# 21, continued: AFTER JESUS’ DISCIPLES SEE HIS GLORY,
AN EPILEPTIC BOY IS HEALED
(Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:14-29, Luke 9:37-43)
Summer, A. D. 29, near Caesarea Philippi
As Jesus and Peter, James, and John descend the mountain they see Jesus’ other disciples waiting for him on the plain. Fresh, cool breezes swirl pass them as they descend. They also see a large crowd gathered around the other nine disciples and they notice a controversy stirring among the group below as some Scribes are disputing with Jesus’ disciples.
Some of the people, when they recognize Jesus coming down the mountain into the valley, run to greet him. Jesus approaches the Scribes and asks, “What are you arguing with them about?” (Mark 9:16b, NIV) Suddenly a man bursts through the crowd, knells down before Jesus, and pleads in a loud voice, “Teacher, look - here is my son. He suffers severely because a spirit seizes him and throws him into a convulsion. Sometimes it throws him into the fire and sometimes into the water. Have mercy on him! He is my only child! I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn't cast the spirit out of him or heal him.”
It seemed to please the Scribes to see Jesus' disciples fail to work this miracle. As a large crowd gathers to watch, the Scribes wonder if even Jesus will be able to cast this spirit out. Suspense builds as they watch to see what Jesus will do.
First, Jesus turns to his disciples and rebukes them, “O unbelieving generation! How long will I be with you? How long shall I endure you?” (Mark 9:19, LITV). Earlier he had given them authority to cast out unclean spirits (Mark 3:14-15, 6:7, 12-13).
Then Jesus instructs the father, “Bring your son to me” (Mark 9:19d). As the father begins to bring his son, the demon in the boy sees Jesus and immediately throws the boy down and causes him to foam at the mouth. Jesus asks the father, “How long has he been like this?" (Mark 9:21b) The man answers, “From childhood. But Lord, if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us!” Jesus answers, “If you are able to believe, all things [are] possible to those believing” (Mark 9:23, LITV). The father cries out, “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!”
Jesus sees the faith of the people running together to the scene expecting him to work another miracle (Mark 9:25). In the power of the Spirit, Jesus orders the demon in the boy, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him, and enter him no more!” (Mark 9:25, NKJV) At this command, the spirit causes the boy to convulse and scream and then he relinquishes his hold and comes out of him. He will never enter the boy again, as written, “Affliction will not rise up a second time” (Nahum 1:9b, NKJV).
Jesus takes the boy lying motionless on the ground and lifts him up by the hand and gives him to his father. The boy is totally healed, as written: “the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18b, AMP). The multitude is amazed at how Jesus demonstrates the goodness and majesty of God through this miracle.
Later when Jesus and his disciples are alone in a house, they ask him privately, “Why couldn't we cast the spirit out of him?” Jesus answers, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you” (Matthew 17:20, LITV). For a “mountain” of evil spirits were united together to destroy the boy, but Jesus commanded that mountain to leave. Jesus adds, “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21, LITV). The day before this, Jesus prayed earnestly on the mountain and he must have fasted also.
Old Testament Promise Fulfilled:
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo
the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free,
and that you break every yoke?”
(Isaiah 58:6, NKJV)
If Jesus’ disciples would have had the faith and had drawn enough strength and power from God through praying and fasting, they could have cast the spirit out. In fact, we can all go from strength to strength as we spend quality time with God: “They go from strength to strength [increasing in victorious power]; each of them appears before God . . .” (Psalm 84:7, AMP, see also Isaiah 40:31).
Comments: The man with the tormented son had tried to get his boy healed and failed. The disciples could not cast the demon out, and the man was beginning to think he had a problem that was impossible to solve. Perhaps he was close to losing all hope. But Jesus exhorted him, “All things are possible for the one who believes” (Mark 9:23) and then what had seemed impossible was done!
A few minutes later, Jesus said to His disciples, “If you have faith . . . nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:19-20). Jesus wanted his disciples to step out in faith to do God’s will and for nothing to be impossible for them. Later, Jesus told his disciples, “With God all things are possible” (Luke 19:26).
Jesus also wants us to move out of only doing what is possible and to move into doing by faith what looks impossible. Can you think of an area of your life in which you are ready, by faith, to do or to receive the impossible?
Note: much of this devotional is from The Life of Jesus Foretold, pages 155-158.