14When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. 15When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. 16He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; 18and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.” 19He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” 20And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” 23Jesus said to him, “If you are able! —All things can be done for the one who believes.” 24Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!” 26After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand.
It always strikes me that Jesus and the three disciples came down from the mountain-top into a crowd in the midst of a controversy. Isn’t that so very like life? We have experiences of the mountain-top, but then we have to come back down to earth, and face the controversies and the problems of every day life. The vacation or retreat are forgotten in the midst of living. But Jesus doesn’t grumble about wanting more time alone with the disciples to “process” what just happened. He inquires about what is going on. He immediately wades into the thick of things.
A man steps forward – he brought his son to be healed – what he describes in his young son is epilepsy. People in Jesus’ day did not understand about brain action, neurons firing abnormally, those sorts of things. To them, this was caused by a demon. After all, demons were a part of their world view – and Jesus lived with them; he often cast out demons in the course of his healing. He meets us where we are. Today he might explain his healing differently – he might cast out germs, or mend malfunctioning neurons – for those things are a part of our world view.
The man had brought the boy for healing, or to have the demon cast out, but the disciples (those who had not accompanied Jesus up the mountain) had been unable to cure him. Jesus asks the man about the child, and is given a history of his illness. And then the man says, “If you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus says, “If! All things can be done for the one who believes.” I love the father’s reply – he cries out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” All of us who believe sometimes feel like the father – we need help with our unbelief; our faith needs a little shoring up on occasion!
Of course, Jesus heals the boy – but lets talk more about this event tomorrow.