Let's Cogitate On These Verses Matthew 17:15-21 - What Actually Did Jesus Say?

What Actually Did Jesus Say?

“And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, why could not we cast him out? 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. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” 

Matt 17:15-21

In the quotation above, a notion has been generated suggesting that Jesus said for certain demons to be casted away and even some situations one needs to fast and pray. Well, contextually Jesus didn’t say so! The issue in this context is not about the demon, but the level of unbelief of His disciples. Therefore, the statement “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (though in the original Greek text the word fasting is not there) is referring to the level of unbelief of His disciples. Any believer can cast out demons and turnaround situations if he/she has the right focus. Backpedaling to a few chapters, these guys went out with the authority of Jesus and healed the sick, cast out devils and great things were done by them, the question here is why didn’t they cast this particular demon out? Jesus answered by saying “Because of your unbelief” And he went further to throw more light in what their unbelief is and that is lack of faith. In the New Testament the source of faith is made known to us. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Again in the original Greek text the word “cometh” was not used and is not word of God instead word of Christ). Therefore, we can say that “So then faith is by hearing and hearing the word of Christ.” This makes it more factual and specific in the sense that faith is by hearing the word of Christ only.

But then, it is interesting to know that faith is a function of trust and trust is a function of knowledge. This means the level of faith one has on a particular thing depends on the amount of trust he or she has placed on that particular thing and that also depends on the level of knowledge he or she has about that particular thing. Remember in verse 17 of the same chapter, Jesus made this statement “Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him hither to me.” This is a direct indictment to the disciples who as a matter fact has lost focus on what Jesus does while with them. They were carried away by the euphoria of spectacular manifestations of miracles, signs and wonders without focusing to understand how it is being done. Simply put “They were just follow follow guys” as a result their life is full of ignorance. So it is only knowledge that clears ignorance and knowledge is the source of trust and faith is built on trust. 

For a believer to escape the realm of unbelief, it requires that he or she should seek to have a working knowledge of what the scripture stipulates. The understanding of that engraves a high level of trust that will make one to rely on its efficacy no matter what! Definitely, it requires that one should pray and fast (if need be) to get knowledge in order to remove the qualms surrounding him or her. Hence Apostle Paul declares “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” Eph 1:17-18.

The prayer above centered on knowing, not on having, so we do not have because we do not know. Prophet Daniel puts it better this way “And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” (Dan 11:32). Therefore, it all depends on what the disciples of Jesus knew or learnt from Him, and it is obvious that they knew nothing and as a result they were faithless