by Dr. Samuel Lee   05/01/2000     0 reads



Matthew 17:14-23

Key Verse: 17:17

  "O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long

shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?  Bring

the boy here to me."


1. Review what had happened on the mountain and on the way down the

mountain. What was Jesus trying to teach his top three disciples?

2. Read verses 14-16. What were the other nine disciples doing at the

foot of the mountain? Why did a man come to Jesus begging his mercy?

Describe the symptoms of his son. What made matters worse?

3. Read verses 17-19. What did Jesus say and do? Why did he call that

generation unbelieving and perverse? How about our generation?

4. What did the disciples ask? (19) According to Jesus, what was their

real problem? (20) What did Jesus teach them about the power of

faith? How can we have such faith?

5. What did Jesus again teach his disciples when they came together in

Galilee? How was their reaction different this time?





Matthew 17:14-23

Key Verse: 17:17


  "O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long

shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?  Bring

the boy here to me."


In the last passage Jesus took Peter, James and John to the

Transfiguration Mountain. Jesus showed them his transfigured

appearance. 17:2 says, "There he was transfigured before them. His face

shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light." His

figure immediately showed them that he was originally God. But he came

to this world and was despised and rejected, and he wore ordinary

people's clothes, old and rugged. Jesus took the disciples to the

Transfiguration Mountain so that they might prepare for his upcoming

death and resurrection without fear, but with courageous faith. It is

indeed amazing to see Jesus' transfigured appearance on the

Transfiguration Mountain. It is indeed amazing that later the apostle

John in exile described his image. Revelation 1:14-16 says, "His head

and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like

blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his

voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held

seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His

face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance." Jesus'

transfiguration was also for the purpose of meeting the suffering

servants, Moses and Elijah, so that Jesus might prepare himself for his

upcoming crucifixion, death and resurrection. In today's passage Jesus

heals a demon-possessed boy. Matthew's account of this event is

different from the other Gospels in description and wording, but the

main point is the same. Today let's learn what the unbelieving

generation is like and how to cast out demons.


First, the boy's father (14-16). When Jesus, together with Peter, James

and John, came down to the foot of the mountain where the other nine

disciples were waiting, a great and baffling event was taking place. As

soon as Jesus and his three disciples arrived, a man approached Jesus,

knelt before him, and beseeched Jesus, "Lord, have mercy on my son. He

has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or

into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not

heal him" (15-16).  This father was at a loss because his son was doing

dangerous things. To him, it was sure that his son was having seizures.

So he brought his son to Jesus' disciples, but they could not heal



Through the experience of the evangelistic journey (Mk 6:7-13),

Jesus' nine disciples were very sure that they could heal this boy, who

was violently throwing himself into the fire and the water. It was

because they had great experiences by driving out many demons and

anointing many sick people with oil and healing them. They had healed

many people. So they thought this one little boy would be no problem to

heal. According to the other Gospels, some Pharisees and the desperate

father were intently watching for the boy to be healed. At the moment,

one of the disciples struck a pose, made a gesture and shouted, "Boy,

you get well immediately!" But his condition was just the same. Several

other disciples did the same. But the boy was not healed. At that time

Jesus was coming down the Transfiguration Mountain. The boy's father

met Jesus and told him the truth about what had happened. "Lord, have

mercy on my son," he said.  "He has seizures and is suffering greatly.

He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your

disciples, but they could not heal him." Jesus' disciples had cast out

many demons and had healed the sick when God gave them the power of the

Holy Spirit during their evangelistic journey. But this time they had

no power of the Holy Spirit. So they became the objects of ridicule.

They were greatly embarrassed. They learned that old experience doesn't

work newly. Modern people would see such a boy as a psychiatric patient

and take him to a mental clinic, give him heavy doses of drugs and make

him worse, not better. What was the boy's real problem? It was demon



There was a pretty young woman, a born-pianist. If she practiced

piano hard, she might have been a contestant at the Tchaikovsky piano

competition in Moscow. So in the hope of raising her as our Chicago

pianist, we applied for her permanent residency. Soon she received

permanent residency. Then we came to know that she was going to a young

boy's house, and had slept with the boy for almost one year. Not only

so, she also cooked many other boys. We thought that we could help her.

