Monday, July 14, 2014

Faith To Move Mountains

Matthew 17:14-27

“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 a lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.  And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.” (Matthew 17:14-16)

As we have stated before, demon possession is the result of a person allowing demonic beings to take control of their thoughts.   If allowed, the thoughts become habitual and increasingly obsessive.  Eventually the thought pattern takes control of the person’s behavior and their actions become increasingly irrational, and often self-destructive or suicidal.  This man’s son frequently threw himself into the fire or into the water, endangering his very life and his father was extremely concerned about him, and had brought him to the disciples to be healed.

Having cast out other demons in their traveling to the various cities, the disciples were dumfounded by their failure in this case, as was the father.  When Jesus returned from his transfiguration on the mountain, the father came to him, hoping he could do something the disciples could not.

“Then Jesus answered and 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 rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.” (Matthew 17:17-18)

Jesus asked how long he would have to put up with their lack of faith.  According to Luke 9:41-42, when they were bringing the boy to Jesus, he had another seizure and Jesus rebuked the evil spirit and cast him out, healing the child immediately. 

“Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

And Jesus said unto them, 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.” (Matthew 17:19-21)

When they were alone, the disciples asked why they had been unable to heal the boy.  Jesus said their problem was their lack of faith.  Like Peter walking on the sea, they began to focus on what was happening around them rather than on the Lord and succumbed to fear.   The problem was not that they didn’t have enough faith, because as little as a single mustard seed   was enough to move an entire mountain.  The problem was that their faith didn’t recognize that God’s power was not limited by circumstances.   As Luke 1:37 says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

This kind of faith can only be obtained by building a close relationship with God, placing Bible study and prayer even above ones physical wants and needs.  As we see repeatedly in scripture, the disciples regularly placed physical rest before time in prayer, and it limited their faith.

“And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.” Matthew 17:22-23)

They had not yet gone to Jerusalem when Jesus began to tell his disciples that he would be killed and rise again on the third day.   Even though they heard the words and were sad at the moment, it wasn’t really real to them but was much like people hearing that a loved one has terminal cancer.  Even when Christ was crucified, they didn’t really get it according to John 20:9.  “For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.”

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?

He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

Peter saith unto him, Of strangers.

Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.  Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.” (Matthew 17:24-27)

Jesus had grown up in Nazareth, and Peter was from Capernaum.  While they were there, some of the tax collectors asked Peter whether Jesus had been paying his taxes and Peter answered that he had.  When they got to the place where they were staying Jesus talked to him about it.  He explained that as children of god Christians do not owe earthly government taxes or loyalty.  For the sake of our testimony to the world, we should obey their laws and pay taxes, however.   

I Peter 2:13-16 describes the attitude we are to have.  “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.  For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.”   Our testimony before the world is more important than our personal rights.

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