Please read Matthew 17:14-27, Mark 9:14-32
& Luke 9:37-45
At the Base of the Mountain
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, because he has seizures and suffers terribly; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.”
And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverse 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 healed at once.
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
And He said to them, “Because of your meager 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 for you.” Matthew 17:14-20 NASB
In the shadow of Mount Hermon, by far the largest mountain in all of Israel, Yeshua stated that faith as tiny as a mustard seed could move such a mountain.
The concept of “moving mountains” actually appears thrice in Scripture:
And He said to them, “Because of your meager 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 for you.” Matthew 17:20
And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive it all.” Matthew 21:21-22
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:2
Mountains were symbolic of kingdoms, the Daniel 2 stone that became a great mountain that filled the whole earth was the kingdom of God. Mount Hermon, with the gates of hell at its base and history of angelic rebellion at its summit, was symbolic of Satan’s kingdom, even as seen in the demonic possession of this boy. Not only could individuals be delivered through faith, but Satan’s whole kingdom shifted.
When they got back to the talmidim, they saw a large crowd around them and some Torah-teachers arguing with them. As soon as the crowd saw him, they were surprised and ran out to greet him.
He asked them, “What’s the discussion about?”
One of the crowd gave him the answer: “Rabbi, I brought my son to you because he has an evil spirit in him that makes him unable to talk. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground — he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth and becomes stiff all over. I asked your talmidim to drive the spirit out, but they couldn’t do it.”
“People without any trust!” he responded. “How long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to Me!”
They brought the boy to Him; and as soon as the spirit saw Him, it threw the boy into a convulsion.
Yeshua asked the boy’s father, “How long has this been happening to him?”
“Ever since childhood,” he said; “and it often tries to kill him by throwing him into the fire or into the water. But if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us!”
Yeshua said to him, “What do you mean, ‘if you can’? Everything is possible to someone who has trust!”
Instantly the father of the child exclaimed, “I do trust — help my lack of trust!”
When Yeshua saw that the crowd was closing in on them, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and dumb spirit! I command you: come out of him, and never go back into him again!”
Shrieking and throwing the boy into a violent fit, it came out. The boy lay there like a corpse, so that most of the people said he was dead. But Yeshua took him by the hand and raised him to his feet, and he stood up.
After Yeshua had gone indoors, his talmidim asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He said to them “This is the kind of spirit that can be driven out only by prayer.” (Some manuscripts add “and fasting.”) Mark 9:14-29 CJB
Yeshua and His three talmidim had stayed on the mountain all night. Which could explain why Peter, James and John had been sound asleep when Yeshua was transfigured and had awoken with such surprise (Luke 9:32).
This was not the first time Yeshua had spent the night in prayer. Such private communion with the Father was essential to His walk of only doing what He saw His Father doing (John 5:19). It was also, we have just read, essential for walking in the faith needed to drive out this type of unclean spirit (Mark 9:29). Such times of prayer (and some manuscripts add fasting) are needed for faith the size of a mustard seed.
On the next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met Him. And a man from the crowd shouted for help, “Teacher, I beg You to look at my son, because he is my only child; and a spirit seizes him, and suddenly he cries out, and it throws him into a convulsion so that he foams at the mouth; and only with [great] difficulty does it leave him, mauling and bruising him as it leaves. I begged Your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.”
Jesus answered, “You unbelieving and perverted generation! How long shall I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here [to Me].”
Even while the boy was coming, the demon slammed him down and threw him into a [violent] convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy and gave him back to his father.
They were all amazed [practically overwhelmed] at the [evidence of the] greatness of God and His majesty and His wondrous work. Luke 9:37-43 AMP
Walking back through Galilee by Themselves
And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be handed over to men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.”
And they were deeply grieved. Matthew 17:22-23 NASB
After leaving that place, they went on through the Galil. Yeshua didn’t want anyone to know, because He was teaching His talmidim. He told them, “The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men who will put Him to death; but after He has been killed, three days later He will rise.”
But they didn’t understand what He meant, and they were afraid to ask Him. Mark 9:30-32 CJB
But while they were still awed by everything Jesus was doing, He said to His disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears: the Son of Man is going to be betrayed and handed over to men [who are His enemies].”
