Matthew 17:14-16 (Jesus Heals a Lunatic, Part 1)

When Jesus, Peter, James and John returned to the other disciples from the Mount of Transfiguration who met them?  See Luk 9:37.  Why had such a large crowd been gathered together around the other disciples?  See Luk 9:38-40.  Besides the spectacle of the demon-possessed boy, how might the inability of the disciples’ to cast it out have added to the attraction?  See Mar 9:14 and think: what would the scribes have been arguing about with the disciples in this context?  See also Mar 9:16-18.  Imagine a similar context today in which a group of religious “nuts” was trying unsuccessfully to cast a demon out of someone who was “mentally ill” or had gotten off his “meds” and was having an “epileptic fit”; how might the religious leaders of our own day have argued with the “nuts” in such a circumstance?

What does Mark say happened when Jesus arrived?  See Mar 9:15.  What does he mean that the crowd was “amazed” when they saw Jesus?  See Mar 14:33, 16:5-6 for the only other NT occurrences of the Greek word used, and note that its word family always carries some connotation of fear or distress; it is perhaps better understood as “alarmed”, “startled”, or “awed”.  Why might the crowd have been “amazed” in such a way when they saw Jesus?  Consider from where He had just returned and cf. Exo 34:30-32.  See also “greatness” in Luk 9:43a: this rare word means “majesty” (see text note) but is also found in 2Pe 1:16 where it refers to the majesty of Christ observed on the Mount of Transfiguration.

What does Luke record about the demon possessed boy that made the father’s plea all the more urgent?  See Luk 9:38; cf. Luk 7:12 and 8:42.  Why was a person’s grief all the worse when calamity afflicted an only child?  See 1Ti 5:3-4,8.  As important as parents are to a child, what does this teach us about how important children are to parents?  Many people today are estranged from their children while others have forsaken having children altogether in order to further their careers and find more fulfillment in the world; in consequence they have called upon the welfare state to provide care for the elderly that was traditionally provided by the family.  What is the danger of looking to the state to provide such care?  Think: does an impersonal government bureaucracy, especially if it becomes bankrupt, have the same care and concern for one’s personal well-being as does a family member?  From an economic perspective, which of these, the family or the government, is the most efficient and effective in providing care for the elderly, and which is the least efficient and effective?  What does this teach us about the importance of strong family relationships for the economic well-being of a nation?  Will God’s immutable laws allow any nation to be stronger than the families that compose it?  What does this teach us about one of the foundational reasons for many of the problems now facing our nation?  What does it teach us about why the family and marriage is such a strategic target in the spiritual war we face against Satan and the powers of darkness?  Cf. the example of Balak, Balaam, and the Baal of Peor in Num 22-25.  Observe that since Balaam could not curse the Israelites as Balak desired because they were blessed by God, out of greed for the money he could earn he counseled Balak to lead them into immorality so that God Himself would curse them (see Num 31:15-16, Rev 2:14, 2Pe 2:15); how is this like what has happened in America?

How does Matthew describe the boy’s affliction?  See Mat 17:15.  What is a lunatic?  Note: the Greek word used means “moonstruck” and refers to what we today call epileptics or those who have seizures; see Mat 4:24 where the same word is translated as epileptic.  What does “very ill” in Mat 17:15 communicate about the understanding at that time that reflects our modern view of epilepsy as a sickness?  How do Mark and Luke describe the boy’s affliction?  See Mar 9:17-18,20-22, Luk 9:39,42.  Does their description reflect our modern view that afflictions like epilepsy are purely physical?  See also Mat 17:18.  In this regard, why is Luke’s description particularly significant?  See Col 4:14.  Is it possible that there is a spiritual dimension to the physical afflictions people experience today but of which we are for the most part ignorant because of the materialistic worldview that permeates our culture?  Cf. Psa 107:17-20.  See also Mat 10:1 and observe that the Greek words used there clearly communicate that the disciples’ ability to both cast out demons and heal diseases was in consequence of the authority they were given over unclean spirits.

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