Today’s Reading: Matthew 17:1-20, 18:6-10; Mark 9:2-29, 42-50; Luke 9:28-43a
Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus. – Mark 9:2-4
WOW! What an experience for these three disciples. They were chosen by Jesus for this moment in history and they watched. They paid attention and experienced God!
Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” – Mark 9:7
Pay attention. Listen. You have been chosen for this moment and for the rest of your life. The disciples were not the only people paying attention, anticipating what Jesus might do next.
At the foot of the mountain, a large crowd was waiting for them. A man came and knelt before Jesus and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. So I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.” – Matthew 17:14-16
My heart breaks for this father. Can you picture it? Start with a beautiful mountain and a crowd of people waiting in anticipation to hear from Jesus. A man comes and surrenders himself to Jesus by falling to his knees. He pleads for the life of his son. He has tried to receive help from Jesus’ followers but their lack of faith has left him disappointed, so he goes directly to Jesus for help.
As a parent, it is painful to consider what this man must be feeling. His son is sick and there’s nothing he can do to help him – nothing but fall on his knees before the one man who he believes can free his son from this illness that takes over his body. If the boy has often fallen into the fire or water, as the scripture says, his parents have rescued him and saved his life time after time. Imagine the burns that they have had to treat or the water they have had to push out of his lungs in order to keep him alive. They know they have done all they can do and what they now need is divine intervention.
This father is much like others we have watched fall on their knees before God and beg for the healing of a family member. Watching their loved one suffer feels much like “going through the fire”. Ever felt like you were drowning? Stress and pressure from life’s circumstances pile up around you and make it hard for you to breath. “I’m drowning here, Lord! Please save me!” Hear the desperation of a believer in Jesus crying out to be rescued – crying out for healing, begging for escape.
Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” – Matthew 14:17
“Bring the boy here to me.” Can you hear it? It’s the HOPE of a father as he runs to get his son. I imagine the words of Jesus were still ringing in his ears and bouncing around his heart as he returned to Jesus with his precious son.
Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy, and it left him. From that moment the boy was well.
Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?”
“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” – Matthew 17:17-20
Oh, give us a stronger faith, Lord! Strengthen the faith of your Church and your followers. May we humbly fall on our knees before you, believing that nothing is impossible for you. May we empty ourselves of any thoughts that we are capable of helping others without you.
FIRE & WATER – What kind of fire is life throwing you into? What situations or circumstances are you drowning in? Let’s shift thoughts here and consider how often the fire and water are simply the result of our own sinful decisions. There are times when the fire and water in our life are undeserved and times when they are the natural consequences of our own arrogance and selfishness.
After healing the boy, Jesus spoke of fire and water in the context of punishment or consequences for our sins.
About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”
Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.
“But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.
“What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting. So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut if off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into the eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.” – Matthew 18:1-10
Precious Father, may our hands and feet be your instruments today. May we be expressions of your love to those around us. Empty us of any arrogance or thoughts of what WE can accomplish so that we can humbly kneel before you and believe in faith that today YOU will do great and miraculous things among us! May our faith help others to find you and may we never do anything that would cause someone else to stumble in their journey to you. We pray all of this in your precious and holy name, Amen.