However, they did not understand this statement. Its meaning was kept hidden from them so that they would not grasp it; and they were afraid to ask Him about it. Luke 9:43b-45
Teaching in Capernaum
It takes 10-11 hours to walk from Caesarea Philippi to Capernaum, probably a bit longer for them to walk the back routs from the base of Mount Hermon to avoid the crowds. It had been a few months since Yeshua and His talmidim were at their home base in Capernaum, on the shores of the sea of Galilee. As Peter went about his business, possibly purchasing food for them all or returning to his house to spend some time with his wife, he was met by the honoured religious tax collectors.
Now when they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?”
He said, “Yes.”
And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?”
When Peter said, “From strangers,”
Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt. However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a stater. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.” Matthew 17:24-27 NASB
Every Jewish man, 20 years and older, was required by the law of Moses to contribute two drachmas, or half a shekel, to the tent of meeting each time a census of the people was taken (Exodus 30:11–16). This later became a yearly tax for the upkeep of the temple. The Greek word behind “tax” (NKJV) or “tribute” (KJV) in verse 24 is didrachma, equivalent to the Jewish “half-shekel,” the Temple rate paid by every male Israelite above age twenty. It was not hated like the Roman taxes, and was not collected by the sort of tax collectors that Matthew had been, but by religious leaders of the Jewish people. Notice that Yeshua only organised for the temple tax to be paid for himself and Peter, not any of the other apostles. This has led some to suggest that Peter was the only one of the apostles who was over 20 years of age and thereby subject to this tax.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the Lord a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them. Each one who crosses over to those already counted is to give a half shekel, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. This half shekel is an offering to the Lord. All who cross over, those twenty years old or more, are to give an offering to the Lord. The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the Lord to atone for your lives. Receive the atonement money from the Israelites and use it for the service of the tent of meeting. It will be a memorial for the Israelites before the Lord, making atonement for your lives.” Exodus 30:11-16 NIV
The two-drachma temple tax was meant to be given to God, who is the king over all. Yeshua is God’s Son. The temple tax is not required of the Son of God any more than a regular tax is intended for the son of the king. Therefor Yeshua should not have been be required to pay this tax. He did not, however, demand this right, for His time had not yet come and this was not a fight His Father had called Him to. Instead, God paid the tax through this miracle of the exact amount for both Yeshua and Peter being in the mouth of the fish. What could have been a cause for conflict became instead an opportunity for miracle.
Then an argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the thoughts of their hearts, had a little child stand beside Him. And He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My name welcomes Me, and whoever welcomes Me welcomes the One who sent Me. For whoever is the least among all of you, he is the greatest.” Luke 9:46-48 BSB
They arrived at K’far-Nachum (Capernaum). When Yeshua was inside the house, he asked them, “What were you discussing as we were traveling?”
But they kept quiet; because on the way, they had been arguing with each other about who was the greatest.
He sat down, summoned the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.”
He took a child and stood him among them. Then he put his arms around him and said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the One who sent me.” Mark 9:33-37 CJB
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
And He called a child to Himself and set him among them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you change and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. So whoever will humble himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name, receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:1-6 NASB
We need to be careful how we treat and teach children. They are of utmost importance to our heavenly Father, and they are dependent on us for nurture and protection. We are to humble ourselves like a small, helpless child, and we are to treat all such children in the same manner that we would treat Jesus Himself if He came into our midst. God’s wrath rests on those who abuse children or lead them astray into sin.
“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones; for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 18:10 NASB
“Woe to the world because of snares! For there must be snares, but woe to the person who sets the snare! Matthew 18:7 CJB
“Woe to the world because of snares! — That is, unspeakable misery will be in the world through them. The Greek word translated here as “snares” (or “offences” in the KJV) is skandalon which literally means the trigger of a trap – the mechanism which closes a trap on the unsuspecting victim. It refers to the means of stumbling or entrapment. Our most common snare is self-government, i.e. living outside of God’s inbirthings of faith (“divine persuasion”). For whatever does not originate and proceed from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
For there must be snares — Such is the nature of things, and such the weakness, folly, and wickedness of mankind, that it cannot be but they will come. It is inevitable that we are surrounded by means of stumbling or entrapment.
but woe to the person who sets the snare! — That is, miserable is that man; who sets the snare – the enticement that hinders themselves or another from walking in faith with God as Yeshua did.