So many shepherds, especially Pastor Mark Vucekovich, worked hard. But

she could not leave the boy alone. She stuck to him like a rat sticks

to flypaper.  After much pain, we sent her to her home country, where

her father was.  There was a UBF full-time staff shepherd. His ministry

was prosperous. But he was seized by a foxy woman and only listened to

the lady; he refused to listen to his senior shepherd. We could not

believe how he could do that. Soon his ministry crumbled and

disappeared. In 1982 a 19-year-old country boy came to Chicago UBF. He

looked as if he had some problem.  So a shepherd asked him, "What's

your problem?" He answered, "I have a great marriage problem."

Everybody was surprised that he had a great marriage problem and was so

heavy when he was just 19 years old. His desire was too mean; he could

not be a young man of vision and dream.  It was not the 19-year-old boy

who talked about his great marriage problem, but obviously the demon in

him. Many young people do things that they could not even imagine

doing. A great question arises in our hearts: Why? They are not

themselves; they are possessed by demons.


Second, Jesus rebuked the unbelieving generation (17-18). When Jesus

saw the generation, he saw that the people were all unbelieving.

History proves that there were unbelieving generations and there were

believing generations. Believing generations were blessed by God, and

unbelieving generations seemed to be cursed by God.


"In God We Trust" was once in American people's hearts. "In God We

Trust" enabled American people to cultivate this vast land. In order to

cultivate this vast land, many American people died young, on average

at age 40. They worked so hard to cultivate this country. Whenever we

drive the highways of this land, we are amazed at the greatness of the

highways all around the country. Once I went to the southern part of

this land, hoping to see the Mississippi River. At that time I saw

cotton fields which seemed to be so big that they stretched endlessly

from east to west, and from south to north. Our American forefathers

cultivated this land when they had strong faith, in spite of

innumerable hindrances and obstacles.  As I said, I went to see the

Mississippi River, but my tour guide was so poor that I never got to

see it.


Now there is a strong impression that America has changed to an

unbelieving generation. Dr. Joseph Chung and Dr. John Lee were arrested

on the Loyola campus and were handcuffed, simply because they were

inviting students for Bible study. They slept overnight in a government

motel. On the other hand, Loyola allowed Muslim people to build a big

mosque inside the campus. What a surprise in the sight of God! Harvard

University was originally founded as a Bible school. But at last year's

graduation ceremony, they invited a Muslim leader and a Christian

pastor and both prayed the opening prayer. What a surprise in the sight

of God!


UBF has been teaching the Bible to students so that they might

accept the teachings of the Bible and live by them. But anti-Christians

have attacked UBF unbearably for the last 19 years. Even though

anti-Christians attacked UBF, UBF prayed for the present and future

America to be blessed and to be a blessing to the people of the whole

world. Once a renowned journalist interviewed Evangelist Dr. Billy

Graham: "What would you do if you lived once more in this world?"

Evangelist Dr. Billy Graham answered, "If I could live again, I would

study the Bible quietly and teach the Bible person-to-person." We are

doing what the famous evangelist is aspiring to do, even in his dreams.

In this respect UBF is very prophetic and practical and doing what is

indispensable for this generation, that is, one-to-one Bible study and

discipleship training. One of the IVF leaders visited UBF and said, "If

any organization does not compromise with the culture of the time, it

is a cult." Some of their great leaders of the past: Stacy Woods, David

Adeney, and Hans Burke, were indeed life-giving and life-sacrificing

servants of God and they considered UBF a brother organization. How

could this IVF leader talk like that? Frankly speaking, he belongs to

the unbelieving generation, although his body is in IVF. Jesus rebuked

his disciples that they were people of the unbelieving generation. But

in truth, Jesus rebuked the people of that entire generation. Many

problems crush the people of each generation. But unbelief is the most

serious problem. John Tower was the head of the Judiciary Committee for

the Iran-Contra hearings. He was stern, and sharper than a knife in

dealing with Oliver North, who simply obeyed his senior's order. So

many people were impressed that Senator John Tower was a holy man. But

he soon died when his own plane crashed. After his death people

described him as an "animal man." His appearance as an animal man in

Time Magazine was so funny.


