Jesus heals a sick boy - Artist unknown

When Jesus and the three disciples came to the crowd (presumably returning from atop the mountain where the disciples witnessed the transfiguration), a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus said to the disciples, “How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.”

The Possessed Boy at the Foot of Mount Tabor - James TissotJesus rebuked the demon and it came out of the boy and he was healed instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive out the demon?”

Jesus 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.”

When they came together in Galilee, he said to them,

“The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.”

And the disciples were filled with grief.

Advertisements

What the story means to us today

Faith – a recurring theme throughout the Bible

Jesus had earlier given the disciples the authority to heal “every disease and every sickness”. However, the disciples are unable to heal the boy because they lack faith. Faith is a recurring theme throughout the Bible. Faith is simply believing in something. As Christians, we must believe God exists, the Bible is his word, and that he sent his son to earth as our savior. Faith is not always easy, but it is required of us.

Additional thoughts and considerations

The “demon” inside the boy

Jesus heals the demon-possessed boy - Artist UnknownMark also describes the event and gives a more detailed description of the boy’s condition. According to Mark, the boy would at times lose the ability to speak, would grind his teeth, and become rigid. Mark says when Jesus cast out the demon, the boy cried out, foamed at the mouth, and fell to the ground. Onlookers thought the boy had died. However, the boy stood and was fine.

Although the New Testament describes the cure as “driving out a demon”, it may not be describing a true demon in the modern-day sense of the word. In ancient times, many illnesses were considered works of the devil. As such, they could be cast out of a person just like a demon.

Nine disciples stay behind and minister to the people

The verses do not specifically indicate the timing of the story, but it is easily determined from the events that are described. This story occurs after Jesus and the three disciples’ trip to the mountaintop where the disciples witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration. Nine of the disciples stayed behind after Jesus, Peter, James, and John left for the mountaintop. Apparently, they acted as ministers to the people in Jesus’ absence.

Jesus is disappointed because the disciples still lack faith

When Jesus hears that the disciples were unable to heal the boy, he tells them,

“You are an unbelieving and perverse generation. How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?”

The reason for Jesus’ disappointment is clear. By calling them perverse, he is telling them that they are “backward” and unbending. His comment, “how long shall I say with you?” relates to the nearness of his death. “How long shall I put up with you?” is a scolding with a sense of urgency. Jesus will not be with the disciples much longer and yet; they are still learning. His time on earth is short – the disciples must learn to not rely on him – and they must learn fast.

Faith

James 5:14 tells us,

“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick.”

Jesus healing a demon-possessed boy - Artist UnknownThe disciples had faith – otherwise they would not have attempted to drive the demon from the boy. However, their faith is weak and thus, ineffectual (assuming the attempted healing was God’s will).

Healing by faith is not magic. It is a spiritual trust in God’s power. How do we develop strong faith? Through a life bathed in prayer and worship.

What happened to verse 21?

Look at the verse numbers in your Bible and you will likely find that verse 21 is missing. The scriptures skip from verse 20 to 22. This is because most scholars believe verse 21 was inserted into the text by a copyist. It is indeed an odd verse if you do not take it into context with the same story told from Mark’s vantage.

Verse 21 says,

“But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

By itself, the verse does not make sense. But if taken in context with Mark’s account of the same story, we can see this was a response to the disciples’ question about their lack of faith. When the disciples asked Jesus why they could not drive out the demon, Mark records that Jesus told the disciples, “This kind can come out only through prayer.”

Jesus’ second “passion” prediction

This is the second time Jesus predicts his own death. He has alluded to it in vague terms, but now Jesus continues to emphasize that his death is God’s will and part of God’s plan for mankind. The disciples, however, are sad. They still are not sure if Jesus’ prediction should be taken literally. And they certainly have no understanding of his predicted resurrection.

Notes on Biblical translation

“Seizures”

Jesus heals a boy - Artist UnknownThe man pleads with Jesus to heal his son saying, “He has seizures and suffers greatly”. The original Greek word for seizures is “moonstruck”. It possibly means lunatic but in most translations is rendered as seizures or epilepsy.

Bible Text

NIV

14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

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.” [21]

22 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. 23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.

The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.

Jesus heals a sick boy - Gustave Dore (abt. 1870)The NET Bible

17:14 When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, 17:15 and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, because he has seizures and suffers terribly, for he often falls into the fire and into the water. 17:16 I brought him to your disciples, but they were not able to heal him.” 17:17 Jesus answered, “You unbelieving and perverse generation! How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I endure you? Bring him here to me.” 17:18 Then Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of him, and the boy was healed from that moment. 17:19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?” 17:20 He told them, “It was because of your little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you.”

17:22 When they gathered together in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. 17:23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they became greatly distressed.

Biblical Studies Press. The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006. Print.

New King James Version

14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

17 Then 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.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”

20 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. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

22 Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful.

The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.

Jesus heals an epileptic boy - David MartinThe Message

14–16 At the bottom of the mountain, they were met by a crowd of waiting people. As they approached, a man came out of the crowd and fell to his knees begging, “Master, have mercy on my son. He goes out of his mind and suffers terribly, falling into seizures. Frequently he is pitched into the fire, other times into the river. I brought him to your disciples, but they could do nothing for him.”

17–18 Jesus said, “What a generation! No sense of God! No focus to your lives! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here.” He ordered the afflicting demon out—and it was out, gone. From that moment on the boy was well.

19 When the disciples had Jesus off to themselves, they asked, “Why couldn’t we throw it out?”

20 “Because you’re not yet taking God seriously,” said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.”

22–23 As they were regrouping in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him—and three days later he will be raised alive.” The disciples felt terrible.

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005. Print.

King James Version

14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. 19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and ifasting.

22 And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: 23 And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.

The Holy Bible: King James Version. Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009. Print.

Sources: NIV, The Message, The NET Bible, King James Version, NET Bible Notes, Faithlife Study Bible, The Apologetics Study Bible, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary, The Bible Reader’s Companion, Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Holman Concise Bible Commentary, The Bible Exposition Commentary, The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, The Teacher’s Commentary, The Bible Guide, Word Studies in the New Testament, Holman Bible Handbook, Calvin Commentaries, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines, The New Manner and Customs of the Bible, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, The Lexham Bible Dictionary, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, The Archaeological Encyclopedia, Biblical Archaeology Review, The New Bible Dictionary, The Lexham Analytical Lexicon, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database
Advertisements