So if your hand or foot becomes a snare for you, cut it off and throw it away! Better that you should be maimed or crippled and obtain eternal life than keep both hands or both feet and be thrown into everlasting fire! And if your eye is a snare for you, gouge it out and fling it away! Better that you should be one-eyed and obtain eternal life than keep both eyes and be thrown into the fire of Gei-Hinnom.” Matthew 18:8-9 CJB
And if your hand puts a stumbling block before you and causes you to sin, cut it off! It is more profitable and wholesome for you to go into life that is really worthwhile maimed than with two hands to go to hell (Gehenna), into the fire that cannot be put out. And if your foot is a cause of stumbling and sin to you, cut it off! It is more profitable and wholesome for you to enter into life [that is really worthwhile] crippled than, having two feet, to be cast into hell (Gehenna). And if your eye causes you to stumble and sin, pluck it out! It is more profitable and wholesome for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell (Gehenna), where their worm which preys on the inhabitants and is a symbol of the wounds inflicted on the man himself by his sins] does not die, and the fire is not put out. Mark 9:43-48 AMP
Yeshua was compassionate with sinners, but told the brutal truth about sin – it ensnares and destroys and will have you cast into hell. Gehenna (hell) is described in scripture as suffering in perpetual fire (Matthew 5:22, 18:9 & Mark 9:45), and it is contrasted as the opposite to the eternal life that Yeshua paid for us to receive. Yeshua is warning His talmidim that they are in danger of this if they do not cut off from themselves anything that leads them into sin, that is, anything that is not of faith. If they were in such danger what makes us think that we can play with sin and avoid like condemnation?
For everyone shall be salted with fire.
Salt is good (beneficial), but if salt has lost its saltness, how will you restore [the saltness to] it? Have salt within yourselves, and be at peace and live in harmony with one another. Mark 9:49-50 AMP
“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not accompany us.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus replied, “for whoever is not against you is for you.” Luke 9:49-50 BSB
Yochanan said to him, “Rabbi, we saw a man expelling demons in your name; and because he wasn’t one of us, we told him to stop.”
But Yeshua said, “Don’t stop him, because no one who works a miracle in my name will soon after be able to say something bad about me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Indeed, whoever gives you even a cup of water to drink because you come in the name of the Messiah — yes! I tell you that he will certainly not lose his reward. Mark 9:38-41 CJB
How often have ministers acted like the apostle Yochanan (John) here: “because he wasn’t one of us, we told him to stop“? Yeshua had already taught them: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38) Here was an additional labourer for the harvest and the apostles had tried to stop him working because “he’s not one of us“. Notice that this man was apparently successful in his casting out demons through Yeshua’s name, unlike the failure the disciples had endured at the base of Mount Hermon. This man who was “not one of us” was acting in faith as Yeshua had been teaching them to do. All who are doing the works of the Kingdom of God should be encouraged. Do not restrict any because they are not part of your group, or not ordained the way you were, or not from your tribe, or not from the same Bible college, or in any other way not like you. All men and woman, boys and girls are needed for the mighty job of bringing in the harvest – pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest and do not try to stop any of them stepping out in faith and ministering in His name.
1. HELPS Ministries. The Discovery Bible. [Online] https://thediscoverybible.com/.
2. Stern, David H. Complete Jewish Bible (CJB). 1998.
3. Benson. Matthew 18:7. Bible Hub. [Online] Benson’s Comentary. [Cited: September 18th, 2022.] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/18-7.htm.
4. Multiple. Luke 9:38 Commentaries. Bible Hub. [Online] [Cited: September 18th, 2022.] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/9-38.htm.
5. Got Questions. What is the Temple Tax? Got Questions.org. [Online] [Cited: September 18th, 2022.] https://www.gotquestions.org/temple-tax.html.
In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…
* While His disciples were sleeping, Jesus was praying. What impacts did Jesus’ prayer life have?
* What have you experienced in your life that has show that “all things are possible for the one believing?”
* Why do you think it was so difficult for the disciples to grasp what Jesus was saying when He told them He was going to be killed and raised again on the third day?
* Has God ever spoken anything to you that you did not understand until after it had happened?
* How should we treat children if Jesus said: “Whoever welcomes this little child in My name welcomes Me“?
* Proverbs 9:10 begins with: “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom...” How does that relate to what Jesus taught about removing anything from our life that becomes a snare or stumbling block that leads us into sin?
* How do your people treat sin? Do they think they can get away with it or recognise the peril that Jesus said it puts them in?
* Have you experienced trying to stop you from ministering, or know of others this has happened to?