Daily Word

One little word | Matthew 17:14-18

14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, 15 said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he has seizures and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon,[ b ] and it[ c ] came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly.[ d ]

Matthew 17:14-18 (ESV)

New kind of normal

As soon as they get to the bottom of the mountain where the transfiguration just occurred, they find the other disciples with a crowd (Mark 9:14). They move from a “mountain-top” spiritual experience back into the daily experience of a disciple of Jesus, which was often a bit messy. Yet I have to think that for the three, James, John, and Peter, after such an experience, this was a new kind of normal.

Difference in gospels

Mark 9:14-29 has a more detailed recounting of this incident. We may wonder, why would they be different? Some accounts of events between the 4 gospels even seem contrary. One simple explanation is based on the witness phenomena. Why do courts like to have more witnesses? In fact, God’s laws for Israel require at least two witnesses. Each witness sees and perceives the same event with a different perspective – physically and also emotionally. So they recount an incident a bit differently. Similarly with the gospels.

One little word

The man approaches Jesus and petitions on behalf of his son for Jesus to help. In the Mark account, the man gives more detail (like he is dumb and mute) and asks Jesus, “if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” (Mark 9:22) A few observations:

  • Disciples couldn’t heal him. Jesus had empowered them to cast out demons earlier (Matthew 10:5-8, Luke 10:17). But this one was special maybe. Or maybe they didn’t recognize this was demon possession. Surely after so many miracles, their faith had to be increasing to now.
  • Jesus speaks to the generation, not just the disciples. “Jesus’ rebuke recalls Moses’ words to Israel in Deuteronomy 32:5 and 20. Unbelief characterized the generation of Jews that had rejected Jesus, and now it marked the multitude that followed Him to a lesser extent. Their failure to believe stemmed from moral failure to recognize the truth, rather than from lack of evidence”. (planobiblechapel.org)
  • Jesus spoke the word and the demon was cast out – immediately. [Again the Mark account adds additional detail Mark 9:14-29.] Jesus has the power. As Luther wrote in the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” “one little word shall fell him”, that is, Satan. 


  • Are you amazed by the power of our Lord? He rebuked the demon and it came out. He spoke creation into existence (John 1:1-3). How do you respond to this?
  • What about casting out demons? Is this something we should be doing? Does it happen today? Consider this article for more on the topic.
A might Fortress is our God

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