Faith of Jesus Daily Devotional - Day 70
Matthew:17:14-23 The Healing of a Boy With a Demon
Previous Context: devotion:Matthew:17:1-13 The Transfiguration
What is God doing?
"And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him".
You will recall that for a brief time that Jesus had given the disciples a special anointing to heal and cast out devils, he sent the twelve in pairs and then again the seventy. They had returned with a good report which means that all in all the anointing worked and they saw it do many amazing things. If left to God's power only, surely God's power would be effective in all cases. There is an indication here now that God has added a human variable in the case of discipled men operating within HIS anointing that lessens the guaranty of HIS power's effectiveness. This variable then is by God's choice.
We have wagered in healings past there was little or no accountability of faith on the part of those being healed by Jesus; all were healed it seems regardless. Occasionally there is mention of a particular faith, say of the Gentiles that exhibited it in front of a Jewish audience, but how could we say that it was required in any singular case? This however is a stand out case where Jesus sharply rebukes an entire generation. By the direction He goes with it, the one identifiable variable seems to rest squarely upon the disciples faith it's self not being capable of executing this command on this type of devil because of something they were or were not doing personally.
"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".
This is a public rebuke, it was not pointed at the man per se nor the disciples; at least neither of them were singled out publicly. What's more, it is still not said that the epileptic nor the man nor anyone there believed any bit more the second time. It appears to be a show of Jesus' faith in God's anointing that the disciples should have had; not of their own belief. What then may we gather about Jesus' faith?
"Jesus rebuked the devil"
The first point to mention is that Jesus saw this as a case of demon possession; there is a discernment (perhaps familiarity) involved because possession is not always the case. We have suggested that in every previous case at all times the humbled earthly Jesus is looking to the Father for what to do and say; that He does. Therefore we might further suggest that one's discernment and familiarity is secondary to one's seeking the Father's command and then an obedience to that. It is more a discernment and familiarity with the Father in that respect than the same towards disease or possession. We more likely need a disciple to know that he knows what the Father herein has commanded him? In this case to know the command to have been to rebuke the devil.
The second point is one of the perception/faith of authority. In giving the disciples this anointing, Jesus also shared His authority over devils. It is one thing to have sought out and believe to have sense of the divine directive, it is another to believe to have the authority. A devil has little if any respect for one's personal conviction that he/she has obtained the God given directive, it is the authority that moves a devil out from it's new found comfy abode.
Both facets are equally important and may better establish for us the variable of the anointed's faith God has placed upon HIS otherwise ever effective power. It might well show us too the difference between the men's current faith and the faith of their master Jesus. The faith that they once had may have been enough in the majority of cases. The faith that they were soon to have would be better suited for all the cases they might come upon; it would provide less opportunity for the critics to say of our Lord "see we told you so".
"Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting".
The answer Jesus puts forth is prayer and fasting. What good would prayer and fasting be? Consider the benefit to these men seeking out and becoming more familiar with the Father so as to hear HIS directive, the practice of having sought HIM out in the smaller things. Consider the benefit of putting the body into subjection to the spiritual will so as to obey the directive once heard. Consider the benefit of better knowing the authority of God by placing one's self more fully under it and thereby knowing what authority is given those under God's authority over any and all things that are not. There then is the added benefit of prayer and fasting; it is a benefit that is left to us to choose to be under.
What is man doing?
"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"
We have long said throughout this devotion that man is taking all things and finding a way to corrupt them to various extents and effects. There are a myriad of ways in the long run to corrupt these masterful teachings of Jesus. In this case it might begin by not seeking the Father and HIS directive or not seeking this enough. It might continue outward in the manner or form which we intend obey it. It might further be pulled off course by the authority we perceive given and thus convey towards the object of difficulty. These are all essential articles of the faith and they are all articles of the faith that we are making smaller than even the tiny mustard seed by our human tendency towards corruption; each of us in our own way.
Even with knowing all this, these essentials can further be corrupted by our tendency to hold off operating fully in these essentials until the time slips passed where the greater faith could be used, after we have failed God and caused HIS enemies excitement.
What does this passage tell us about the about the commands and faith of Jesus that saints are to keep/guard?
"Why could not we cast him out"?
A great many people associate faith with positive self determination. The power is within them only needing to be drawn together tighter and tighter into a solid fist to knock the obstacle somewhere out of the picture.
For the saint faith is an entirely different thing (though we often try to make it not be so). Power is first and foremost an anointing, not of ourselves it is Christ's from the Father only; for their use and purpose. We are to be a conduit of only that. Along with that anointing comes an accountability on us not only have "a faith", but to have "the faith" that willingly submits/places us under the constant authority/influence of the Holy Spirit, plus "the faith" to fully know and convey the authority given to those under such authority to perform any and everything God has so directed. It is not a momentary fist clinched with determination that the saint draws to fight, it is a lifetime of spiritual influence and preparation for times of such accountability as these with God's power.
Today's lesson is not just a lesson concerning exorcism (as better explained by the analogy of moving mountains). It is not just a about finding the extra boost of effectual faith whenever you need it; because one never knows when they are going to need it. Besides whoever said that it is for whenever you need it? Isn't it rather whenever the Lord could use it?
Next: devotion:Matthew:17:24-27 The Temple Tax