Matthew 17:14-16. “And when they were come to the multitude, there came to Him a certain man kneeling down to Him, and saying, Lord have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for oftimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to Thy disciples, and they could not cure him.”
As soon as Jesus and the three disciples came down from the mountain and neared the crowds, a man came and knelt at Jesus’ feet. He had a sad story to tell.
“Teacher, my son behaves like a lunatic. He keeps falling into the fire and the water, and someone has to be near him at all times or he would destroy himself. I brought him to Your disciples, but they haven’t been able to do anything for him. Lord, have mercy on my son!”
Whether this boy was afflicted with epilepsy or was demon-possessed has been long debated. My personal sense is that he was possessed. The frequency of his behavior is not consistent with epilepsy; also, as far as I know, people with epilepsy do not seem to make attempts to harm themselves when they are having seizures. We’ll see more about this question tomorrow.
Today I want to focus on this father, who, it would seem, was doing everything in his power to help his son. We don’t know for sure how old this boy was, but it seems clear that he was well past the toddler stage. Yet, he still needed constant supervision to prevent him from doing serious damage or even causing his own death.
I wonder about the faith of this father, who obviously hoped for a miracle. When he took his son to the disciples, they weren’t able to help him. How disappointed he must have been! Buth then, he decided to wait for Jesus. He would go to the source and get the help he needed there.
Can you imagine that the disciples must have been chagrined, to say the least, when their efforts turned up empty? Jesus had given the power they needed, and yet the boy was beyond their ability. They were a company of believers with a powerless testimony at that moment.
We are the same when we don’t remember the Source of the power, when we lose our focus, as Peter did when he tried to walk on the water. We pray and get nothing, we work and witness and teach and preach, but our return is very small. It’s easy to become discouraged and to walk away.
Tomorrow, we’ll see what Jesus had to say about the disciples, and the boy.