Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Demon-Possessed Boy Healed
WHILE Jesus, Peter, James, and John are away, likely on a spur of Mount Hermon, the other disciples run into a problem. On his return, Jesus immediately sees that something is wrong. There is a crowd gathered around his disciples, and the scribes are arguing with them. On seeing Jesus, the people are greatly surprised and run to greet him. “What are you disputing with them?” he asks.
Coming forward from the crowd, a man kneels before Jesus and explains: “Teacher, I brought my son to you because he has a speechless spirit; and wherever it seizes him it dashes him to the ground, and he foams and grinds his teeth and loses his strength. And I told your disciples to expel it, but they were not capable.”
The scribes are apparently making the most of the disciples’ failure to heal the boy, perhaps ridiculing their efforts. At just this critical moment, Jesus arrives. “O faithless generation,” he says, “how long must I continue with you? How long must I put up with you?”
Jesus seems to address his remarks to everyone present, but no doubt they are directed particularly to the scribes, who have been making trouble for his disciples. Next, Jesus says of the boy: “Bring him to me.” But as the boy comes to Jesus, the demon that possesses him knocks him to the ground and throws him into violent convulsions. The boy rolls on the ground and foams at the mouth.
“How long has this been happening to him?” Jesus asks.
“From childhood on,” the father answers. “Time and again [the demon] would throw him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him.” Then the father pleads: “If you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.”
Perhaps for years, the father has been seeking help. And now, with the failure of Jesus’ disciples, his despair is great. Picking up on the man’s desperate appeal, Jesus encouragingly says: “That expression, ‘If you can’! Why, all things can be to one if one has faith.”
“I have faith!” the father immediately cries out, but he begs: “Help me out where I need faith!”
Noticing that the crowd is running together upon them, Jesus rebukes the demon: “You speechless and deaf spirit, I order you, get out of him and enter into him no more.” As the demon departs, it again causes the boy to cry out and drives him into many convulsions. Then the boy lies motionless on the ground, so that most of the people begin saying: “He is dead!” But Jesus takes the boy by the hand, and he rises.
Earlier, when the disciples had been sent forth to preach, they had expelled demons. So now, when they enter a house, they ask Jesus privately: “Why could we not expel it?”
Indicating that it was because of their lack of faith, Jesus answers: “This kind cannot get out by anything except by prayer.” Evidently preparation was called for to expel the especially powerful demon involved in this case. Strong faith along with prayer requesting God’s empowering help was needed.
Then Jesus adds: “Truly I say to you, If you have faith the size of a mustard grain, you will say to this mountain, ‘Transfer from here to there,’ and it will transfer, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
How powerful faith can be! Obstacles and difficulties that block progress in Jehovah’s service may seemingly be as insurmountable and irremovable as a great literal mountain. Yet, Jesus is showing that if we cultivate faith in our hearts, watering it and encouraging it to grow, it will expand to maturity and will enable us to overcome such mountainlike obstacles and difficulties. Mark 9:14-29; Matthew 17:19, 20; Luke 9:37-43.
◆ What situation does Jesus find when returning from Mount Hermon?
◆ What encouragement did Jesus give the father of the demon-possessed boy?
◆ Why had the disciples not been able to expel the demon?
◆ How powerful does Jesus show that faith can become?