Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Vision (4/4/13): The Mighty Power of God

Note:  I preached Sunday from Luke 9:37-45 on Jesus’ healing of a demon possessed boy on the day after experiencing the glory of the transfiguration.  Below are my notes on five spiritual applications drawn from the passage:

“And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God” (Luke 9:43a).

1.       Though it would be wrong to take from this passage any kind of model for diagnosing demon possession or pursuing exorcisms, we do see here a picture of the damage that evil (whether by an extra-ordinary cause like demon possession or the more ordinary cause of our own sinfulness or that of others) does to human beings.

Sin tears.  It bruises.  It shatters.  It crushes. Our only hope for liberation from the ravages of sin is the Lord Jesus Christ.

2.       There is something to be learned from the contrast we see here between the glory that some of the disciples experienced on the mount of transfiguration while others were waging a spiritual battle over the demon possessed boy down below.

If you think about it, this is often the case right now.  Some saints are even now in heaven, part of the church triumphant, basking in the glory of Christ.  Others of us are here on earth now, part of the church militant, fighting spiritual battles and often appearing to come out on the losing end.  But there is coming a time when Christ will once again descend from the place of glory and set all things right.  He will handle all the things we could not handle.

3.       There is something to be learned from the father’s persistence in going to Jesus directly even when his efforts to seek the assistance of the apostles failed.

In Mark’s account of this event, he point out a conversation the father had with Jesus after asking Jesus to help his son:

KJV Mark 9:21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. 23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.


Do we have those we love, perhaps those in our families, who are caught up tight in a trap of sin and misery?  Have we entrusted them to Christ fully, saying something like, “Lord, I have reached the end of my ability and I am fully relying on you.  I believe.  All things are possible with you.  Help my unbelief.”?


4.       There is an exhortation here for the church, even as there was for the disciples (who are so often forerunners of the church in the Gospels).


We are in the same state as those disciples.  We do not have Christ physically with us and we no doubt often strain his patience at our failures and inabilities.


Both Matthew and Mark record that after this miracle, the disciples came to Jesus and asked:  “Why could we not cast him out” (Matt 17:19; Mark 9:28).  Matthew records our Lord’s response:


KJV Matthew 17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.


As Jesus exhorted the disciples of old, so he does the church today for its lack or deficiency in three areas:  (1) in faith; (2) in prayer; and (3) in fasting (self-denial).


5.       We cannot understand Christ unless we understand his cross and resurrection.

Jesus’ prediction of his passion was “hid” from his hearers (v. 45).  Those who were in the crowd listening to Jesus after he healed this boy were still on the other side of the cross and resurrection. It had not yet happened.  They thus had some excuse, but we have none.  The mystery has been revealed.  Jesus died on the cross for sinner, and he was raised to life.  If you confess the Lord Jesus and believe that God has raised him from the dead you will be saved (Romans 10:9).  This is the mighty power of God.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle       

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