Perils of an Unbelieving Generation

Our Study today comes from Section 87 in the Harmony of the Gospels. We’ve discussed the topic of demons, demoniacs, and deliverance various times before but we’ve never provided you a full listing of the Biblical accounts of Jesus liberating demoniacs. This is the last of ten (10) reported instances1 in which Jesus had delivered people from demons (sometimes just one and other times plural), and finally that this type of ministry would continue in Section 181. Quite simply, this is not a topic that can be dismissed easily from the life of believers today and perhaps the fact that it has been is why the Church is in such sad state today. Jesus uses the fact of such power as an element of his testimony; and his resurrection was once again final evidence of his divine authority over even the strongest demonic force. Therefore, if there is any doubt or confusion in your mind about this topic in the life of Jesus or the life of the believer today, let us once and for all put this to rest.


Section 87 | Healing of Demoniac Boy and Unbelief Rebuked

[one_third last=”no”]Matthew 17:14-21




14 When they came to the multitude, a man came to him, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is epileptic, and suffers grievously; for he often falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to your disciples, and they could not cure him.”2


17 Jesus answered, “Faithless and perverse generation! How long will I be with you? How long will I bear with you? Bring him here to me.”










18 Jesus rebuked him, the demon went out of him, and the boy was cured from that hour.




19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately, and said, “Why weren’t we able to cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your unbelief. For most certainly I tell you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 But this kind doesn’t go out except by prayer and fasting.3[/one_third]
[one_third last=”no”]Mark 9:14-29
14 Coming to the disciples, he saw a great multitude around them, and scribes questioning them. 15 Immediately all the multitude, when they saw him, were greatly amazed, and running to him, greeted him. 16 He asked the scribes, “What are you asking them?” 17 One of the multitude answered, “Teacher, I brought to you my son, who has a mute spirit; 18 and wherever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth, and wastes away. I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they weren’t able.”


19 He answered him, “Unbelieving generation,4 how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 They brought him to him, and when he saw him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground, wallowing and foaming at the mouth.5 21 He asked his father, “How long has it been since this has come to him?” He said, “From childhood. 22 Often it has cast him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us, and help us.”6 23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out with tears, “I believe. Help my unbelief!”7 25 When Jesus saw that a multitude came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to him, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you,8 come out of him, and never enter him again!” 26 After crying out and convulsing him greatly, it came out of him. The boy became like one dead, so much that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and raised him up; and he arose. 28 When he had come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?”



29 He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing, except by prayer and fasting.”[/one_third]
[one_third last=”yes”]Luke 9:37-43a




37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great multitude met him. 38 Behold, a man from the crowd called out, saying, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 Behold, a spirit takes him, he suddenly cries out, and it convulses him so that he foams, and it hardly departs from him, bruising him severely. 40 I begged your disciples to cast it out, and they couldn’t.” 41 Jesus answered, “Faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him violently.








But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father.










43a They were all astonished at the majesty of God. [/one_third]

Group Dialog:

  • Who are the characters in today’s reading? What preconceived ideas, emotions, and situations might be influencing their actions, conversations, and results?
  • Based on the events of the story and what you already know about Jesus would you consider Jesus to be greater than his disciples? Why?
  • Why is Jesus able to do what his disciples could not?
  • Trust and Faith. Now how do we get such faith?

Learning Objectives:


Study Notes:

    • Phase 3: Sections 42, 43, 44
    • Phase 5a: Sections  60, 61, 66, 68 in addition to Section 53 in which he gave the same authority to his Apostles, and referenced again in Sections 54h, 57
    • Phase 5b: Sections 70c, 78, 87,   plus mention of such authority in Sections 70b, and a discussion of authority in Section 91, and the confusion of the topic among the crowd and religious leaders in section 96a, 99b, and 101b
    • Phase 5c: Sections 102b the 70 report that they had the same authority, 106, and his testimony of his identity by such in Section 113b
    • Phase 5d: Section 173 referring to his previous deliverance of Mary Magdalene (Sec 60)
    • Jesus had just returned from the mount of transfiguration with three of his disciples, to discover that other of his disciples who had been approached by the father of a demon-possessed boy but had failed to deliver the boy.
    • “True faith takes no confidence in itself, nor does it judge Jesus by the weakness of his followers. It looks to the More Powerful One (1:7) who stands in the place of God, whose authoritative word restores life from chaos. True faith is unconditional openness to God, a decision in the face of all to the contrary that Jesus is able.” Edwards, James R.: The Gospel According to Mark. Grand Rapids, Mich; Leicester, England : Eerdmans; Apollos, 2002 (The Pillar New Testament Commentary), S. 278
    • Mark’s gospel is full of sayings about faith/belief. See 2:5, 4:40, 5:34, 19:52, 11:22-23)
    • Amazing that in the mere presence of Jesus, the evil spirits reacted. CR: Mark 1:23-26, 34, 3:11-12, 5:6-13.
    • Though his son was still a boy, the compassion of his father and long-suffering with the ailment, prompted him to ask Jesus to do all that he could.
    • The man doesn’t answer that he has amassed enough knowledge nor even that he is a man of great faith, but even the “little faith” he has he yields to Jesus – trusting not in his own strength but in the sufficiency of Jesus. That is the secret we must teach every disciple. Jesus has enough, he has done enough, he can do all. Trust and Faith. Now how do we get such faith?
    • Jesus himself commands the spirit in the first person not in the name or authority of some other (not God, not the prophets, not the Law).  Jesus himself had the power, and authority – although he had given such authority to the Apostles already (See Study Note #1).

By Greg Troxell

Disciple, entrepreneur and catalytic leader. Advocate of the sharing economy. Ministering to youth, new Christians, and equipping the saints. Developing the Emotivational practice. Founder of

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