Luke: 37 – 50 NLT
Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Boy
37 The next day, after they had come down the mountain, a large crowd met Jesus. 38 A man in the crowd called out to him, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, my only child. 39 An evil spirit keeps seizing him, making him scream. It throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It batters him and hardly ever leaves him alone. 40 I begged your disciples to cast out the spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”
41 Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you and put up with you?” Then he said to the man, “Bring your son here.”
42 As the boy came forward, the demon knocked him to the ground and threw him into a violent convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit and healed the boy. Then he gave him back to his father. 43 Awe gripped the people as they saw this majestic display of God’s power.
InterVarsity Press’ online commentary talks about the boy’s condition (which was also written about in Matthew): “Matthew 17:14-15 says the boy is “moonstruck” and describes symptoms of epilepsy, a disease that ancient Jews viewed with much apprehension (van der Loos 1965:401-5). The disease brought terror because of its associations with darkness. It was this condition that David feigned as having before Saul (1 Sam 21:13). The detailed description of the possession’s effects underline the father’s terror as he watches his son controlled by forces that seek to destroy the boy. There is hardly a better metaphor in the whole Bible for the effects of evil’s presence in one’s life.”
Jesus rebukes the disciples for not being able to handle this situation. Remember at the beginning of chapter 9 when Jesus sent his disciples out in twos to proclaim the Good News? “One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases.” (9: 1) I wonder if the disciples had gotten a little self-confident, and forgot to trust God for the power to deal with the situation.
It’s easy to do. Sometimes we are involved in some type of service in our church, or in the community, and after a while, we think we know the “job” and we prepare and do the work without praying for God’s help. We need to remember we are weak and he is strong.
Jesus Again Predicts His Death
While everyone was marvelling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, 44 “Listen to me and remember what I say. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies.” 45 But they didn’t know what he meant. Its significance was hidden from them, so they couldn’t understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.
Jesus is preparing his disciples for what is coming. He doesn’t outline all the details, but gives them information a bit at a time. God knows they likely couldn’t handle all the details at this point. Later after Jesus’ resurrection, they likely talk with each other about those early clues. Remember when he said …?
Again, I love the fact that God knows us and only gives us what we can bear. In the “love chapter” in Corinthians, God tells us that we have limited ideas in this life, but he knows us and our future.
1 Corinthians 13:12: “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”
The Greatest in the Kingdom
46 Then his disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he brought a little child to his side. 48 Then he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.”
Using the Name of Jesus
49 John said to Jesus, “Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn’t in our group.”
50 But Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.”
The disciples have a lot to learn about God’s ideas about what is great and good. I suspect we have a lot to learn as well. We might look at their argument about which one of them was the greatest as being rather silly and childish. But, how often do you actually wonder about how great/good you are yourself? How often do you judge others based on who you think is great or not? We might not say it out loud, but I imagine we think it. And those thoughts likely influence our behaviour toward others. Do we really think, “Whoever is the least among you is the greatest”? Not in our culture.
O Heavenly Father, help us/me to be humble before you and with those around us/me.”
Our song for today is Walk by Faith by Jeremy Camp.