Jesus and His three disciples who accompanied Him on the mountaintop are rejoining the other disciples. A large crowd had gathered in Jesus’ absence and His disciples have been ministering to those in need. Jesus’ disciples have run into a problem during Jesus’ absence.
The disciples have come up against a demon/disease they can’t cast out/cure. The suffering person is a “boy” who was brought to Jesus’ disciples by his father. The boy was mute and deaf from “his childhood” and also suffered seizures/fits. The disciples have done all they know how to do to deal with this boy’s illness. Once Jesus arrives on the scene though, the boy’s troubles are nearly at an end.
As soon as Jesus steps into view of the crowd there is a mad rush to get to Him. Although Jesus’ disciples were given authority over diseases and demons, they are one step removed in the miracle chain. Everyone wants the head person when dealing with their issues. Jesus is that person. He is the author of the miracles; the source of healing.
Jesus immediately notices there is a problem when He walks into the area where the crowd is. Jesus knew there was an argument in progress and addressed that first. Did you notice that neither the scribes nor the disciples answered Jesus’ question? The person who answered was the one seeking help. But the argument ceased none the less.
The father’s first statement shows that he was initially seeking Jesus’ help, not the disciples. He willingly allowed the disciples to try and help his boy in Jesus’ absence. Because he was dealing with Jesus’ disciples was his faith weaker too? It is one thing to believe Jesus can heal, but to believe the disciples were able to use the same power as Jesus in His absence may have overstretched the father’s faith. Did this contribute to the disciples’ difficulty?
When Jesus’ disciples were sent out after being given authority over illness and demons they came back with glowing reports. They saw firsthand that the authority they were given worked. So why didn’t they have enough or the right kind of faith in this instance? I’m assuming they never encountered this particular disease before. Did that shake their faith? Were they afraid their authority was wearing off?
By the time the father made it to Jesus, his doubts were huge. “But if You can do anything” (verse22) is a phrase full of doubt. Not like the woman who said, “If I can but touch the hem of His garment, I know I will be made whole” (Matt. 9:21). Jesus noticed his doubt too and spoke directly to it. “All things are possible for one who believes” (verse 23). The father is desperate and willing to do anything Jesus asks of him. But he also knew he harbored doubts and that’s why he cried out, “I believe, help my unbelief!” (verse 24). He needed Jesus’ help even believing.
Jesus met that honest heart’s cry. He strengthened the father’s faith and dealt with the child’s illness PERMENANTLY. Remember Jesus’ cautions a while ago about demons returning to the one they left. He put a stop to that possibility for this boy. When He told the spirit to come out He also told it to never enter the boy again. This prevented this boy from becoming like the man from Gennesaret who met them among the tombs.
The evil spirit went for one last hurrah as it left. The boy had on last terrible seizure and when it ended the people thought he was dead. I wonder what the father thought. Did he think his son was dead? There was enough time between the ending of the seizure and Jesus reaching out to take the boy’s hand for people to actually voice that thought. Was the father responding to the crowd’s fears? Had he seen the boy like this before, following one of his seizures? Rather than speak to the crowd’s fears or wait for the father to voice his own, Jesus simply reached down, took the boy’s hand, and helped him to his feet. I’m certain father and son had a joyous reunion at that point.
After Jesus and His disciples left the crowd and headed into the house where they were staying, the disciples wanted to know what they had done wrong. “Why could we not cast it out” (verse 28). In Matthew’s gospel he shares a different aspect of the “why” than Mark does. Matthew focuses on the size of their faith, where Mark focuses on the preparation for the battle.
Father God, thank You for sending Jesus to walk the dusty roads with us. To feel our daily struggles. To personally touch the lives of so many people. To bring salvation to all. Jesus’ touching of this boy went way beyond that one day. It changed his life forever. I wonder what became of him and his father after their encounter with Jesus. Did they become followers? Did they have a role to play in the early church? Did the father ever doubt again? I would love to meet them and hear their story. Can that be part of bench time too?
Jesus, You know my faith. I have so many areas that I struggle with doubt in. I DO NOT doubt who You are. You are the Son of God. My Savior. My ONLY hope. I DO NOT doubt that You can and do heal. I just struggle with doubt when it comes to Your choice of how and who to heal, especially in my personal circle. I have fewer doubts in my financial areas. I trust You with my whole life and will walk the paths You put before me. I have faith that You will care for me and open doors to the places You have prepared for me.
Like the father in our story, I am being honest and acknowledging that I have doubts. Also like him, I’m asking and praying for You to help my unbelief. I truly want to see miracles of healing in my family. I know that would mean a lot of changes for me, but I know I can trust You in that too. However Lord, if this is the path that You want us to continue walking, I will trust You here too. I’m need You help walking it though. I need Your Spirit to fill me with understanding, patience, and joy every day. New every morning. Maybe that is why You haven’t chosen to end this leg of our journey yet; I still have lessons I need to learn. Please don’t let my lessons be a hindrance to Steve’s deliverance. Thank You for carrying us each day along the way.