One of the stories in the bible that I have always wanted greater understanding comes out of Matthew and Mark. Here it is out of Matthew:
When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. [ But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” ] And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” And they were deeply grieved. (Matthew 17:14-23 NASB)
I really have always wanted a deeper understanding why the disciples could not drive it out and why Jesus said, “But this kind only comes out with prayer and fasting.”
If you notice that this verse in Matthew has brackets around it in the NASB version. This signifies that this verse was not in earlier manuscripts, in the NKJV it states in the side note the same thing. This got me curious and because of that curiosity I began to seek the Father and found there is a really BIG and BEAUTIFUL purpose here that He wanted in His Word for us to have a deeper understanding of something and that is what I want to share here today.
In the Strong’s concordance, I looked up this passage of scripture in Matthew to take a deeper look at the meaning of the words. There was a clue here that the Lord wanted to show me. Lo and behold as I was looking up the word, fasting, which the Lord had highlighted for me, here is what I found (click on link if you want to see):
What caught my interest were two things: one that fasting was a noun=person, place or thing; and secondly that the definition was fasting; day of atonement. The Day of Atonement is a noun just like Christmas is a noun. I use Christmas as it is a holiday as the Day of Atonement is too but for Jews. The day of atonement is known as Yom Kippur the high holy day when the Levitical Priest went into the holy of holies in the temple once a year to sprinkle blood on the mercy seat to atone for the entire Jewish people. The day of atonement is also known as “Face to face” or “at one with God”.
Going back to Matthew and the fact that the disciples could not drive out this one from the boy. Jesus goes on to say they have little faith, belief in Him, belief they have authority. Remember in Matthew 10:1 the disciples were given power over unclean spirits to cast them out. And yet this one they could not cast out. When the disciples come to Him and ask why, Jesus first states they needed faith only as small as a mustard seed and could move mountains from here to there. I believe Jesus is speaking of what will come to them after the Cross and He is risen and ascends to the right hand of the Father. Then they will only need faith as small as a mustard seed and they will be able to do what He just did with the little boy. I believe this because Jesus goes on to tell them what will happen to Him very soon regarding that very thing, right after He said they have little faith and tells them all they need is little faith (see scripture above). This is all they will need after He goes to the Cross and is risen in three days, just little faith. Little faith to believe that we, through Jesus, have become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and then mountains will move-this shows the dominion that we will walk in because of what Jesus did on the Cross! It shows that as believers we all walk in that dominion not because of anything we have done but because of EVERYTHING He has done.
Now on to the second part!! In between all the above, is the statement Jesus makes about “this one comes out only through prayer and fasting”. Now remember fasting here is a noun and it also means day of atonement which is also known as the day Face to face. Here is what the Lord tied together for me:
He reminded me that this day in Jewish custom is a holiday were the Levitical priest would go in and sprinkle blood in the holy of holies. This was the only time man would see God Face to face and yet it was always dimly, there was to be perpetual incense before the Lord (Exodus 30:8). I believe scripturally that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants up to their new covenant they made with God when the Israelites said: they could do all that He commanded them (Exodus 19:1-8) were able to see God face to face and not die for their righteousness came from belief/trust in God(Genesis 6:2-3). When it came to Moses though God hid his Face from him to protect him after the law had been given because they had to produce their own righteousness by fulfilling the law and so that is why the perpetual incense before God in the holy of holies. It protected the priests from seeing His face clearly even after the sacrifice.
With that in mind the Lord showed me the scripture in 1 Corinthians 13 after speaking on love Paul goes on to say this:
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:11-12 NASB)
The Lord was showing me that the story about the demonized boy in Matthew and the demon coming out was tied to this scripture in 1 Corinthians 13. See under the law we are but children DOING all the things listed in 1 Corinthians 13:1-10 but remember if we are doing them then they are fruitless without love. With faith in what Jesus has done for us, knowing that He fully made us the righteousness of God in Him, believing that Jesus completed it once and for all, that we are dead to sin and alive in righteousness not because of anything we do as a believer in Christ but because of EVERYTHING He did. This levels the playing field completely. What this means is that no believer is better than any other believer because of “what they do”. The playing field is leveled…Jesus did that. So out of that belief that we are ONLY righteous through Jesus Christ comes this pure, unadulterated love that is not from ourselves but from Him as He comes to live in and through us with His Holy Spirit. Then in all that we do, whatever that may be, as we are all different and beautiful that way, than those things done are done with that pure, unadulterated love that flows through the believer as we just choose to believe and rest in what Jesus has done for us. That is walking in grace which moves us out of childhood and into adulthood as a believer. Wow!! No more milk but meat.
Next, first we see in a mirror dimly…this is when we live under the law too. We can not see so clearly when we are still reliant on the law. We need to be reliant on the Holy Spirit, fully believing in the free gift of righteousness where we are set free from the law. We are able to have clear Face to face relationship with God because of what Jesus did on the Cross. All you believe is who you are-the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, simple. This very thing is what is shown in Matthew 17:21. See Jesus was not upset that His disciples didn’t have enough faith. He knew where they were at, pre-Cross, and understood that this “kind could only come out with prayer and fasting”. This word fasting is tied to the meaning of the day of atonement which had not yet occurred (Jesus had not gone to the Cross) so of course His disciples were not walking in the fullness of Christ’s resurrection, atonement or the power of the Holy Spirit at this time. This boy needed a direct Face to face encounter with the LOVE of God to set him free. And that is exactly what happened that day. Jesus, God in the flesh, was there for a Face to face encounter with the boy that set him free!!!! Glory to God!
Now we, as believers, are the righteousness of God in Jesus. We now carry the very Holy Spirit in us at all times, because of this we have the “day of atonement” ability all the time, ALL the time we can see God Face to face. God provided this through His beloved One, His only Son, for us that believe. God desires for us to know Him, as He knows us, intimately. He also desires us to be a Face to face interaction for people and the world that so desperately needs Him. It is simple and it is for all of us that believe. You simply know who you are rest in it and Whose you are rest in Him…consent to His love permeating and free flowing in and through you, then walk according to His Spirit and we together, in Jesus, will see the captives set free!!!