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What the Bible says about Jesus Christ's Exorcising a Young Boy
(From Forerunner Commentary)

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 17:15

Christ interrupts the father's appeal to ask about the duration of the child's affliction. The man answers, "From childhood," that is, since he had been a small child. The boy was still young, as the Greek word translated "child" in Mark 9:24 implies, but the sense is that the affliction had lasted many months or years. Sin, too, has been with us since we were children (Psalm 58:3; Isaiah 48:8).

The boy's illness—"epilepsy" (NKJV) or "lunatic" (KJV)—was then regarded as a disgraceful disease. Some thought it fell on those who had sinned against the moon (luna, "moon") and changes in the moon were said to govern the period of epileptic seizures. Epilepsy was also connected with demon possession, but we know today that being epileptic does not mean that a person is demon possessed.

The boy's convulsions are sudden and last an incredibly long time, for the evil spirit "departs from him with great difficulty." The demon's frenzy becomes more violent in Jesus' presence: The boy falls on the ground, rolls around, and foams at the mouth. Many who have given themselves to sin could be said to act crazily and irrationally. They may be highly respected people in society, but they do not act sensibly when it comes to life's most important matters. They have no interest in salvation, God's truth, or His Kingdom, justifying all sorts of evil. Their choices to do self-damaging acts shows the craziness of their thinking.

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

Matthew 17:15

The biblical account certainly suggest that the outcome would be death. Sin's costliness and deadliness are connected in Paul's memorable truism, "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). The world frequently advertises that sin results in an exciting life, but this is false, as "sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:15). Many things that society sanctions as good only lead to suffering and death (such as sexual immorality, abortion, and alcohol abuse).

It is by Christ's sinless death that we are forgiven and healed by the stripes He received when beaten (Isaiah 53:5; Matthew 9:2, 5; Mark 2:5, 9; Luke 5:20, 23; I Peter 2:24). God not only removes sin, but He also forgets it (Hebrews 8:12). The prophets Micah and Isaiah vividly illustrate this divine forgetfulness of pardoned sin: God will "cast all our sins into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:19), and "cast all my sins behind Your back" (Isaiah 38:17).

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

Matthew 17:18

The gospels record the boy's horrible symptoms: severe convulsions, foaming at the mouth, grinding of the teeth, and general rigidity of body. Due to sudden attacks, he often fell into the fire and into the water. Another overwhelming symptom was deafness and dumbness. He could utter only inarticulate sounds, though he possessed all the necessary organs for speech. All of his problems came as the result of his miserable, possessed condition, and they left him so emaciated that all life seemed to be draining from him.

Yet, nothing is too hard for Jesus Christ to conquer, no matter how powerful a demon seems to be. After rebuking the faithless and perverse generation, including the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus rebukes the demon, and it departs from him (Matthew 17:18; Mark 9:20, 25-27; Luke 9:42; see Zechariah 3:2). The demon dares not disobey Jesus' order not to re-enter because it recognizes His authority over it.

From then on, the boy is free of the demon. Jesus takes the boy's hand and delivers him to his father, bringing calmness, peace, and order in place of the disruption that preceded the exorcism. His spiritual power to heal had overcome the demonic force that caused the boy to suffer.

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)

Mark 9:26

The demon "suddenly cries out." In Greek, the word suggests a loud croak, scream, or shriek. Such sounds are not dissimilar to the cacophonous noise of some modern "music" in which the singers scream and shriek jarringly, their amplifiers turned up all the way (see Amos 5:23). We can know whether a thing is good or bad by its fruit (Matthew 7:16), and prolonged exposure to such noises produces traumatized brains and damaged eardrums.

Otherwise, the demon's influence on the boy is to make him deaf and dumb (Mark 9:17, 25). In this context, "dumb" means that he could not speak coherently. Sin disables the sinner, making him unable to hear or speak the truth (John 8:43-44; II Thessalonians 2:9-12). It keeps the ear from hearing God's Word and causes the mouth to speak dishonorably of Him.

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


 




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