And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.
So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”
And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Matthew 17:14-21. NKJV
The disciples (or followers) of Jesus had just experienced a very valuable lesson as part of their growing experience as ministers of the gospel.
They had failed to or were unable to cast out a devil that was troubling a young man who was brought to them for help.
After Jesus had done what they were unable to do they came to him and asked a very important question, why could we not cast him out?
Their failure surprised them, in the course of following Jesus, they had experienced some degree of success in ministering to the sick and to the afflicted, so they fully expected that this young man would be another statistic in their growing records of success, but it was not to be so.
They had a variety of options open to them in dealing with this situation, for one thing they could have put the blame on the shoulders of the poor young man or his suffering parents and simply said, ‘you don’t have enough faith’, but they didn’t, they wanted to know if they had any part of that failure and yes they did, something stood in the way of the release of their own faith, a little something called unbelief. We shall examine a little later the possible causes of that unbelief.
They could also have said, ‘well, maybe God doesn’t want to deliver the young man, maybe God is trying to teach the parents something through this problem; does that sound familiar?
The testimony of the scripture is clear, Jesus healed all who come to him, God wants all to be healed just as He wants all to be saved.
We may not understand why we fail but please let’s not make God out to be a liar, we may need to ask Him why we failed or why we are not healed but the problem is certainly not from God. His will is clear.
The disciples of Jesus would have said as some say today; it is his destiny (the young man’s) to suffer so, may be he did some terrible things in his past and God is punishing him today, or maybe he is suffering because of some wicked things his parents or fore bears did, so why get in the way of God?
But again the disciples knew God is not the one that steals, kills, or destroys, that is the exclusive preserve of the devil (John 10:10), true, sometimes sin may open the door to some kind of affliction, but forgiveness and faith bring healing and restoration through Jesus.
You know the disciples could have been very modern in their thinking and said to Jesus, ‘this guy is suffering from some psychiatric and schizophrenic disorder, he needs intense psychological help and rehabilitation, not deliverance, this thing is in his mind, the brain is short circuiting, let’s do some MR scans then send him to the psychiatric home and pump him full of drugs to keep him continually sedated and sober’.
But they knew better, this was a devil at work, no excuses, they had failed and they wanted to know why.
This is how we grow as believers, failure is part of the process, we should offer no excuses but simply ask, why did we fail? Many believers offer the same excuses that this disciples could have offered and so their growth and testimony is stunted at that point, they lose faith in God’s supernatural power and start to live the supernatural life of God in very ordinary ways, we need to repent and begin to research the reasons for our failures.
So why did the disciples fail?
Jesus had just one word to explain their failure.
Unbelief, meaning they did not believe, unbelief is a close cousin of doubt, but it is different, what did they not believe? Certainly not that Jesus had power over the devils, they had seen so many examples of that power in their walk with Him, likewise there are few people today who would argue that God does not have the power or ability to cast out a devil or heal a sick person.
The unbelief is usually closer to home, I believe that somehow they could not believe that they had the power and authority in the name of Jesus to cast out the devil, maybe it was something to do with the severe nature of the manifestation of demonic power in this young man, or the sight of the severely bruised and deformed young man (remember the father said, he had fallen into the fire often) that sapped them of their faith or maybe they had believed the lies of the devil and that somehow they were convinced in their minds that this was one case that God did not want to resolve.
Whatever the case, the unbelief in their hearts became a stumbling stone to the release of God’s power through them. It was all to do with them and it is so with us today.
What ‘theology’ have you embraced that diminishes the power of God at work in and through you? Have you ‘adjusted’ your theology to accommodate or justify your failures? You need to repent. Never, never, determine your theology by your experience rather let’s God’s word determine your theology and trust God to grow your experience to the level of His word.
As I travel around, I see this problem everywhere, it is understandable amongst people who have no saving knowledge of Jesus and God’s word but it calamitous amongst those who profess faith in Christ.
The Christ they profess in a very pale shadow of the Christ of the bible. The fault is in us.
Look at the possibilities available to you
If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, You shall say to this mountain, be thou removed and be thou cast into the yonder place, and it shall remove and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
Listen at those words of assurance.
We need to work on our faith, how does this happen?
We simply go back to the gospels and read them over and over again until those words begin to live in our hearts, take particular note of the words that Jesus spoke and the instruction He passed to his followers.
It will not happen overnight, but Jesus will become as real to you in your heart as it was to those men, then His words will mean so much more to you.
You can do the impossible!
Now what about the prayer and fasting Jesus recommended?
My experience with this is that it help us to focus our spiritual energy, weaken the pull of the flesh and liberates our spirits so as to be able to ‘see’ more clearly and discern spiritual things more readily.
You could try a bit of it and see the difference it would make in your life.
Wishing you more success in living the supernatural life.