Summary: Christ’s answer to the disciples question about their inability to cast the demon out of a boy teaches you how to understand and overcome your problems.
Matthew 17:14-21 (NLT) When they arrived at the foot of the mountain, [this incident occurs right after Jesus and three of his apostles descended the Mount of Transfiguration] a huge crowd was waiting for them. A man came and knelt before Jesus and said, 15 "Lord, have mercy on my son, because he has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 So I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him."
17 Jesus replied, "You stubborn, faithless people! How long must I be with you until you believe? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me." 18 Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy, and it left him. From that moment the boy was well.
19 Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, "WHY COULDN’T WE CAST OUT THE DEMON?"
20 "You didn’t have enough faith," Jesus told them. "I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible."
21 "But this kind of demon won’t leave unless you have prayed and fasted."
We’re in the series dealing with the questions people asked Jesus. [The first four messages were delivered in March of 2003.] People asked Jesus questions because it was very apparent that He had answers! His preaching, teaching and miracle working ministry proved that He was not just an ordinary spiritual leader. His compassion made Him approachable. His wisdom and power made Him wonderful!
Problems are one of the things that make you hungrier to know God. They motivate you to seek His face.
You may have a problem as a parent, like this father – you’re concerned about something adversely affecting your child. You may have a problem in your personal life – like this young man who was being exploited by an evil spirit, which led to serious health problems. You may have a problem at work or a problem in a relationship. Someone may be difficult to get along with. You may face financial difficulties or emotional difficulties.
Whatever your problem, Christ offers all that you need - wisdom to understand your problems, power to overcome them, and love to help you get through them!
This week’s Scripture deals particularly with how to obtain the wisdom and power you need to understand and overcome your problems.
How can I understand and overcome my problems?
The apostles weren’t able to help this father and son with their problem. They thought they could - but as it turned out, they were powerless. So when they got Jesus off to Himself they asked Him, "Why couldn’t we do it? You did it – but we were ineffective. We tried everything that we knew how to do - but we failed. Why did we fail?"
You can sense in their question a certain level of frustration, discouragement and embarrassment.
Facing difficult obstacles in life without solutions can really demoralize you.
That’s why the answer to this question is very important. You need to know how to overcome your problems instead of letting your problems overcome you. And Christ’s answer to this question of His apostles tells you why you fail and how you can succeed.
Three Ways to Overcome Your Problems
1. Use the faith you have, even if it’s small.
Mt. 17:20 (NLT) "You didn’t have enough faith," Jesus told them. "I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible."
Jesus wasn’t trying to provoke them to further discouragement. He was trying to instruct and encourage them. This was a learning opportunity. Life’s obstacles provide great possibilities for your growth. He was giving them a great key to understanding. And what was that key?
Increase the use of your faith. Even if your faith is small – put whatever faith you have to use and see God respond by doing the impossible in your life!
Grasping and applying this truth is one of the most valuable elements of the Christian experience. If you don’t put your faith to use – you lack the ability to understand and overcome your problems.
The disciples had faith - but it was dormant.
We know the disciples had enough faith to cast demons out of people. Jesus had previously given them the ability to do so.
Matthew 10:1 (CEV) Jesus called together the twelve disciples. He gave them the power to force out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease.
In another instance, Christ had given even a larger group of His disciples authority over demons.
Luke 10:17 (NIV) The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name."