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Where is Your Trust?

Where is Your Trust?

I. A Father’s Concern Unveils A Problem (17:14-18)

(17:14-18)

(14-15) Coming down from the mountain top

- Jesus and the disciples are back among the crowds
* All three of the Gospels with this account place the event after the transfiguration of Jesus.
* This may bring to mind the similarities of Moses experience on top of Mt. Sinai and coming down the mountain to Israel’s apostasy. Although, here the theme is spiritual conflict.
* In this particular case, Jesus was with the three disciples coming back to the rest of the disciples whom are somewhere among the crowd.

- A man approaches Jesus pleading for help

* He is respectful and humble as noticed by the posture and reference to Jesus as “Lord” but not fully understanding as he refers to Him as ‘teacher’ in Mark.

* The boy is spoken of here as displaying the features of a “lunatic”, which seems like a harsh translation used in the New American Standard translation. The literal meaning of the word is “suffers epilepsy”. The symptoms would mimic one who has epilepsy but the other details of falling into fire and water point to lunacy.

* As we will see, the reason for all of this is found in demonic possession. We must make sure that we understand that epilepsy isn’t demonic of itself but demonic control can create symptoms that look like epileptic seizures.

(16-17) This man is looking for help for his son

- A secondary problem is also mentioned.

* When Jesus was on the mountain with the three disciples, the other disciples were approached with this problem. Obviously, the father knew that these were Jesus’ disciples so he went to them.
* The rest of the disciples that were approached couldn’t bring healing to the boy. This is a failure to achieve something that was under the authority given to the disciples.

- This father is desperate

* Notice the language from when they bring the boy to Jesus. “They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!”

* Do you hear the sense of desperation in the Father? Can you picture that this isn’t just someone coming back to get help because others couldn’t (like a customer coming back to the pizza owner when the wrong ingredients are on the order).
* Have some of you ever been there with your children? Especially your adult children? Have you been at the point of crying out to God: ‘if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us’?
* Can you see how this picture is important to the failure of the disciples? It isn’t just an academic exercise or test.

- Jesus’ response tells us the problem

* Notice that Jesus responds by addressing the current generation that is present. However, we know Jesus’ response is connected with the disciples not being able to heal.
* The issue at hand is unbelief and the disciples were reflecting the weakness found in that generation of Jews. The Jews didn’t embrace Jesus as Messiah as witnessed in when the scribes and Pharisees demanded more signs to believe. The disciples demonstrate unbelief in being unable to perform this healing.

* The two rhetorical questions bring to mind similar words spoken in the Old Testament: Consider “Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel. 6 Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; 7 and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” 10 But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the Lord appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? ”

- Jesus calls for the child to be brought to Him.

(18) The cure

- Jesus rebuked the demon and the boy was healed

* The account laid out from Matthew is rather succinct in how Jesus healed the boy. In reality, there were more details that showed the nature of this demonic possession.
* “And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.”
* The picture ends with the boy getting up which is quite a contrast to the number of times the demon was throwing him down and trying to destroy him. This ends the account by showing a picture of restoration.

- One detail of importance in the healing is a thread that has been revealed in the previous sections.

* Notice the action of rebuke as detailed in Mark, who is rebuked? What does the rebuke emphasize?
* Jesus rebukes the Demon that is causing this problem in the boy and the response to the rebuke demonstrates Jesus’ authority and the demons submission to it.

* The thread of Jesus’ authority runs through the last chapter and a half:1. Peter is rebuked and told to get behind Jesus. (don’t be a stumbling block and submit to Jesus’ authority) 2. the disciples are given the picture of discipleship with the cross (focus on the cross symbolism of submission to authority and not punishment) 3. God the Father redirects the attention to Jesus and proclaims His authority. (The Son and “listen to Him”)

1. Peter is rebuked and told to get behind Jesus. (don’t be a stumbling block and submit to Jesus’ authority) 2. the disciples are given the picture of discipleship with the cross (focus on the cross symbolism of submission to authority and not punishment) 3. God the Father redirects the attention to Jesus and proclaims His authority. (The Son and “listen to Him”)
2. the disciples are given the picture of discipleship with the cross (focus on the cross symbolism of submission to authority and not punishment)
3. God the Father redirects the attention to Jesus and proclaims His authority. (The Son and “listen to Him”)

II. The Lesson of Faith (17:19-21)

(19) The disciples seek answers

- The disciples and Jesus are in a private location.

