Luke 9:37-43 :
It happened on the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, that a great multitude met him. Behold, a man from the crowd called out, saying, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. Behold, a spirit takes him, he suddenly cries out, and it convulses him so that he foams, and it hardly departs from him, bruising him severely. I begged your disciples to cast it out, and they couldn’t.”
Jesus answered, “Faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.”
While he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him violently. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. They were all astonished at the majesty of God.
Passages like this provide strong evidence that these events actually occurred. You might be surprised about that if you are reading this from a culture that does not see supernatural activity. The way that this was written appears to pre-suppose that the reader already understand that people are commonly possessed by demons. Not only that, this story is not the kind of story the disciples would make up about themselves.
If someone were to fake a story, they would probably, at least, leave out details that might make them look bad. Here the disciples were heavily reprimanded by Jesus because they did not deal with the demon. He even asks: “how long shall I be with you and bear with you?” It sounds like the righteous Jesus was really suffering personally as He attempted to live a life of faith next to the faithless. If you feel like that now, be assured that Jesus knows what it is like. He can relate to you.
When I first read this I was wondering who Jesus was really talking to. I wasn’t sure if He was talking to the crowd, the father or to the disciples, but I see now that He was most likely talking about the disciples when He said this because I found out why the disciples couldn’t cast it out.
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately, and said, “Why weren’t we able to cast it out?”
He said to them, “Because of your unbelief. For most certainly I tell you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. But this kind doesn’t go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Jesus told them that even if you would have had a tiny little piece of faith, you would have been able to move a mountain. I think that in Luke where Jesus said that they were “Faithless” he meant it. They simply didn’t believe that God would do what He said even though we read in verse one that He “gave them power and authority over all demons.” When Jesus said all He meant all!
Here’s the point. When God says anything, it is to be immediately believed without any question or reservation. If we refuse to believe what God says, we can expect that things are not going to go well for us when we try to do His work. Going through the motions or having religious experiences will not work. Faith is absolutely required no matter what any person says and the Bible doesn’t give any room here:
Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.
Lastly, we read in Matthew that they should have not given up! This tells us something about faith in prayer. Sometimes God requires that we invest ourselves. Although it was easy for the Son of God to cast the demon out, God counted on common men to persist in their belief over time to get rid of this demon. Just because God doesn’t act right now, doesn’t mean that He wants us to stop asking. Since God values patience, persistence, and deep desire, he may require prayer and fasting sometimes. Had the disciples really believed that Jesus meant “all demons” they would have not doubted but continued to believe and to ask in prayer. Then Jesus would have seen them there praying instead of feeling like failures.
Perhaps the disciples began to believe that they were the ones doing the miracles. The reality is that it is only by faith in Jesus that we can do what He wants. We are all dependent on the power of God and when we fail to recognize this, we lose our strength.