This Week's Focus Passage

‘Lord, have mercy on my son.‘

Focus Passage: Matthew 17:15

‘Lord, have mercy on my son.‘

During the time that Jesus was upon the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter and James, and John being with him, the remainder of the Twelve were evidently among the multitude ‘down from the mountain.’ In the time of the Savior’s absence, a man had brought unto the disciples his son hoping that they would be able to cure the lad of his epilepsy. But as this father later told Jesus, they were not able to accomplish any removal of this terrible disease. Matthew has provided us with the account of the father pleading with the Lord for a cure.

There came to him a man, kneeling to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on ‘my son: for he is epileptic, and suffereth grievously; for oftimes he falleth into the fire, and oftimes into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

As we remember the words of Jesus to a leper with a similar plea, acknowledging that he knew that if Jesus were willing, He could cure him of his leprosy, we imagine the faith of this father saying, perhaps only unto himself, ‘if he be willing, he can cure my son of this epilepsy.’ As the account continues, we discover, that indeed, Jesus was willing to cure the epileptic son. After He had rebuked His hearers, perhaps the rebuke was intended only for his immediate disciples, for their ‘little faith,’ He turned his attention to the needs of the child, and spoke to the demon inside the boy, and the demon obeyed spontaneously, going out from him, and the boy was cured from that hour.

This may raise the question to ourselves as to our faith. Is our faith also a ‘little faith’ such as elicited a rebuke from Christ to His disciples? Must we not confess that we, like the father of the lad in this history of a miracle, have cried out unto God for our children that the demons of unbelief would be cast out from them? Perhaps our prayers have extended beyond our immediate family unto siblings, or parents, or even grandparents. We have continued for years praying daily that God the Father would send God the Holy Spirit to regenerate the hearts of our kinsmen according to the flesh, especially our children. Why is it that we have seen no sign of any such movement among them? Has the Lord not heard our cries? Have we not been frequent enough in our pleading with Him? Have we not been fervent enough in our pleading? What is lacking? The account of the epileptic, his father’s cries, and the helplessness of the disciples, may give us somewhat of an answer. When we read this story, does it cause us to inquire of ourselves, ‘are we among those of this little faith?’ The disciples, in another place, themselves cried unto the Savior, ‘Lord, Increase our faith,’ Luke 17:5. Mark has told us in a parallel account, that Christ told the father of the epileptic, ‘if thou believeth, all things are possible.’ This is the place of the famous—I used the expression ‘famous’ with some reservation—but the famous utterance of this man, spoken with tears, ‘Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief!’

Surely, many of us have prayed with tears in our eyes; we might even say with tears in our hearts, for the salvation of loved ones. Surely, we have likely been very constant in our coming to the throne of grace with our pleas, and most certainly, we have been as sincere as we possibly could be that the Lord would grant a miracle of grace for these loved ones. But how often have we cried out, ‘Lord, increase my faith’? How many times have we pleaded, ‘Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief’? Are we truly praying expectantly; do we really expect that the phone will ring and it will be our loved one calling to say, ‘Guess what the Lord has done in my heart; let me tell you how that all things have become new in my life.’ When we hear the telephone ring, is it actually very often that we anticipate such a revelation to be given us? Jesus went on to tell his disciples that if their faith were even as great as a grain of mustard seed they would be able to move mountains by their prayers. Perhaps we are not as believing as we may think ourselves to be. That in itself is great cause to cry, ‘Lord, help my unbelief.’ Jesus has given us many exhortations and promises to heed in our ongoing struggle. The first thing that we must do is to admit that the strength of our faith is not what we could wish that it were. We are like the man in the burning house with the key to the door in his vest pocket. He is not so troubled because he imagines that he can simply open the door when the flames come too near. But let that man be in the burning building with no key and see how differently he behaves. He will begin to cry out for a key, will he not? That is what we should be doing about our faith, crying out for it to be increased mightily. Perhaps then our prayers might open doors that have remained closed for so long a time.

Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do what is done to the fig tree, but even if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou taken up and cast into the sea, it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, BELIEVING, ye shall receive.

Are we, many of us, ‘doubting Thomas’s’? Remember then what was told that doubting disciple in John 20:27, ‘be not faithless, but believing.’ By God’s grace we are not unbelieving, but how great is our believing; how great is our faith. And if we know that it is a ‘little faith,’ why are we not pleading for greater faith? Ask, and ye shall receive is the promise of the Lord to us. Let us begin by believing that truth. Paul contributed to this theme in his wonderful epistle to the church at Rome. Among the multitude of helpful things that this great apostle pointed out to us, is found his beautiful prayer for his readers; that includes us. Paul prayed for us in the following words, ‘Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.’

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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