“… ‘Bring your son here.’
As the boy was still approaching, the demon knocked him down and threw him into severe convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And they were all astonished at the greatness of God.” ( Luke 9:41b-43)
Confession time, I haven’t journaled today’s verses or yesterday’s yet because I’ve been parked on Monday’s verses from Luke 9. Every so often that happens, and I just roll with it because I figure there’s something God wants me to learn. I would encourage you to do the same. So what is it about these few verses that I felt was worth sharing with you?
In digging deeper into the meaning of Luke 9: 37-43 I came across a sermon by Charles Spurgeon called “The Devil’s Last Throw” an entire sermon (and long) on just one verse,
Luke 9:42. The gist of it is this, when someone is very near to coming to salvation in Jesus, the devil will often “throw” them headlong back into their sinful lifestyle in an attempt to keep them from coming to Christ. It is his last “throw” to prevent them from finding eternal life in Christ.
As I’ve been reflecting on this story, and these verses in particular, I’ve wondered is there a correlation for those of us who already believe? I think there is. I think this story has a message of encouragement for us in our journey of sanctification.
All of us have an area of our lives that we desperately wish that Jesus would speak a word and the devil would be gone. Maybe it’s a besetting sin, or a terrible habit, or a chronic illness, or a strained or broken relationship. I don’t know what yours is, but I’m fairly certain we all have that “thing” that feels as if the healing or freedom has been tarrying in coming.
When we’re vulnerable because of life’s circumstances the enemy knows exactly how to “throw” us. He starts with his favorite question, “Is this how a good God treats His children?’’ Often his next question goes something like this, “If He really loves you, why doesn’t He stop this or take it away?” These questions are particularly vexing to those who struggle with chronic depression. As someone who spent years in the dark night of the soul, these were the questions that plagued me. I still don’t have any answers for this, I wish I did. However, like the boy in the story, who couldn’t see because of his convulsing, Jesus was near, even if I couldn’t see him. He still is, He’s always near to his own.
I also see that “one last throw” has a connotation of time that creates difficulty. When I hear “one last” I think, “great, it’s almost over!” But I think that in my concept of time, not God’s, and that’s where this can get problematic.
As I read and re-read this passage I found that the focus is really in verse 43; “And they all were astonished at the greatness of God.” It feels like a bitter pill to think that my suffering is for God’s glory. I’d like to see him glorified some other way, like maybe by abundant blessing in my life! And he certainly does that, but often we are made holy and he is glorified in our trials. The boy’s healing gave glory to God the Father but I think that some of those who were “astonished” also came to saving faith because of what they saw. I have to remember that as a Christian, whatever I’m going through I go through it in front of a watching world, many of whom don’t know Jesus. How I suffer or endure trials tells them about my God.
One thing that has recently been playing over and over in my mind is this; the hero of the story is always God, not me. Living my life in this sinful, broken world is not ultimately about me. Every moment good or bad, is meant to point to my Majestic Heavenly Father. So as miraculous and wonderful as healing and restoration and redemption in my life or yours may be, if these don’t cause us and those around us to worship God, to be “astonished at His greatness” they are mere spectacle. I think when we take what God has done in our lives and make it all about us we perpetuate the need to “see” more and more of his miracles on display. We become like the pharisees demanding another sign.
I think what God really wants is to bring us to the place where we want him only for who he is, and not for what he can do for us. Is He enough if the healing never comes? That’s a hard question and truthfully, some days I feel like he is and some days like he isn’t. But ultimately he most definitely is.
I want to end with the second part of verse 42; “and gave him back to his father.” Find comfort in this, no matter how much in this life the devil knocks you down and throws you about, He is always with you, and someday you will be given back to your Father, perfectly healed and perfectly whole.