We can learn a lot about implications.
The dictionary defines the word implication as, “the conclusion that can be drawn from something although it is not explicitly stated” or, “the action or state of being involved in something.”
As we are having more time at home and having fewer social gatherings then some of us have ever had in our life, we are hopefully having more time to read God's Word and meditate on it. One of the important tools of Bible study is the power and awareness of implications. Thinking through what is being said by the passage you're reading not just explicitly but implicitly.
So much can be learned by simply asking questions to yourself as you read. Think with me over a particular section of Scripture, Mark 9:14-29. Here we have Jesus healing a boy with an unclean spirit. It’s a well-known portion of Scripture and as we read through it, we see both what is explicitly stated and a lot of implications, or conclusions to be drawn.
Jesus is coming down from the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James and John. He meets His other disciples and they have been engaged in an argument with a crowd because they have just tried to cast out a demon but were unsuccessful. The father begs Jesus to heal his son who has a spirit that has tormented the boy from childhood. Jesus commands this demon to come out and never enter the son again. As the story ends, we see the disciples asking Jesus, “Why couldn’t we cast this demon out?” To which Jesus responds, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
Those are the facts. And we can learn much through those facts. We learn Jesus is a listening, compassionate and kind healer. We see that Jesus has sovereign power over not just the natural world but also the supernatural. We see Jesus not wanting to attract unnecessary crowds and to draw unnecessary attention to Himself. And we see Jesus always willing to go out of his way to care for those who ask. Wonderful lessons in themselves.
But just as we can learn from the explicit facts of a story, let's examined some things that we can learn through what is implied. The first thing, is thinking through why are the disciples arguing with the crowd? Jesus comes down from the mountain and here the rest of the disciples have been trying to do what they thought they should be doing. But because they can't do what they think they should be doing they no doubt are embarrassed and then engage the crowd who could very well have been accusing them of not being genuine disciples or frauds. This becomes more than just conjecture because in verse 16 Jesus asks them, “What are you arguing about with them?” And then immediately someone from the crowd answers verse 17, “Teacher, I brought my son to you for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” So clearly implied the disciples thought they could act on behalf of Jesus. “Well, Jesus isn’t here but hey we can handle this.” They couldn’t and the crowd engages in some form of argument as to why they were not able to do it. Just through this implication don’t we see that this is so often what we do? Instead of confessing our inability and weaknesses and need to wait for Jesus, we engage in arguments which very well imply a form of our bravado. Isn't it true that oftentimes when we don't know the facts we will posture and even speak more emotionally? Thinking that if we can be more impassioned then we can be more convincing? Certainly we feel the disciples’ frustration. And how interesting Jesus immediately says, “Oh faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.”
Verse 20 is amazing when it comes to implications. We know a demon has possessed the boy and it just so happens to say, “And when the spirit saw Jesus,” immediately it convulsed the boy and he fell to the ground rolled about foaming in the mouth. Well that was a fact that's explicitly given but what's implied is that demons can use a physical body to see the physical world. It also implies that a demon can present the symptoms of physical distortion and disease. That would be worth a study.
A second thing we see through implication is the humility of the father. Jesus asked the father in verse 21, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said from childhood, implied, this is an older son or an older child. Could very well being a teenager maybe early 20’s. And it has often cast him into the fire and into water to destroy him. Well again, that's explicit but what's implied is that when a demon possesses an individual it’s ultimate desire is to kill that person. At least in this case it sure did, which means that a demon possessed person could literally be physically harmed by a demon inside that person. The father asks Jesus for compassion and to help them, but he asks it in a form of not sure if Jesus can actually help. Jesus almost marvels at this, He says, “If I can?!” Jesus responds by saying all things are possible for the one who believes. As always, Jesus takes a physical situation and turns it to spiritual. The father immediately gets the point and cries out, “I believe, help my unbelief!” What's implied is this father immediately shows humility and does what evidently the disciples had not done and that is, confess his weakness and inability to do this on his own. Jesus help my unbelief.
Jesus then immediately rebuked the unclean spirit and said, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” That's explicit. What's implied is multiple things, first, since Jesus commanded him to never enter him again that tells me that demons can reenter into a person once they've been cast out. Second, Jesus specifically does this and He normally doesn't do this at least as revealed in the gospels. Perhaps He specifically commands this demon never to enter him again because the father had cried out, “show us compassion.” And would not this be an incredibly compassionate thing for our Lord to do? A third thing that's implied, Jesus calls this demon a mute and deaf spirit implying a demon can cause someone to not speak and to not hear. Implying, not all physical ailments are just physical.
As Jesus lifts this boy off the ground and restores life into him, the disciples and Jesus entered the house. We don't know who's house we could certainly read into this perhaps it was the father's house who had the son who was demon possessed. That could certainly be implied, and wouldn’t that have been an act of compassion as well? We know that the disciples pull Jesus aside and ask him privately, “Why couldn't we do this?” And Jesus responds this kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer. That's explicit. But what's implied by Jesus’ response is that there are various kinds of demons and they're not all equally powerful. Some are more powerful than others. Which implies something else about prayer! Prayer is not a minor weapon! It is of our most powerful. There is divine power in prayer! If we miss everything in this story, let us not miss this! There is power in prayer even to the casting out of a powerful demon.
This was certainly a long way around speaking about prayer, but I hope it encourages you nonetheless. Today we need to be in prayer more than ever. Let’s use our time wisely as we have more time to quiet ourselves and unite together in the power of prayer.