack of power in the disciples because of their lack of faith. Jesus had total control over the world of Satan and his works and because of Jesus’ command, the demon immediately left the boy.

Unlike what some people claim today concerning casting out demons, here there were no formulas, performances, money or ceremonies in order to exorcise this demon, Jesus simply spoke, and it was done.

‘After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’ He replied, ‘This kind can come out only by prayer.’ Mark 9:28-29

‘This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.’ Mark 9:29 KJV

Later, the disciples asked why they had been unable to cast out the demon, Jesus explained that they weren’t relying on God enough, but on their own power. Perhaps their prior success in expelling demons had caused them to be self-reliant, Mark 6:13 / Mark 6:30, and they had neglected to pray in faith to God so that He would cast out the demon. John 9:31 / John 11:41.

Barnes says this concerning prayer and fasting, ‘in order to work miracles of this kind to cast out devils in cases so obstinate and dreadful as this, faith of the highest kind is necessary. That faith is produced and kept vigorous only by much prayer, and by such abstinence from food as fits the mind for the highest exercises of religion and leaves it free to hold communion with God.’

The disciples seem to be somewhat embarrassed over their inability to take care of the demon-possessed boy and notice it was the disciples’ unbelief, not the belief of the one who was healed that was questioned. They could have cast out the demon because Jesus had given them such authority. However, the qualification for being able to command the power of the supernatural demanded that they believe. Matthew 19:26 / Matthew 21:21-22 / Luke 10:1 / Luke 1:17.

‘He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’ Matthew 17:20

Faith takes time to grow, and the disciples were no different, in fact by the time Jesus leaves them to return to the Father, they would indeed do great things for God. Please note that this kind of faith is supernatural miraculous faith, 1 Corinthians 12:9, we must remember to keep these verses in their proper context.

Jesus wasn’t talking to all the disciples, but only to the twelve and so this isn’t a promise for Christians today, He was promising them, the twelve, special authority in reference to their work as His personally chosen and sent apostles.


Time and again the disciples demonstrated a lack of clear spiritual understanding, they saw Jesus multiply loaves and fishes but failed to see that He could handle another food emergency. Peter affirmed that Jesus was the Christ but thought it best to give Him some needed ‘advice.’ He believed Jesus was great, but on the same level as Moses and Elijah. The nine disciples in the valley boldly attempted to expel a demon, but without relying on the Lord. They were like those formerly blind who even now saw men like trees walking.

We all take time to grow as Christians and there are times we exercise a lack of faith, especially when we just go through the ‘routine’ of being a Christian, but when difficult times come, we quickly realise what we’ve been neglecting in our spiritual lives.

Maybe those difficult times come, to remind us to ask God to increase our faith in Him.

Have you asked God to increase your faith lately?