Daily Devotions


Day 237

Ministry of the Disciples

Text: Matthew 17 : 14 - 21

Where were the other disciples while Jesus was up in the mountain praying? Peter, James and John were accounted for. They were with Jesus for special instruction. The rest of the disciples were supposed to minister on their own, while waiting for Jesus to return to them.

“And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him,
kneeling down to Him and saying, ‘Lord, have mercy on my son,
for he is an epileptic and suffers severely, for he often falls
into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him
to Your disciples but they could not cure him.’ ”
MATTHEW 17:14-16

The Plight of the Father with an Epileptic son

Who can imagine the sorrow of the father whose son suffered so much from epilepsy? In desperation he sought help from Jesus. But not finding Him, he went to seek out the disciples of Jesus, hoping that they would be able to help him. However, the disciples had not been able to help the poor boy! He continued to have his epileptic fits!

The Problem of Failure of the Disciples

Had not Jesus warned His disciples that their faith was weak? On at least three different occasions, Jesus had to rebuke His disciples concerning their lack of faith (Cf. Matthew 8:26 where fear dominated; Matthew 14:31 where doubt dominated; Matthew 16:8 where ignorance dominated).

Where faith counted most, faith in ministry, there was dismal failure! The disciples were unable to help. The epileptic boy continued to be ill. The father of the boy was driven to the point of sheer desperation. This failure did nothing for the reputation and good name of Jesus!


The father wisely persisted. He refused to give in to despair. His son’s life was too precious to yield to dismay! He waited for Jesus to appear and then approach Him for help. Could Jesus help where His disciples had failed? Doubts can go very deep and can be most damaging! (Cf. Mark 9:14-29 where the full extent of the unbelief of the father was described. Mark also noted that the boy was a mute)!

“Then Jesus answered and said,
‘O faithless and perverse generation,
how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?
Bring him here to Me.’ And Jesus rebuked the demon,
and it came out of him; and the child was cured
from that very hour.”
MATTHEW 17:17-18

1. A Problem Not Confined to the Disciples

Should the disciples bear the responsibility of failure to cure the boy from his epilepsy? They were blameworthy, but the blame must be shared. The problem on closer examination could be traced to something more sinister and deadly. Jesus had to address the problem of faithlessness and perversity in tones of severe rebuke!

The disciples, the father and others related – they were all blameworthy! The lack of faith, the strong presence of doubt and unbelief were so strong that Jesus had to rebuke everyone present for being “faithless and perverse”.

2. How long?

Deep inside His soul, Jesus longed for people to find faith in God! He had preached well, He had taught deeply – but why wasn’t there faith yet? He had healed, and He had even given power and authority to His disciples so that they could minister effectively! Yet, the problem of doubt and despair had not been resolved. The problem of unbelief continued to grow unchecked! How long would this problem be allowed to persist? How long did the people think that He would be with them on earth? Jesus knew that His time on earth was short and was thus even more concerned that so many had not dealt with the problem of unbelief more thoroughly!

3. The Majestic Power of Jesus manifested once again

The power of the demon had long troubled the little boy! From a very young age, the boy was afflicted! How merciless this demon was that he should victimize a little child! Relentlessly the demon afflicted the young lad! The efforts of the disciples seemed futile against this powerful demon!

When the boy was brought to Jesus, immediately, the demon inside him was addressed in the most commanding manner. Jesus brooked no nonsense from the demon. With tremendous authority Jesus rebuked the demon for tormenting the boy! He ordered him out of the boy! Instantly, the boy was cured! The authority of Jesus was never in question! No demon could resist the power of Jesus!


After the crowds had dispersed, the disciples gathered together and attempted a “post mortem” of their efforts to heal the boy.

“Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said,
‘Why could we not cast it out?’
So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief;
for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’
and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.'”
MATTHEW 17:19-21

The underlying problem for the failure of the disciples was made very plain! Unbelief was the opposite of faith! It was the root of many other problems!