When Demons Outplay Disciples

The disciples had been empowered by Jesus and authorised to exercise power over demons. However on one occasion they failed.


  • Introduction

    Satan’s Pillaging

    .. Disrupts peace

    .. Destroys lives

    .. Renders God’s people powerless

    Disciples’ Powerlessness

    .. Failure to acknowledge failure to Jesus

    Christ’s Patience

    Christ’s Power

Bible Passage

Bible Passages: Matt 17.14-18; Mark 9.14-29; Luke 9.37-43a;

Mark 9:14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.

16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.

17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech.

Bible Passage

Mark 9:18 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.”19 “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.”

20 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.

Bible Passage

Mark 9:21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “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.”

23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Bible Passage

Mark 9:25 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.”

26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

Bible Passage

Luke 9:37 The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. 38 A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. 40 I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.”

41 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.”

42 Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the impure spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father.

Luke 9:43 And they were all amazed at the greatness of God

Satan – disrupts peace

The joy of having his only son was disrupted when the evil spirit entered him.

Peace of mind, peace at home, peace in society – all went awry

He was helpless.

Satan destroys lives

In this case it is obvious. In most cases, it is not. He endows wealth and fame but destroys happiness, creating emptiness and meaninglessness in lives

Many famous people have expressed this discontent.

The famous “beautiful, wrinkle free life” is usually marred by spiritual destruction.

Satan Renders God’s people powerless

In spite of tasting authority over sickness, demons and death, the disciples failed in this case.

In spite of being with Jesus their faith was still very weak.

We too should never take our relationship with Christ for granted. We may think we are doing a lot but may be powerless in God’s sight

The Disciples’ Powerlessness

Matthew 17:17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

20 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.”

Why were the disciples Powerless?

In Luke 9:1 Jesus gives the disciples power over “all” demons when he commissions them to go out in twos house to house, town to town.

So it’s not the “kind” of demon we need to be worried about.

Luke 9:1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

Why were the disciples Powerless?

Even when Jesus sent out the 72, they were exultant that even the demons submitted in Christ’s name.

Luke 10:17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

So where did the disciples fail? Did they fail to call upon the name of Jesus, in a spirit of prayer? Or more importantly a lifestyle and attitude of prayer and dependence on God?

Disciples’ Powerlessness

Jesus attributed the lack of power to faithlessness and perverseness. He also refers to prayer and fasting later on.

Inspite of constantly being in touch with Jesus, their minds were still tuned to the world.

Their motives may not have been the best.

No matter what we do for Jesus, we need to guard our minds and hearts and keep them on things above.

We need to search ourselves and acknowledge our failures, if we want to go to the next level.

Acknowledging weakness

While they initially failed to acknowledge this issue, they did later try to find out where they failed. They were learning fast. Do we go to God with every failure placing it at the throne of grace, asking Him how we can be better?

That is growth!!

No matter what we do for Jesus, we need to guard our minds and hearts and keep them on things above.

We need to search ourselves and acknowledge our failures, if we want to go to the next level.

Christ’s Patience

The disciples fell and failed many times till they rose to the position of apostles and foundations of the church.

We test God’s patience. That should enable us to be patient with others.

Christ’s power

Once again, Christ vanquished the demon and gave the boy freedom and a new life.

He can help us overcome every defeated situation.

The name of Christ holds a lot of power.

Never even accidentally should we bask in the glory that should belong to Christ

Christ’s power

Luke 9:43 “And they were all amazed at the greatness of God”.


1.What are the different types of “demons” we face in the 21st century? How do we eradicate them?

2.How do we ensure success always in getting rid of Satanic power over our lives and others learning from the disciples’ failure?

3.How have you helped others face “demons” in their lives?

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