Proper 19 – Series B
This text is wonderful and complex. It is useful to look at it through the lenses of power and humility. Jesus encounters his disciples powerless to drive out a demon, a child who is in the grips of that demon, and a father frantic for any help for his beloved son. Everyone is powerless in that situation except Jesus. He is not powerless. He casts out the demon and raises the boy from death. What makes him different? He cites prayer but in citing prayer he really cites his relationship with the Father, for prayer is simply faith doing what faith does – trusting the Father.
The preacher will want to bring his hearer to the point that the hearer sees him/herself in that same utterly helpless condition and filled with the faith of Jesus. They could be helplessly watching a loved one in the grips of sin, death, and devil. They could be helplessly unable to solve a problem. They could be themselves caught in one of Satan’s many nefarious traps such as addiction, divorce, mental illness, or something else. We are all helpless before these things, either as people who suffer Satan’s evil or as those who cannot help the man or woman whom we love who suffers those things.
That is probably the easy part of this sermon. The next part is the part which requires faith. Jesus says that he can cast this demon out, raise this dead child, love this foolish father and even faithless disciples because he prays. That prayer is the audible manifestation of a deep, eternal, and unmovable relationship he has with the Father. He draws his strength from the Father and that well is infinitely deep. Death, Satan, and all that is wrong with the world is no match for God’s loving strength through Jesus. His ministry is one triumph after another against the degradations of Sin. He is setting the world aright with every lame man healed, every demoniac cleansed, every blind person given sight, etc.