Red Letter Year: 2/5

Mark 9:14-29

14 When they returned to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd surrounding them, and some teachers of religious law were arguing with them. 15 When the crowd saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet him.

16 “What is all this arguing about?” Jesus asked.

17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”

19 Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.

21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.

He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”

23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

25 When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” he said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!”

26 Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.

28 Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?”

29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”


What the father says here resonates with me as much as anything in the Bible: “Lord I believe. Help my unbelief!” I know exactly how he feels. The first sentence comes out as a gut reaction, expressing both what I think at the deepest level of me, what I hope to be true of me, and what I think is expected of me. But even as it is coming out of my mouth, I know it is not fully true, not nearly the whole story, indicating nothing of the inner struggle, the war within my own self. The second sentence comes blurting out, almost on top of the first, confessing the war, revealing what I fear to be true of me, admitting to what lies almost as deep within me. Almost. But not quite. Or so I hope. Who wins the war? My hope? My fear? Which is stronger in this internal, interminable civil war? Left alone, I am afraid my doubt would scorch like Sherman across my soul, ravaging its way to dark victory. But I am not left alone. My confession is at the same time a cry for help. To the one who feeds thousands, calms storms, and delivers this man’s son. And so I pray. I always pray. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Red Letter Year: 2/1

Mark 8:22-38

22 When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. 23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?”

No I don’t think this is biblical evidence of Ents.

24 The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.”

25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly.26 Jesus sent him away, saying, “Don’t go back into the village on your way home.”

27 Jesus and his disciples left Galilee and went up to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

28 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets.”

29 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.”

30 But Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

31 Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. 32 As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things.

33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”


I have been praying for people to be healed for years, but only recently have I adopted a method similar to what Jesus uses here with the blind man. No, not the spitting part (though don’t sit in front when I’m preaching or lecturing, sometimes I get excited). The part where Jesus simply and quickly prays (it actually only says he lays hands on the man here, prayer itself is implied, not stated), then asks if the prayer has worked. When the man says partially, Jesus does it again. Robbie Dawkins uses this approach regularly with a lot of success, so we’ve been doing it too. It feels very in keeping with our Vineyard approach, where praying for healing is normal and something to be treated as such. We are also finding that a lot of times the second (or third) round of praying is when healing occurs. Amy, the girls, and I prayed for a friend like this yesterday in a parking lot and he felt some tingling in the spot that needed healing. We’ll see if there are long term results. If you aren’t used to praying like this, give it a try. It worked for Jesus, so why not us?

I think this goes well with the main point of today’s reading, Jesus’ encouragement there at the end to follow his example, to live for others and for the Gospel, to give up claim to one’s life, to be – what’s the opposite of ashamed? To be bold, defiant, immodest, not sorry, shameless, un-regretful, un-remorseful, unselfconscious of Jesus and his message (all those courtesy of thesaurus com).  Hear in today’s red letters a call to live like that. Because that is how Jesus lived and how he calls his followers to live.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.