A Frantic Father
June 4, 2021
When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water” (Matthew 17:14-15).
Who among us is not be broken-hearted over a child that suffered mercilessly from a condition that rendered him/her totally helpless? There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people who suffer mental, physical, or emotional problems that are completely debilitating. Some of them are the result of not taking better care of themselves, exposing themselves to the devastation of drug addiction, alcoholism, chemical exposure, etc. Others are the result of abuse, torture, etc. Still others are the result of genetics run amok. Never-the-less, our hearts are moved by their condition. But what really tears at the heart of most people are the children who suffer from mental, emotional, or physical problems. It seems so unfair to them, and it is.
The father of the boy said his son was a ‘lunatic’, one who is ‘moonstruck’, a term used in ancient times to refer to people who have a mental illness or madness caused by the influence of the moon. This was, and is mere superstition. There is no legitimate or acceptable research indicating people are mentally affected by the moon.
The father also said his son was ‘very ill’, a term indicating that his condition was very serious. Not understanding the total effects of demon possession, the father knew his son was in danger of being burned to death, drowned, or suffering some other calamity that would kill him. No doubt the father did what any father would do in taking his son to doctors, faith healers, shamans, priests, even sorcerers to find a cure for his boy. Jesus and His disciples were in the area, but Jesus was unavailable, so the man brought his son to the disciples. They were not able to help the boy, so the father waited for Jesus to arrive.
We should not be critical of people who will go to great lengths to help their children, especially those adults who have no religious or spiritual connection to Jesus. Parents do what parents must do (or should do) to provide for the welfare and well-being of their children. And sometimes these adults will bring these suffering souls to those who have some connection with Jesus. ‘Desperate circumstances call for desperate measures’ as the saying goes. The tragedy is the result of some of those ‘desperate measures’ especially when these suffering individuals are brought to the Christian community and nothing can be done because of the spiritual condition of that community. We’ll get to that later.
“Father, our spirit is burdened by the lives that are destroyed because we live in a sin saturated world. We understand the effects of sin all around us, but it seems some people suffer to a greater degree than others and it’s not because of anything they have done. Give us a heart of compassion for those inside and outside the church who suffer. Help us to bring them again and again to Jesus rather than to give them platitudes that have little effect. May we come before You on our knees for the suffering souls like this father did for his son. To Your praise and glory I ask, Amen.”