MATTHEW 17:14-21: “When they came to the crowd, a man came to Yeshua, falling on his knees before Him and saying, “Master, have mercy on my son, for he has seizures and suffers badly. For he often falls into the fire and often into the water. I brought him to Your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.” And answering, Yeshua said, “O faithless and twisted generation! How long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” Yeshua rebuked the demon and it came out of him, and the boy was healed from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Yeshua in private and said, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because you trust so little. Amen, I tell you, 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.” [footnote: Most manuscripts omit verse 21: But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.]” TLV
OBSERVATION: What is the condition of my faith? Do I have faith in the God who can move mountains, or is my faith limited by what I see? Jesus did not rebuke His disciples because of their quantity of faith. Jesus rebuked them because of their quality of faith. Even the smallest faith in the God of all creation is enough to move the mountains of this life!
I think we can all identify with the 9 disciples that were left in the valley as Jesus ascended the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James, and John. Here the three beheld Jesus in all of His glory, as Jesus spoke with Moses and Elijah, and as the Father proclaimed His pleasure in His Son. Meanwhile, down in the valley, the 9 disciples were confronted with a demon possessed boy. Even after previous victories where they saw demons succumb to the name of Jesus, they were unable to fulfill the request of this desperate father. This is the scene that Jesus finds when He comes down from the presence of God on the mountain.
Jesus’ rebuke to His disciples seems at first appearance to be quite harsh. Yet, it must be contrasted with what He had just experienced on the mountaintop. For that moment Jesus was reunited in His glory with the Father. This was a foretaste of His upcoming resurrection and ascension. On that mountain Jesus was clothed in all of the glory that He willfully laid down to become a man. When Jesus came down from this experience, and saw the brokenness, hopelessness, and lack of faith in the valley – in a moment of true humanity and frustration He declared – “O faithless and twisted generation! How long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?” But Jesus did not stop there. Jesus then said – “Bring him to me.”
Jesus then lovingly and compassionately healed the boy and taught his disciples about faith. This shows the mercy and love of God always reaching out to man. Even though the disciples had a lapse of faith, Jesus did not leave them there. He taught them so that He could restore them. The risen and glorified Jesus no longer battles with the human emotions that He experienced when He came down from the mountaintop. As our victorious Savior He always stands ready to help us, even in our weakest estate. He knows our frame, he knows we are but dust. And when we hear His promise, “All things are possible to those who believe,” like the father with the demon possessed boy, when we cry out, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief,” Jesus comes to teach us and strengthen us.
When Jesus told his disciples, “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting,” He was not giving them a formula for casting out a demon. Rather, He was calling them to intimacy with the Father so that they could be strengthened in their faith. While Jesus was on the mountain He enjoyed intimate fellowship with the Father. As a result, when he came off the mountaintop, Jesus was full of faith. On the other hand, the disciples were empty and they were trying to move in the power of faith without abiding with the God of faith. Prayer and fasting ushers us into intimacy and fellowship with God. This is where faith is strengthened and matured. This is where we find the confidence to trust in the one who alone can move the mountains in our life.
Lord, help me to pause each day and take time to be in Your presence. Give me a heart that hungers for You and that abides in prayer. Open Your Word so that I can see You and know Your heart. And as I grown in my knowledge of You, Lord I pray, strengthen my faith.
In Jesus Name!