37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38Just then a man from the crowd shouted, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he* shrieks. It throws him into convulsions until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.’ 41Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.’ 42While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43And all were astounded at the greatness of God.
No matter how great the mountain-top experience, at some time one has to come down from the mountain – and even on that day, when they had seen Jesus’ transfiguration, had heard the very voice of God, they had to come down from the mountain and engage the world. As often seems to be the case, they returned to an uproar! How often have I been away at some event or holiday where my soul might find peace, only to return to an uproar and problems? And so, Jesus comes down from the mountain, and is met by a crowd.
A man comes out of the crowd and begs Jesus to cast an evil spirit out of his son – the evil spirit is causing the child to have convulsions. (In the first century people believed that convulsions were caused by evil spirits; they had no understanding of brain function. Jesus ministered to them where they were in their understanding. This does not mean that convulsions really are caused by demonic possession; it means that Jesus was sensitive to what the people believed at the time.) The man says that the disciples were unable to cast out this demon. Jesus responded with a comment that shows disgust, with the lack of faith of his disciples? Or was it with the entire generation, the crowd that presses around looking for a sensation? But then he told the man to bring the boy to him – even as he brought the boy, he was dashed to the ground in convulsions.
But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. Whether this was a demon Jesus rebuked, and cast out, or a damaged brain he immediately healed, setting the electrical patterns of the brain back on their proper paths, it was a miracle. Jesus had power and authority over forces both supernatural and natural. And he gave the boy back to his father – the man had brought the child to Jesus because he believed that Jesus could heal; he had faith. Instead he had encountered disciples who were unable to heal. The crowd had gathered to see what would happen next, perhaps even to watch the child suffer. But Jesus came down from the mountain, and met the man where he was, and healed the child.
Sometimes, we act more like the crowd than disciples. Sometimes we stand around and wait for the fight, the sensation, instead of faithfully healing the sick, loving the outcast, and casting out the demons of our day. And yes, we have demons today; they are alcoholism, addiction, greed, fear, hate, and selfishness.