Summary: Jesus exorcises a demon, even as he reprimands the disciples for their failure to trust the one to whom their prayers ought to have been offered.

The Power of Prayer

Jeffery Anselmi / General

The Power of the Gospel / Prayer; Power / Matthew 17:14–20

Jesus exorcises a demon, even as he reprimands the disciples for their failure to trust the one to whom their prayers ought to have been offered.


• Today we will come across a situation that I have never seen before. However, some parents claim when their children turn into teenagers, they have experienced the situation we will see in our text today!

• As we have been working through our Power of the Gospel series, we have been looking at the various areas in which Jesus has supremacy.

• Spoiler alert, Jesus has power over everything!

• Since Jesus has power overall, the Gospel is powerful!

• Again, Jesus demonstrates his power, this time in the act of exorcism.

• In contrast to other demonstrations of Jesus’s power, this episode places full emphasis on the inability of his disciples to accomplish the same decisive healing.

• In fact, the disciples' inability to cure the boy’s seizures is repeated three times—first by the father, then by the disciples themselves, and finally by Jesus.

• The nine disciples who tried to exorcise the demon from the child had been doing this type of thing for a while, yet when it came to the situation we will examine today, they failed.

• They failed because they forgot to exercise a powerful weapon they possessed; that is the weapon we will explore today.

• The Big Idea of the Message: Jesus exorcises a demon, even as he reprimands the disciples for their failure to trust the one to whom their prayers ought to have been offered.

• As we examine the disciples' failure, we can learn from them so we do not fail.

• Let’s turn to Matthew 17:14-16 to begin this morning.

Matthew 17:14–16 CSB

14 When they reached the crowd, a man approached and knelt down before him.

15 “Lord,” he said, “have mercy on my son, because he has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire and often into the water.

16 I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.”


I. Praying to the right source.

• Put yourself in the position of this father. His son has been having terrible seizures his entire life.

• With the seizures, the boy loses total control of himself to the point of physical harm taking place.

• This boy has been falling into the fire; he has fallen into the water, and no telling what other harmful things have been happening to him.

• Much like the events we studied last week, particularly concerning the woman who had been bleeding for many years, I have to think the family of this boy had spent a great deal of time and money seeking treatment for his condition.

• We talked a little last week about the concept of going to the right place for help.

• We understand this concept because usually if we have a heart issue, we do not set up an appointment with a foot doctor, we go to the heart doctor, and depending on our issue, we would go to a specific type of heart doctor.

• Now for some context to what had just happened before Jesus and Peter, James, and John came down from the mountain after a day or so.

• This event follows immediately on the description of Jesus’s transfiguration.

• The transfiguration is a spectacular demonstration of Jesus’s authority over nature: “his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light,” and Moses and Elijah appear next to him, speaking with him (Matthew 17:1–3).

• What’s more, God speaks to all who are present, as he did at Jesus’s baptism. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (17:5).

• Could there be any more impressive display of divine authority?

• Jesus has left all but Peter, James, and John at the base of the mountain. It’s to these men that they return to find “the misery of the human condition” (Eugene Boring, The Gospel of Matthew, The New Interpreter’s Bible 8 [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995], 367).

• In verse 16, the father said he had taken his son to the disciples for them to heal the boy.

• They could not get the job done. Look at Matthew 10:1.

Matthew 10:1 CSB

1 Summoning his twelve disciples, he gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out and to heal every disease and sickness.

• For reasons we will look at in a bit, the nine disciples were not the right place to go for healing.

• We have to pray to the right source when we pray.

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