June 5, 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).
From the parallel passages in Mark 9:14-29 and Luke 9:37-43 we learn of the severity of the boy’s condition resulting from demon possession: he was deaf and mute, he had violent seizures, convulsions, foaming at the mouth, grinding of the teeth, uncontrollable physical actions that threw him to the ground, into the fire, into water, contorting his body muscles, causing him to shriek and scream. Demonic possession is no trifling matter. It is evil and does evil to anyone who has yielded to the power of the devil.
The father begged Jesus for mercy, no doubt having found sympathy from others but no cure from anyone. By calling Jesus ‘Lord’, we should understand that the man recognized the power and authority of Jesus as a Man of God, whether or not he believed Jesus was the Son of God. The reputation of Jesus as a miracle worker and healer of people with all types of maladies, including demon possession, brought this man to Jesus as his last and only hope.
I find it often true that there are people in our families, neighborhoods, and circles of influence who have heard about Jesus, even know quite a bit about Jesus, but believe they have no need for Jesus in their life - until something serious happens. It is then they will ask for help from the Lord. I used to take offense at this believing such people were like the Jews in the Gospels. They will have nothing to do with Jesus until they need something from Him. I don’t take offense at this now.
I have come to understand that many people will not come to Jesus unless and until something happens that is beyond their control. They cry out to the Lord for help, which in turn opens the door for the Lord to minister in their lives. I have known many people who have come to faith in Jesus Christ as the result of a crisis in their life or in the life of someone they love.
The father of the demon possessed boy cried out to Jesus for mercy. Mercy is the expression of sympathy and compassion. Sympathy and compassion are expressions of love. People need sympathy and compassion. We live in a world that is hard and harsh; people have become hardened to the real needs of others. Sympathy is fast becoming cold and indifferent. Compassion is often reserved for those close to us. Hal David was right when he wrote, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love - it's the only thing that there's just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love - no not just for some, but for everyone.” Only Jesus can give us the love and compassion our soul and spirit truly long for.
“Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your great love and compassion for us. Thank You that Your love is not confined to words, but is always active in drawing people to You, ministering to them, transforming them from cold and hard and indifferent people into people who are Christ-like, compassionate and caring. May You be praised for Your great mercy toward us. Amen.”