|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:14-21 The case of afflicted children should be presented to God by faithful and fervent prayer. Christ cured the child. Though the people were perverse, and Christ was provoked, yet care was taken of the child. When all other helps and succours fail, we are welcome to Christ, may trust in him, and in his power and goodness. See here an emblem of Christ's undertaking as our Redeemer. It encourages parents to bring children to Christ, whose souls are under Satan's power; he is able to heal them, and as willing as he is able. Not only bring them to Christ by prayer, but bring them to the word of Christ; to means by which Satan's strong-holds in the soul are beaten down. It is good for us to distrust ourselves and our own strength; but it is displeasing to Christ when we distrust any power derived from him, or granted by him. There was also something in the malady which rendered the cure difficult. The extraordinary power of Satan must not discourage our faith, but quicken us to more earnestness in praying to God for the increase of it. Do we wonder to see Satan's bodily possession of this young man from a child, when we see his spiritual possession of every son of Adam from the fall!
Verse 16. - I brought him to thy disciples. He had come with the multitude, hoping to find Jesus, and, being disappointed, he had applied to the nine to relieve his misery. When the apostles were sent forth with commission to heal the sick, they returned with joy to report the success of their tour: they cast forth many devils; they noted with glad surprise that the very demons were subject to them in the Name of Jesus (Matthew 10:1; Luke 10:17). It was different now. They could not cure him. What means they used we know not; at any rate, they were ineffectual. The writers who record the failure must be allowed to be truthful and honest. There had been much to depress these disciples. Their Master was absent, gone they knew not whither; how long he would be away they could not tell; the boldest and most trusted of their company were no longer present to cheer them with sympathy, to repel attacks, to stand forth as champions. The scribes' uncompromising disbelief (Mark 9:16) had for the moment obscured their own perfect trust; the atmosphere of infidelity had affected their own breathing; the memory of Christ's words concerning his Passion and death recurred again with dispiriting effect, infusing doubt and disquiet; they bad for the time lost the ardour and confidence which had animated them in their first mission; retaining belief in Christ's claims, they felt a hesitation concerning their own ability; and the conscious weakness in their exorcism nullified its power, and they could do no mighty work.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And I brought him to thy disciples,.... To the nine, whilst Christ was with the other three upon the mountain: no doubt but his design was to bring him to Christ first; but he being absent, he applied to his disciples, and, desired them to make use of their power to heal him; and which they attempted, but without success:
and they could not cure him. This he said, partly to show the malignity and stubbornness of the disease, and partly to accuse the disciples of weakness; when he himself was as much in fault as they, as the following words show. Here the Jew (w) insults, and charges with contradiction, that in one place it should be said, that Jesus gave his disciples power to cast out unclean spirits, and here all the disciples could not cast a spirit out of one little child: but without any reason; let it be observed, that "all" the disciples were not present, the three principal ones were with Christ; besides, this was not owing to want of power in them, which Christ had conferred on them, and which they often made use of with success: but partly to their own unbelief, and partly to the unbelief of the father of this child, and others with him, as appears from what follows: and it is clear from Mark, that when he came to Christ, he had but little faith; he says to him, "if thou canst do anything, help us"; and after Christ had talked with him about his faith, he could only say, "Lord, I believe, help mine unbelief".
(w) Vet. Nizzachon, p. 219, 220.
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