Jesus is most sorry when a generation is unbelieving and

perverse.  An unbelieving generation causes most people to be

unbelieving. America seems to be prosperous outwardly. But Jesus is

very sorry for America because she is so unbelieving. After lamenting

for the unbelieving generation, Jesus rebuked the demon and he came out

of the boy, and the boy was healed from that moment.


Here we learn a great lesson. Many people think they will be free

and happy if they abandon God. But it is not so. In man there is both

flesh and spirit, or a soul. We must fill our physical body with many

kinds of delicious foods to make it alive. Likewise, we must also fill

our souls with the word of God. Otherwise, our souls are occupied by

demons. There is a story of a young man who lived according to his

sinful nature. Later he was possessed by 6,000 demons. A godless life

seems to be free. But those who live godless lives are tormented by

many demons, and they are extremely unhappy. It is because they are not

themselves; they are the possession of demons. I heard that a 69-year

old man, who is the father of one of our missionaries, divorced his

wife, saying that his wife is not beautiful. What a wretched man he is!

He pretended to be happy all the time. But he is not happy^not because

of his aging wife^but because of demons driving his soul. He thinks

joyful people, peaceful people and sacrificial people in Jesus are all

crazy. But he is mad.


Third, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed (19-21). Those nine

disciples who failed to heal the demon-possessed boy were greatly

embarrassed by the Pharisees, before so many people. They made such

excellent gestures to heal the boy. But they only became the objects of

ridicule.  Then they came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn't

we drive the demon out?" Jesus answered as follows. Look at verse 20.

"He replied, ^Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth,

if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this

mountain, "Move from here to there" and it will move. Nothing will be

impossible for you.'" Here we learn that faith is everything. If we

have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing is impossible. When our

American forefathers had a little faith, "In God We Trust," they could

establish this vast nation. The establishment of this country is

greater than throwing a mountain into the sea. All of us agree

unanimously that the establishment of our nation within such a short

period of history is indeed great. America was established because of

her people's faith. America was established because God blessed her

people's faith, and blessed it more than enough.


In Mark's Gospel, Mark wrote not only the word "faith," he also

included the word "prayer." Mark 11:24 says, "Therefore I tell you,

whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and

it will be yours." Prayer is the same as faith. When we have faith in

God, we can pray to God. When we have faith and pray, God will answer

our prayer; anything can be done. We have a prayer topic: May God

establish America as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. It seems

to be too big a prayer topic for us. But it is too small compared with

God's prayer topic for the whole world's salvation. Still our prayer

topic^may God establish America as a kingdom of priests and a holy

nation^seems to be too big for us.  Sometimes we feel very vague, and

it seems impossible to be done. Of course, we cannot do it. But we can

pray so that our prayers may be answered and God would do it for us. We

are weak, but we are very confident that everything is possible because

God promised that he will hear our prayers. Therefore, we must pray

that we may have true faith in our hearts, faith as small as a mustard

seed. Then God will pour his power into our hearts through his Holy

Spirit. When we pray, we must believe that God will answer our prayer

and "it will be ours." We should not make Jesus sorry like his nine

disciples did. They did not have faith as small as a mustard seed. So

they could not drive out the demon from the boy's soul.


Fourth, Jesus' prediction of his death and resurrection (22-23). What

the disciples didn't like was to hear from Jesus about his death and

resurrection; they were most afraid of it. But Jesus again predicts his

death and resurrection. Verses 22-23a say, "When they came together in

Galilee, he said to them, ^The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into

the hands of men. They will kill him and on the third day he will be

raised to life.'" What was the disciples' response? The disciples were

filled with grief. Jesus' death and resurrection gives man final

victory, unutterable happiness, remarkable joy, and the most

undisturbed peace. But his disciples were filled with grief. Most

people of the world are filled with grief because they do not accept

Jesus' death and resurrection as a living hope and as man's final



We want to do something great, like those nine disciples who were

at the foot of the mountain. But if we do something without faith and

prayer, it is indeed in vain. Even if we do something, if we do it

without faith it is like building a house on the sand. Therefore, we

must ask God to give us faith as small as a mustard seed, and a clear

prayer topic so that God can accept our faith and give us the power of

mountain-moving faith and hear our prayer and change America as a

kingdom of priests and a holy nation. May God help us to overcome the

unbelieving generation.