(I) I have been mulling over Mark 9:23 for a while and I still do not get it. Here it is:
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
~ It almost sounds like Jesus has given a blank check to write anything in it. But He has not.
~ Additionally on the surface it seems as though belief is what makes something possible. That is that all you need to do is believe and thats good enough. Its all reducible to belief.
Nien. Nyet. Not.
No. Not quite.
~ Jesus is not and would not be saying that you can believe anything and thus get it. You cannot just believe that Germany lost the World Cup. There are very many things you cannot believe.
No. There is something else going on with what Jesus said. Something more I think. That is you need to believe what is in line with the will of God.
Therein lies the problem . . . what is the will of God?
Lets first backtrack slightly and look at the context of “If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Context: And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 “It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!”
What would the will of God have been? Well up to this point – Jesus has been healing numerous people, feeding many thousands, exorcising demons, raising the dead, and such… so it would be reasonable to infer that this all was the will of God. This all was part of Jesus’ mission, so the father had no need to doubt.
~ If my thinking is true… here is the problem FOR US … It is not always easy knowing what God’s will is. (In fact we may not even like it to know it sometimes.) And if God’s will shapes what we are to believe, then how can we know what to believe if we do not first know what His will is?
(II) Something else… aside
~ There is something else: Sometimes our knowledge of God’s will is sooooo deficient that we do not even know what to ask for because the thing to ask for does not even arise in our imagination as a possibility. What I mean is this. Before the feeding of the 5,000+ people incident (in Luke 9:13), Jesus tells His disciples:
He replied, “You give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish–unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.”
~ At no point in the disciples wildest imagination does the following thought occur to them:
“Hmmm… There are a lot of hungry people and we need food. Hmmm… Hey… Why don’t we just pray and multiply what little bread and fishes that we have for the 5,000+ people here! Ok. Problem solved! Just multiply everything.”
That thought never gets baked. In fact the ingredients for it are not even in the kitchen. … speaking of feeding… and here is where it gets a bit jarring(!):
“You do not have because you do not ask God.” ~ James 4:3
~ I have to be honest. If I were there with the disciples, then even in my wildest imagination, I would never think of the possibility of multiplying the fish and loaves for 5,000+ peeps. As a result I would not ask.
So would I not get? As per James.