Jul 31 — Matthew 17-18

Matt 17:1-13 — The Transfiguration
Matt 17:14-27 — Jesus Heals a Boy with a Demon, Temple Tax
Matt 18:1-14 — Who Is the Greatest, Parable of the Lost Sheep
Matt 18:15-35 — Conflict in the Church, Parable of Unforgiving Servant

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

One Reply to “Jul 31 — Matthew 17-18”

  1. I don’t know about you, but for me, one of the most difficult parts of Jesus’ story relates to demon possession. The concept of demons possessing someone, controlling their actions, causing them to suffer is something we would find a medical term for these days. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water” (Matthew 17:15) seems to describe some condition that modern-day doctors would be able to identify as some disease or condition, for which they would prescribe some medication. Jesus on the other hand sees this as demon possession, rebukes the demon and thus cures the boy. My first reaction is to say that demon possession is an ancient, pre-medical knowledge term for mental disorder and Jesus is really just healing that ailment. But in several cases, Jesus commands these demons and they respond to him. He doesn’t speak to the sickness of the lame, rather he test the faith of those who approach him; they are healed through their faith in Christ. The demon-possessed are healed by casting out the demon.

    Sadly, when confronted with the evidence that the disciples “could not heal” the boy Jesus sternly reacts, “You unbelieving and perverse generation” (17:16, 17). In private the disciples have a chat with Jesus and he clarifies, you couldn’t heal the boy “because you have so little faith” (17:20). Ouch! Seriously? Just after the transfiguration where they heard the voice of God proclaim “This is my Son, whom I love” (17:5), these disciples have “little faith?”

    Where does this leave me? Lots of questions come to mind about healing gifts, well beyond the scope of this small blog post, but I hope to take at least one lesson from this section: “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” (17:20). The latest NIV Bible omits 17:21 (no doubt for some technical reason related to the original transcription of the text), but Mark adds, “This kind can come out only by prayer” (Mark 9:29). Other translations say, “by prayer and fasting.” The point I take is this: the more time I spend in prayer, in God’s Word, in walking in step with him, the more I will be able to be used as his instrument and be more effective for kingdom work here on earth. God help my understanding of these difficult passages and increase my faith.

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