You cannot help but feel for the poor disciples sometimes.
Jesus had gone up the mountain where he had been transfigured.
Only Peter, James and John had seen this, but in the meantime, the
other disciples were struggling with a boy who was suffering from
severe seizures. They must have been surprised by their inability to
drive out the evil that was causing this, because they had been sent
out by Jesus before and had been successful in such situations. But,
this time, nothing seemed to be working.
Then Jesus returned, and brought the hoped-for healing. When the
disciples asked him why they had been unsuccessful, he told them
that they didn’t have enough faith. In the church, this statement has
sometimes been leveled at people who are suffering when socalled “healers” have failed to cure them.
But this is a misuse of
Jesus’ words. Note, he doesn’t challenge the faith of either the boy
or the father, but of his own disciples. And then Jesus tells them that
faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. I doubt Jesus
meant for this to be understood literally and dramatically. Rather, it
would have been meant rather like the old saying: “How do you
move a mountain? One stone at a time!” It takes faith to stay
committed to those who are suffering, especially when it doesn’t
seem to be making any difference. That’s why some manuscripts
include the last remark that “this kind of demon can only be cast
out by prayer and fasting.” Prayer and fasting require commitment,
patience and the confidence that change can happen. Perhaps if
the disciples had been just a little more patient their efforts would
have borne fruit. How about you?