About six months before His Crucifixion, Jesus was transfigured (seen in His glorified state) while He and Peter, James, and John were on a mountain. He then taught these disciples that John the Baptist was an Elias, or a prophet who prepares the way for the Messiah. After Jesus returned to His other disciples, a man pleaded with Jesus to cast an evil spirit out of his son. Jesus cast out the evil spirit and taught His disciples about the need for prayer and fasting.
See how many push-ups or sit-ups you can do in one minute. Record your results here: ____________________
Why would someone want or need to increase his or her physical strength?
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How might physical strength be likened to spiritual strength, or faith in Jesus Christ?
What are some situations in which you might need to strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ?
As you study Mark 9:1–29, look for truths that can help you strengthen your faith.
Mark 9:1–13 contains an account of Jesus’s transfiguration in the presence of Peter, James, and John on a mountain and the appearance there of Moses and Elias (Elijah), which you learned about during your lesson on Matthew 17. Jesus also taught these Apostles that John the Baptist fulfilled the prophesied role of an Elias. “Elias” is a title for those who prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.
“And he answered and told them, saying, Elias verily cometh first, and prepareth all things; and teacheth you of the prophets; how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought.
“Again I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, but they have done unto him whatsoever they listed; and even as it is written of him; and he bore record of me, and they received him not. Verily this was Elias” (Joseph Smith Translation, Mark 9:10–11 [in Mark 9:12, footnote a; Mark 9:13, footnote b]).
Who is Elias? Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained the role of Elias in the Restoration:
“There are three different revelations which name Elias as being three different persons. What are we to conclude?
“… Many angelic ministrants have been sent from the courts of glory to confer keys and powers, to commit their dispensations and glories again to men on earth. At least the following have come: Moroni, John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John, Moses, Elijah, Elias, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael. (D&C 13; 110; 128:19–21.) Since it is apparent that no one messenger has carried the whole burden of the restoration, but rather that each has come with a specific endowment from on high, it becomes clear that Elias is a composite personage. The expression must be understood to be a name and a title for those whose mission it was to commit keys and powers to men in this final dispensation [see Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. (1954–56), 1:170–74]” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 221).
Read Mark 9:14–18, looking for what was happening when the Savior returned from the mountain to His other disciples.
The man’s son was possessed by an evil spirit, which caused speech loss, deafness, and other problems (see Mark 9:17–18, 22, 25). Imagine being this father. How might your faith in the Savior and His power have been affected when His disciples could not heal your son?
Read Mark 9:19–22, imagining how this father may have felt as he spoke with the Savior.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles provided additional perspective on this father’s feelings and pleas: “With no other hope remaining, this father asserts what faith he has and pleads with the Savior of the world, ‘If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us’ [Mark 9:22; italics added]. I can hardly read those words without weeping. The plural pronoun us is obviously used intentionally. This man is saying, in effect, ‘Our whole family is pleading. Our struggle never ceases. We are exhausted. Our son falls into the water. He falls into the fire. He is continually in danger, and we are continually afraid. We don’t know where else to turn. Can you help us? We will be grateful for anything—a partial blessing, a glimmer of hope, some small lifting of the burden carried by this boy’s mother every day of her life’” (“Lord, I Believe,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 93).
Read Mark 9:23, looking for what the Savior taught the father.
You may want to mark the phrases in verse 23 that teach the following principle: If we believe in Jesus Christ, all things will be possible to us. (Note that “all things” pertains to all righteous blessings that are in accordance with Heavenly Father’s purposes and timing.)
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How can believing this principle help someone who faces difficulties that seem impossible to overcome?
Read Mark 9:24, looking for the father’s response to the principle the Savior taught. Note the two parts of the father’s response.
Read the following statement by Elder Holland, who taught what the father’s declaration teaches about what we can do in times of “unbelief,” or times of doubt or fear: “When facing the challenge of faith, the father asserts his strength first and only then acknowledges his limitation. His initial declaration is affirmative and without hesitation: ‘Lord, I believe.’ I would say to all who wish for more faith, remember this man! In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. In the growth we all have to experience in mortality, the spiritual equivalent of this boy’s affliction or this parent’s desperation is going to come to all of us. When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes” (“Lord, I Believe,” 93–94).
Consider the second part of the father’s response: “Help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Ponder what you can do in times of unbelief, doubt, or fear.
Read Mark 9:25–27, looking for what the Savior did in response to the father’s pleas.
One principle we can learn from this account is that if we hold on to what we believe and seek the Lord’s assistance, He will help us strengthen our faith.
Answer one or both of the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Refer to the situations you listed in assignment 1 of today’s lesson. How can this principle be used in those situations?
When have you, or someone you know, received the Lord’s help in a time of unbelief, doubt, or fear by holding on to belief and seeking Him?
Strive to apply this principle during times of unbelief, doubt, or fear you face. You can also share the principle with a family member or friend who might be experiencing challenges.
Remember that this father initially brought his son to some of Jesus’s disciples to be healed. Imagine that you are one of these disciples. What might you have thought or felt after failing to cast the evil spirit out of the boy?
Read Mark 9:28, looking for the question the disciples asked Jesus.
In Mark 9:19 Jesus described the people as a “faithless generation.” This rebuke may have also been directed toward His disciples who were present. The word faithless here refers to a lack of faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ is needed for priesthood blessings to be effective.
Read Mark 9:29, looking for the Savior’s response to His disciples’ question.
From this verse we learn that we can increase our faith in Jesus Christ through prayer and fasting. Consider writing this principle in your scriptures next to verse 29.
The following statement helps us understand different situations in which this truth could apply: “This account [of Jesus casting out an evil spirit from a man’s son] teaches that prayer and fasting can give added strength to those giving and receiving priesthood blessings. The account can also be applied to your personal efforts to live the gospel. If you have a weakness or sin that you have struggled to overcome, you may need to fast and pray in order to receive the help or forgiveness you desire. Like the demon that Christ cast out, your difficulty may be the kind that will go out only through prayer and fasting” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 67).
In your scripture study journal, write about an experience when you or someone you know experienced increased faith through prayer and fasting. In what ways have prayer and fasting helped you receive the righteous blessings you sought?
Consider how your faith may need strengthening. Plan a time when you can seek to increase your faith through prayer and fasting. You may want to write your plans on a separate piece of paper and place it where it can remind you of your goal.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Mark 9:1–29 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: