Jesus Heals a Boy His Disciples Could Not

Matthew 17:14-21

After the transfiguration experience, Jesus returned to the multitude of people who had been seeking him and following him.  A certain man came and kneeled down in front of Jesus.  The man asked Jesus if he would, “have mercy on my son.”

The man described his son as “lunatic and sore vexed.”  The man’s son had problems controlling himself and often fell into the fire or into water.  

In our day, falling into a fire is not a danger we often face, but in the days of Jesus, all cooking was done on a fire.  Fires were part of everyday life.  If a boy kept falling into the fire, that would certainly be “sore vexing” for the entire family!

The man told Jesus that they had brought his son to Jesus’ disciples and they could not heal him.  The man was deeply troubled and now went directly to Jesus for help.

When Jesus was told his disciples could not cure the boy, Jesus said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him hither to me.”  And Jesus healed the boy right then.

The Divine Healer by Harry Anderson

The disciples had been given authority to heal “every disease and every sickness” and were troubled that they couldn’t help the boy.  When they asked Jesus why this was, Jesus said, 

“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.  Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

We don’t fully know the condition of this boy.  We don’t know what was meant by “lunatic” and whether it was a mental disease, a physical disease, or some interference from evil spirits that needed to be cast out.  Some say it may have been epilepsy, but we don’t know.  We also don’t really know what Jesus’ disciples did to try to heal the boy.  

What we do know is that Jesus made all the difference.  Faith in Him will make all the difference for us, too.  Jesus can fix problems.  And he taught us that prayer and fasting together can bring his power to us when we need it most and have been unable to get help any other way.

What do you think?

  • How troubling would it be if you had a family member “ofttimes” falling into a fire?  Have you been very troubled about things in your life or about a family member?
  • What were the disciples lacking when they tried to cure the boy?
  • How much faith in Jesus do we need to solve problems?
  • How do we get faith?  How do we build more faith in Jesus?
  • How do prayer and fasting show God we really need His help?

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