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October 18, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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“A man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, ‘Lord, have mercy on my son . . . for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”—Matthew 17:14-16 (NKJV)
It all begins with a father who is heartbroken over his son, who’s suffering from constant uncontrollable fits jeopardizing his life. He seeks out a healing, but Jesus isn’t there because He had taken Peter, James, and John for an overnight lesson. So, the dad asks the remaining disciples to heal his son, which they were unable to do. Just then, Jesus returns and the father begs Him to do what the disciples couldn’t. Notice Christ’s response: “Jesus answered and said, ‘O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.’ And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour” (Matthew 17:17-18 NKJV).
A couple of important things happen here. For one, Jesus casts a demon out of the son and he’s instantly healed. But perhaps more intriguing is the rebuke that directly proceeds the miracle where He calls those present as “faithless and perverse.” Who’s He talking to here? He’s talking to the disciples . . . Ouch! Why so harsh? We get a clearer understanding as we read on: “The disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:19-20 NKJV).
Jesus merges the miracle with a message. He was able to do what the disciples couldn’t, and the reason was their “unbelief.” Though they’d previously been given a measure of Christ’s power over demons, things were now different. Jesus is teaching them their need for their own personal connection with God in order to be spiritually effective. They couldn’t just “clock in” with God and expect miracles. They needed what Jesus had, a vibrant relationship with the Father founded on personal faith and trust . . . so do we!
This doesn’t mean faith empowers us to do all things. It means faith connects us to the One who is able to do all things. This miracle and its message remind us how essential our connection to God is, and how He is able when we are not!
DIG: Why was Jesus able to do what the disciples couldn’t?
DISCOVER: What’s the message we need to take away from this miracle?
DO: Consider what steps you can take to fuel and strengthen your faith in God?