Red Letter Year: 5/1

Matthew 17:14-27

14 They came to the crowd and a man came up to him, knelt and said, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into fire or into water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they did not have the power to heal him.”

17 Jesus answered, “What an unbelieving and misguided generation. How long am I going to be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, it came out of him, and the boy was healed right then.

19 Then the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?”

20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. I am telling you the truth, if you have faith like a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

22 They gathered in Galilee and Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be handed over to the people. 23 They will kill him and he will be raised on the third day.” And the disciples were very upset.

24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-coin tax came to Peter and asked him, “Does your teacher not pay the two-coin tax?”

25 He said, “Yes.” As he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first: “What do you think, Simon? The kings of the earth, who do they take tolls and taxes from? From their sons or from others?”

26 When he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 But, so as not to offend them, go to the sea, cast a line, and take the first fish you catch. Open its mouth and you will find a four-coin piece. Take and give that to them for me and you.”


We have all heard revivalists and faith healers pass off blame for a lack of healing on the sick person for not having enough faith. Some pastors go so far as to do little else besides drumming up positive thinking among people, all in an effort to raise a person’s faith to a level that will overcome their hardships. But this is not quite what Jesus says here and the difference is important. He does cite a lack of faith, not on the part of the boy or even his dad, but a lack of faith among his own disciples, the ones trying to cast out the demon. When was the last time you heard a pastor or speaker take the blame for a lack of healing: “Sorry folks, I just don’t have it tonight. My faith is down.” I don’t think that happens very often. But that is the clear implication here. The dad says in v.16 they did not have the power – the word there comes from dunamis (where we get dynamic, dynamo) and is also used for the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. That power comes to the one who believes in the Spirit’s power, the one who trusts that God will really do things like heal people and deliver them from demons. It’s not up to the sick or demonized person to believe, it’s up to those who would bring in the kingdom of God in power. Thankfully, God often gives us little exercises to grow us in faith and trust. They often involve something we are proficient at (Peter was a fisherman) used in a new way that reveals the “random” miraculous power of God. Be ready for those moments. Take the risk they bring and see what happens. Pretty soon you will be moving mountains.