HG087 Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:14-29, Luke 9:37-43
Why do the servants of God fail? Why do they often lack power? Why does their faith weaken? This experience of the disciples reveals much about spiritual failure and lack of power.
1. A sense that Christ is far away and out of reach makes one ineffective. The indwelling presence and power of Christ are just not felt—not to the extent that they need to be available. In the above situation Christ was absent, but His power was still available. The disciples were just not all that aware of His power.
2. The lack of leadership causes the faith and loyalty of some to weaken. The nine disciples apparently had no leader to stand forth as a champion of faith and power.
What happens when the servants of God have no power? What are the results of a powerless life and ministry?
⇒ No power causes embarrassment and shame.
⇒ No power causes the world to question and ridicule and belittle.
⇒ No power questions the deity (validity) of Christ and God.
⇒ No power causes the questioning of God and His ability to deliver.
The answer to no power is given by Christ. Power comes (1) by seeking and (2) by prayer
Demon possession and epilepsy were cursed diseases, diseases that caused isolation and rejection by society. Because of society’s reaction, families were often embarrassed when a member was afflicted. Just imagine this scene. The child and father were right in the midst of a shameful experience. They were the subject of the questioning and ridicule. Imagine their embarrassment in being the focus of the crowd’s attention, their problem of demon possession, and their having sought help from apparent frauds.
In drawing the man out, Jesus allowed him to unburden himself, and to again recognize the desperate extremity of his boy’s plight. Think how the father felt seeing his maimed, burnt son wallowing in the dirt, staring up with an unearthly look through terror-filled eyes. Because of his convulsions, he could not even talk or hear.
He cared as no one else ever had, and the father could see it in his eyes. There never has been compassion like that of Jesus! This divine compassion is what drew out the father’s desperate cry: “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.
It is not so much our faith as it is our cry for mercy and compassion that arouses God to help us. It is not so much our faith as the object of our faith (God Himself) that saves us
This is one of the most abused verses in the Bible today. People have ripped it from its context and made it the rationale for saying that their wishes will come true if they can just mount enough faith! There are some who even teach that faith can control God, that if you believe enough, God has to do it! That is man-made, man-centered religion. The fact is, faith must never go farther than God’s clear promises, for “whatever goes beyond God’s Word is not faith, but something else assuming its appearance.
say a parent is greatly concerned over a sick child’s health and longs for the child’s recovery. So he says to himself, “I believe that Christ can heal him. I also believe that he will. I will pray in faith, and I know that I will certainly be answered.” Wrong! Such a prayer goes beyond God’s Word. Certainly Christ can heal his child, but Christ has not told him that his child will indeed be healed. Our faith can be misplaced. This is where so many believers fall short.
Yet there are times when we do not believe God can do anything! There are souls we consider impossible. There are healings we think are beyond his power. In this we also sin!
We fail to believe the promises of his Word, or to pray in faith for their fulfillment. Great things would take place if we would pray for them: salvation of whole peoples, revivals, power in the Church, miracles—both physical and spiritual. There are times when God reveals through his Spirit that he is going to do a specific healing, and in that case the believer can and must pray in faith.
I have experienced this in my own ministry. The Holy Spirit has given me the subjective assurance that he was going to heal one who was ill, I have prayed in faith, and the person was healed. James 5:14, 15 refers to this phenomena when it says, “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church …” (implicitly, as the Holy Spirit prompts him or her to do so). Then the elders can offer a prayer “in faith” (that the Spirit will fulfill his prompting and bring healing), “[a]nd the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.”
Jesus’ statement, which is really a promise, elicited faith from the father. “I do believe,” he exclaimed; but he recognized that his faith was far from perfect (v. 24). It was still mixed with unbelief. So in a beautiful display of honesty, he asked Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief. Calvin (2:325) comments: “He declares that he believes and yet acknowledges himself to have unbelief. These two statements may appear to contradict each other but there is none of us that does not experience both of them in himself”
His faith was trembling, imperfect, but real! A faith which declares itself publicly, and at the same time recognizes its weaknesses and pleads for help, is a real faith.
At Jesus’ command, the deaf and dumb spirit cries out and comes out of the writhing boy (v. 26). All of the signs of death sweep over the boy, “But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose” (v. 27). By this act, Jesus keeps the theme of His death and Resurrection in the minds of the disciples. The demon’s shriek, the boy’s lifeless body, and the Lord’s lifting hand will be remembered the next time that Jesus speaks of His Passion
Lifted him to his feet is literally “raised him,” the same term used to describe the action of God in raising Jesus from the dead,
The Lord gave the boy back his mind, his hearing, his speech, his boyhood, his hope, his visions—and he gave him a faith. Could it have been otherwise?
Power comes to the Church when there is faith.
they were self-deceived in somehow thinking that the gift they had received for exorcism was under their own control and could be exercised at will. Thus, they did not think to pray! They forgot that there had to be radical dependence if God’s power was to course through their lives.
The lesson is profound because it is so simple. We can be called and gifted, prepared and ordained, to be the disciples of Jesus Christ, but if we do not remain in constant contact with the source of our power, we will fail in crisis.