Summary: Whether the boy was a lunatic or suffered from epilepsy is not really the issue. Fact of the matter is the Church suffered from a seizure of unbelief that cripples the ministry of Christ.
Before we talk about our text this evening we need to first ask ourselves do we truly, honestly, sincerely, want to see our Lord’s return. I ask because the Bible gives us four things that must occur before the Second Coming of Christ and they are all within our scope of responsibility and are contingent, as the Body of Christ, upon our cooperation with the Head, Jesus Christ. God has placed that Blessed Hope within our reach if we would but develop some faith.
I want you to know that the Word of God emphatically, explicitly, mentions those four events by name, and it does not need any theological dissertation or scrutinizing in order for us to know what those four things are. One of those four events has brought me here to you—His little lambs. I will follow no precise order in giving you the list because I believe that they will be fulfilled simultaneously.
The first thing that needs to happen before Jesus can take us home is found in Matthew 24:14.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
What’s the first thing that must occur before Christ returns? The Gospel, a particular gospel, because He said and THIS gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations and then shall the end come. Knowing that the word this is a demonstrative pronoun [demonstrative pronouns are employed for spatial deixis (dîk’ sĭs) (using the context of the physical surroundings of the speaker and sometimes the listener) and for discourse deixis (including abstract concepts) where the meaning is dependent on something other than the relative physical location of the speaker, for example whether something is currently been said or was said earlier.], the Gospel then becomes more than the story of the Cross but also all of the things that Jesus said just prior to verse 14 and in Revelation 14:6-12. With all the technology that man has produced, how much time do you think we have before the Gospel is preached to the entire world?
The second and third factors related to the Second Coming are found in the same text. Paul is giving the Church at Thessalonica an admonition regarding the Second Coming in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, 7.
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
Did you catch two and three? He said their must be a “falling away first” (apostasy) and the man of sin or the anti-Christ has to be revealed. There is to be a widespread apostasy against the truth of God’s Word and it has happened and is happening right now because of the third factor the man of sin or Antichrist! Can the Church identify the man of sin? Do you know who the antichrist is? Paul recognized the power of antichrist in verse 7 he said that the power was trying to get itself off of the ground but something was hindering it from rising to power. Well then it will be unfair for Jesus to return and you and I lost because we didn’t know these factors after all it was God that told the prophet Hosea,
6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. Hosea 4:6
The fourth and final event as I have stated is why I am here to talk with you. It is found in our main text in Matthew 17:1-21. There is so much here to digest so I would like for us to begin reading at verse 10 and conclude in verse 21. Now going back to verses 10-13 we find our final reason, but to understand the point of reference regarding the question of the disciples we need to go to Malachi 4:5, 6.
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.