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Matthew 17:20  (King James Version)
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<< Matthew 17:19   Matthew 17:21 >>


Matthew 17:14-21

Jesus walked with His disciples from Bethsaida to the neighborhood of Caesarea Philippi. Six to eight days later, Jesus went up into a high mountain to pray, taking Peter, James, and John with Him and leaving His other nine disciples behind. There He was transfigured before the three. Meanwhile in the valley, the remaining nine disciples failed to cast out a demon from a young boy. Descending the day following His transfiguration, Christ healed the demoniac boy.

The failure of the nine disciples had given the scribes fuel for criticism of both the disciples and Christ. When Christ arrived on the scene, the scribes were being critically disruptive about the failure. The scribes were not known for their questioning as much as for their refuting and disputing. "Questioning" (KJV) or "disputing" (NKJV) in Mark 9:14 is translated from a Greek word that implies confuting, that is, attempting to disprove or deny.

The success of Christ, however, countered the failure of the disciples, shutting the mouths of the critical scribes. His coming upon this scene of dispute, chaos, and darkness must have been an incredible contrast to the honor, power, and glory that He had just experienced on the mountain in the Transfiguration. The sights and sounds that met Him on His return to the sinful world must have disturbed Him.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Exorcising a Young Boy (Part One)



Matthew 17:20-21

The disciples' question, "Why could we not cast it out?" suggests that they could not see any reason for their failure. Jesus replies emphatically, "Because of your unbelief. . . . [T]his kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting" (Matthew 17:20-21). Here He emphasizes the necessity and power of faith, as well as the need of intercession and self-denial. Their great lack of faith was not a lack of intellectual acceptance of all Christ stood for, but the lack of living faith in His divine omnipotence. He taught with excellence and performed many miracles, yet His teaching and miracle-working made little progress in the people's faith. Unbelief still dominated them (Romans 3:3-4).

However, Christ continued in patience to teach the people and to work mighty miracles for them. Thankfully, our Savior is patient in dealing with our sluggishness and dullness in learning God's truth and faithfully living His way of life.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Exorcising a Young Boy (Part One)



Matthew 17:17-21

This miracle teaches that it takes the power of faith to overcome the enemy (Matthew 17:20; Mark 9:19, 23-24). Why had the nine disciples failed? They had been careless in their personal spiritual walks and had neglected prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29). The authority that Jesus had given them was effective only if exercised by faith, but faith must be cultivated through spiritual discipline and devotion. The apostle Paul uses Abraham as an example of this:

No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised. That is why his faith was credited to him as righteousness (right standing with God). (Romans 4:20-22, The Amplified Bible)

Half of the healings Christ performed happened due to the prayer of loved ones and friends. The father of the demon-possessed boy remains a monument of faith, timid yet true, through his love for his boy. His pleading, "Have compassion on us, and help us," was highly honored by Jesus.

The key to the exercise of such faith is not its quantity, but the God to whom it is directed; therefore, even the smallest faith—"like a mustard seed"—will see spectacular results (Luke 17:5-6; Matthew 17:20). Jesus says in Mark 9:23, "All things are possible to him who believes." Faith acts as an open door into a relationship with God and as a shield that protects God's people when they are under spiritual attack.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Exorcising a Young Boy (Part One)



Matthew 17:19-21

A lack of faith is a sign of a weak prayer life. Jesus Christ advises us how to address unbelief—prayer and fasting.

On a human level, how do we build trust, faith, and loyalty? Will we have faith in someone we do not know? Can we be loyal to a stranger? We build confidence in others through repeated contact with them over time—close and frequent communication. As we get to know them, to see them in action, to see their characters, we eventually reach a point where we can have trust and faith in them and in their behavior. Is it any different with God?

Prayer provides the repeated and continual contact with God that we need to get to know Him. This sets in motion the process that will lead to faith, to God being willing to give us the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8). The prayerful person becomes the faithful person, not the other way around. Hebrews 11:6 illustrates this point: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

Notice the condition in this verse: God is not the rewarder of everyone, but "of those who diligently seek Him." The gift of living faith comes from diligently, actively seeking Him, consistently and with zeal. Prayer is a major tool in seeking God, along with study, fasting, and using the knowledge gained to conform to His will—practical Christian living and overcoming. Those who prove their diligence by doing these things are the ones rewarded with the faith to overcome (I John 5:4).

The Sabbath is an external sign that identifies God's people (Exodus 31:13, 17). Yet a person may be a nominal Sabbath-keeper without having a true relationship with God. Is there another sign—a less visible one—that perhaps only God sees? Yes, and Zechariah 13:9 shows it is prayer: "They will pray in my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'You are my people,' and they will reply, 'You, LORD, are our God!'" (Contemporary English Version).

Those with a weak prayer life have weak faith (Matthew 17:19-21). Those with weak faith are sinful (Romans 14:23) and are promised death (Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 6:23). That is just how important earnest prayer is as part of a solid foundation, especially during the end time. As I Peter 4:7 instructs, "But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers."

Pat Higgins
Praying Always (Part Two)




Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Matthew 17:20:

Matthew 17:17-21
Matthew 17:17-21
Matthew 17:19-21
Matthew 17:20-21
Ephesians 6:16

 

<< Matthew 17:19   Matthew 17:21 >>
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