"I Brought You My Son."
The church is the presence of Jesus in the world. Let's think about that.
In a startling statement in Mark 9:17-18, "A man in the crowd answered, 'Teacher, I brought you my son... I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not'."
Actually at the time the man brought his son to the disciples Jesus was on the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James and John, and Moses and Elijah. If I was Jesus, I would have pushed back at the frantic and bewildered father, "What do you mean by saying 'I brought YOU my son'? You talkin' to me? I was not even here, you numbskull!"
But, thankfully, Jesus did not say that.
In the mind of the man, to bring his son to the disciples was equivalent to bringing his son to Jesus. The disciples were an incarnate extension of Jesus. The disciples' failure was Jesus' failure. Later on the father would preface his request with "If you can..." (Mark 9:22). This "if you can" irritated Jesus and he responded accordingly. But the man had some reason to question Jesus' ability in light of his disciples' failure.
Jesus in his last hours would pray for the disciples, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:20-21). Oneness with Jesus and the Father...that the world may believe that the Father has sent Jesus. That reality is about us--the church. Most USAmerican Christians are "one" with America more than with the only radical Savior for America.
Ponder these words of the glorified Jesus to Saul of Tarsus, ""Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
Saul answered, "I am not persecuting you, Lord. I'm only persecuting Christians here and there."
Jesus said, "Don't you get it, Saul? Everything you do to the Christians you are doing to me!"
Jesus seals the reality that his followers are his presence in the world.
This world, filled with desperate people, has every right to conclude who Jesus is and what Jesus can do based on the life, words and deeds, attitudes and priorities of the church.
God help us. "Lord, we believe; help us recover from our unbelief."