Matthew 17:14 – 18:9
The story of Jesus healing the boy with a demon is instructional on so many levels.
Firstly, the boy’s father comes to Jesus ‘kneeling’ and ‘asking for mercy’ for his son. He is recognising Jesus’ majesty, compassion and power. How do we approach Jesus? Do we acknowledge Him as the supreme authority, healer and lover of our lives?
Secondly, Jesus is saddened by the disciples’ lack of faith. He recognises, though, that it comes from them living in a fallen world – ‘a faithless and twisted generation’. ‘Twisted’ has the meaning of corrupt or rebellious, a reminder of how Adam rebelled against God. His exclamation ‘How long am I to bear with you?’ reflects frustration caused by the urgency with which He wants us to know him personally and operate in faith. Faith comes through knowledge of who Jesus is. None of us have any power as and of ourselves to heal others, but when we trust in Jesus we can pray for people to be healed and they will be. Todd White, who has a powerful healing ministry, testifies how relationship with Jesus is the absolute priority in his life. At the beginning of his ministry he positioned himself to pray for 9-12 people a day. At the end of three and a half months, he had prayed for 900 -1000 people and not seen a single healing. Yet every day he spent time building his relationship with God and believing that breakthrough would come because his priority was God, rather than miracles. The miracles came eventually and in great measure, but they were secondary in importance to Todd’s intimate knowledge of God as father. They were the outworking of his faith, not the reason for his faith. This is a good plumb line. We are all capable of healing people in the name of Jesus, but knowing Him on the inside is essential for us to be able to manifest His power on the outside.
Thirdly, when Jesus rebuked the demon, the boy was healed ‘instantly’. Jesus is described as healing ‘instantly’ twenty-one times in the new Testament. God is a life-changing God and no matter what we are suffering from, He can heal us in the blink of an eye. This doesn’t mean that He always does. There are still mysteries we don’t understand about the timing of healings, but miracles are most certainly still possible and it is great to pray for them.
Fourthly, there’s a dignity and intimacy about Jesus teaching the disciples, which we see in verse 19, where they ‘privately’ discuss the stumbling block to casting out the demon. Jesus reassures them that they need only have faith the size of a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds (as we saw in Matthew 13:31–32) in order to be able to tell mountains to move and they will move. When we seek Jesus too, in private, he treats us with dignity and intimacy, and empowers us through faith to achieve the impossible. Think how different the world would be if all Christians fully embraced the words of Jesus that, even with faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, nothing would be impossible for us!