38 A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. 40 I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.” 41 “O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” 42 Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. (Luke 9)
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This story from Luke is interesting for several reasons. First, we find demon possession in a child. The modern day world would rather not believe in the spirit world, but it is a fact that our physical world interacts with the spiritual world constantly. The Bible teaches us about evil spirits that take control of a person, but only when the person dabbles in the spirit world and either knowingly or unknowingly invites evil spirits into him. The will of man is supreme in all things- be it inviting God or evil spirits into him. But how does demon possession occur in a child?
A child is characterized by innocence. It is of paramount importance to guard the input that a child receives in his life as he grows up to being an adult. The Bible does suggest that children have angels accompany them (Matthew 18:10). This ensures that most children will grow up without being subject to any overwhelming evil input. However when parents or guardians play host to evil spirits, live an evil life, rejecting God or entertain evil spirits by dabbling in the demonic, children can be subject to being influenced or possessed by evil spirits. It is tragic that a child, who probably had no decision to make in that process ends up being the victim, but we would do well to recognize that we live in fallen world where the decisions of one can adversely affect the other.
Jesus’ response to the inability of the disciples to heal the child is also surprising. While we would naturally think that it would have been hard to drive this demon out, Jesus’ reply indicates that he expected the disciples to be able to heal the boy. The disconnect between what ought to be and what is, is prominent and surprising. Understanding the spiritual world, recognizing the primacy of faith in controlling not only the spiritual but also the physical world and the need to exercise spiritual authority to live life in the realm of the miraculous is by far a stretch for most, but an expectation of God for his followers. A life bereft of faith is no Christian life at all.
Jesus goes on to explain why the disciples could not heal the boy. In Matthew, he mentions lack of faith and in the gospel of Mark he talks about the need for prayer. These are two sides of the same coin and help a person navigate through the spiritual realm with authority. Faith is being sure of what we do not see, but made real through the Word, and living our lives and taking daily decisions on the basis of that certainty. Prayer is connecting with God who rules the heavens and earth and learning to walk in step with Him.
When Jesus looks at our present day life, what would his response be? Would it be one of frustration or that of approval?
- THE HEART
- TRAINING FOR GODLINESS