* The Gospel of Mark points out that they were in a house when this private conversation occurred.
* I also think that the nature of this question tells us that the remark about the unbelieving and perverted generation didn’t connect the dots with them.

- Why were they bothered?

* Jesus not only had this divine power but He had the authority to impart to His disciples in “Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.”

* They had cast out demons before and been given the authority over these things but they had failed here. Something needed to change but they didn’t understand what.
* Also, the picture of the father and his son is difficult to see their failure.

(20) Faith is the issue

- Their problem was the littleness of faith

* The word that is found in this verse is speaking of a small amount or to a small degree in relationship to faith. It isn’t that there exists no faith but it is very limited.

* The disciples’ little faith is indicative of a poor-quality type of faith. Dr. Tom Constable notes “It was not the quantity of their faith that was deficient but its quality (strength). In spite of the revelation of Jesus that they had received, the disciples had not responded to it with trust as they should have done. They had some faith in Jesus, but it should have been stronger.”

* In light of the comparison with a seed, their faith was too small because of its focus.

- The quality of faith is emphasized in the mustard seed.

* The mustard is a very small seed and it is used to emphasize that the faith doesn’t have to be large in the sense of legendary to have an effect.
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel according to Matthew “The moving of mountains was proverbial among the Jews for accomplishing something of very great difficulty. The expression should, of course, be understood metaphorically”
* The reason that the disciples were bothered was due to a confidence that expected it to happen and it didn’t. The problem was that their confidence wasn’t placed so much in Christ to work through them but in themselves.

Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary “It is a striking illustration of the fact that faith is, for Jesus, not a matter of intellectual assent, but of a practical reliance on a living God. It is important to observe here that it is not the ‘amount’ of faith which brings the impossible within reach, but the power of God, which is available to even the ‘smallest’ faith.”

“It is a striking illustration of the fact that faith is, for Jesus, not a matter of intellectual assent, but of a practical reliance on a living God. It is important to observe here that it is not the ‘amount’ of faith which brings the impossible within reach, but the power of God, which is available to even the ‘smallest’ faith.”

- Most translations don’t have verse 21 in this Gospel but Mark did record similar words.

* According to the manuscript evidence, it was later copies that included verse 21 but it wasn’t in the earliest ones. (not part of the original)

* However, Mark did record something that Jesus said that is similar to verse 21. “When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.”

* Even though faith isn’t used in the two verses in Mark, it is implied by the reality of prayer. (also Mark goes into further discussion about faith with the father of the demon possessed son)
- Putting together prayer and faith
* At first glance, we see that Jesus points out the incredible difficulty in casting out this demon. It takes incredible power to cast out these demons (the power of God).
* A closer look, tells us that the disciples weren’t exercising their faith. Clearly, they hadn’t prayed or Jesus wouldn’t have needed to cast this demon out.
* One’s prayer life is a gauge of if you are too self-reliant but it also demonstrates how much trust you have in God. 1st Trust in God that He hears and cares about you. 2nd Trust in God that He is powerful enough to physically work in people’s bodies; to change hearts; to affect the timing on events; to bring people along to minister to others; to change desires; to bring opportunities for speaking truth; to move people to meet needs; to give insight to others not seen; to empower areas of our weakness; to move people to minister according to our need; to bring repentance; to change our stubborn selves.

Questions that are helpful for prayer and trust: How often do I pray? (I would say there is a correlation between trust and frequency) How much time do I spend in prayer? (the longer you spend time in prayer the more concentration is important but the more honest your time becomes) How honest am I in conveying my heart in prayer? (have you ever felt despair when you prayed, but spoke in monotone voice; what keeps you from being real since God knows your heart) How real are my prayers? (Are you more specific with details when you talk with a close friend compared with God, sharing specific details isn’t about not being reverent) I can’t be known as a great man or woman of faith without prayer. Faith is trust outside of yourself in God Himself.

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