Luke 9:37-43a (NIV) The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.”
“O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion.
But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.
Jesus, Peter, James, and John all came down from an amazing mountain-top experience in God’s presence, and found themselves squarely in the kingdom of the world.
The issue that challenged Jesus most in the situation that greeted Him there was not that a demon needed to be cast out; Jesus dealt with demon possession frequently. What disappointed, even alarmed Him, was that He and His followers were preparing to start for Jerusalem, where Jesus would be arrested and executed. Even though He would rise again, He would be headed home to heaven very shortly afterwards, leaving the responsibility for leading the people of the kingdom in the hands of these followers, who apparently weren’t able to handle a simple exorcism!
The anxious father had sought out Jesus’ camp at the foot of the mountain, and was disappointed to find that Jesus was not there, and His disciples weren’t sure when He would return. But the disciples were confident that they would be able to cast this demon out. They had done it before, when Jesus had sent them out ahead of Him (Luke 9:1-2). But no matter what words they used or what prayers they prayed, the spirit refused to budge.
That was when Jesus suddenly walked into the camp. His frustrated cry, “O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?” was aimed at the disciples, His inner circle, who seemingly had failed to learn this important lesson.
But Jesus quickly turned from the shame-faced disciples to the need at hand. As soon as He focused on the demon-possessed boy, the demon, in a show of power designed to intimidate Jesus just as it had the disciples, threw the boy into a spectacular and alarming convulsion. But Jesus wasn’t intimidated in the least. He simply rebuked the demon, told it to leave, and it had to go.
The small crowd there along with the disciples was stunned at how quickly and effortlessly Jesus had dealt with the demon, and immediately began to praise the Lord. Jesus simply gave the boy, free at last from the demon that had plagued him for years, back to his grateful father.
Father, we so complicate things, and try to impose our own ideas, techniques, and strategies on them. The disciples failed to learn that casting out demons was never a matter of technique, but of God-given spiritual authority over them. Jesus simply exercised His authority, and the demon fled. As a follower of Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, I have that same authority. Help me to live in You, obey Your leading and, when appropriate, exert that authority to help set people free. Amen.