- Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:15-20)
“Lord, please give me to say that which you want your people to hear. Help me serve you well this day.”
Today’s scripture is a continuation of the last three weeks, when we began to see the person that Jesus was to become. We witnessed the baptism of Jesus, enjoining Him with each of every one of us; then the wedding at Cana, where his mother made him turn water into wine; and, finally His preaching in his own synagogue and almost being run out of town.
Today we look at His first healing: this one on a small boy whose possession sounded a lot like epilepsy.
The father had brought his son to the Apostles for healing, but they could not heal him. Although they had been saved, commissioned and empowered by Jesus, they did not have enough faith to heal. They had gotten cocky and overconfident, and when put to the test, failed miserably.
As some of you know, I have a gift of healing – not curing but relieving dis-ease in people with my hands. But is it not me that does it; it is something that is holy and relies on my belief in the power given to me. When I don’t center and act as a vehicle, it just doesn’t work. I can understand how the disciples felt when they couldn’t heal the boy.
The father appealed to Jesus, distraught in his own disappointment and having his own doubts about the faith he had in this man from Galilee. He had heard such wonderful things about this man, but when the disciples failed, his faith became wobbly.
This is the first time that Jesus shows impatience. . .
- almost anger . .
at the disciples for trusting in themselves instead of God.
And for the man, because the disciples inability to heal caused him to waver in his faith.
But Jesus did drive out the demons anyway. . . and they stayed out.
Many people assume this scripture is about the healing, but it is not. It is about faith and belief. The disciples did not have enough faith to heal and the father did not have enough faith to believe even though the disciples couldn’t heal his son.
One of the biggest challenges that face us today is to maintain that belief, no matter what happens. It is only human to doubt your beliefs if you are disappointed . . .
- Or if someone you believe in lets you down after promising they won’t…
Or if things turn out differently than you want…..
We all believe somewhat.
But we live in a time when it is hard to believe in anything.
We are bombarded, being told what we ‘should’ believe,
or worse yet what we ‘do’ believe.
So many things are uncertain. We see wars going on and can’t justify them in our mind with what we have been taught about treating other people.
People in authority misuse or abuse the power and we don’t know what to do.
People who should be supportive suddenly turn their back on us.
But there is one constant throughout this turmoil. . . .
He is there for us to believe in . . .
and have faith in.
He is never-changing and unending.
We as deacons need to bring this good news to the people of the world.
And more importantly we need to hang onto our own faith and belief in Jesus. . .
Not only for ourselves, but for others who need us to show them the way.
And soon we are going to proclaim something pretty marvelous. . .
something we believe. . .
Delivered at Anglican Academy Friday Night Evening Prayer, 2 Feb 2007