The mothers group met again for bible study today! We arrived a little early and Little E had some time playing in the fellowship hall by herself.
She loved being in the police cars, play-pretending and talking on the walkie-talkie. If only Asher was there too, the two of them always looked so cute together.
Little E then ran to the colourful game station set up for the kindergarten students. As taught in Sparkanauts during one of the warm-up songs, Little E took the bean bag and intuitively placed it on her head, looked at me, and waited for me to sing the song, and as soon as I sang it, she beamed!
The love of balls. Enough said.
After playing with balls for a little while, we went up to the study room for lunch and fellowship. That was Asher and Little E attempting to help each other to open the snack box for some teddy bear biscuits.
And that was caring little Asher offering Little E his biscuit, and Isaac in the foreground enjoying a milk nougat brought back by Aunty Judy from Taiwan, all while we adults were digging into the pot of curry chicken that Linh had cooked for us.
We paired the flavourful spicy curry chicken with freshly toasted brown bread (from Serangoon Central), lunch was such a treat! Too delicious to be described in mere words.
Study Notes on Matthew 17:14-21
The account of the miracle is much curtailed in the passage we read in Matthew’s gospel. A more detailed account is given in Mark 9:14-29.
The account began with a crowd consisting of the scribes, commoners and the disciples, who were disputing about something. Jesus asked them not because He doesn’t know what already was happening, but for the disciples to collect what they were experiencing and report to Him.
From what Mark described, we can understand how much suffering the family and the boy had been going through since the boy’s childhood. The boy did not only have epilepsy, but he was also possessed by a very evil spirit. The disciples had been casting out demons on their own accord, after they had been sent out to do so. But the disciples just couldn’t drive out this demon from the boy. It is believed that the disciples could not drive out the demon because they were trying to do so by their own ability, instead of their faith in God. Hence, their action and words had no power.
Jesus rebuked the big crowd because He saw lots of unbelief and their lack of faith, in not just His disciples, the father of the child, as well as the people who were in the scene.
This account showed us how even the disciples themselves were struggling. At times when we don’t succeed in doing certain things, during such times when we fail, we need to go to the experts who can guide and point us in the right direction. But more importantly, first and foremost, the critical One to turn to is The Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, our Deliverer.
We saw how the disciples failed to drive out the demon due to their lack of faith as well as their self-reliance. If they had relied solely on the power of God working through them, things might have been different. Just like in the case of preachers, if they deliver sermons by the leading of the Spirit, they can move people and the message touches the hearts of people.
Linh raised up that some pastors may not have the gift of preaching. Judy added that often, the truth is that our own hearts are not right. She shared how some members would call up the church to check who is preaching, then decide if they will be coming to church. God can use anyone whom He has ordained to accomplish the Great Commission, moreover, pastors are ordained, consecrated and set apart for the purpose.
There are many times when we are just like the disciples. When something happens, our first reaction will be to try to settle the problems ourselves, using our own ability. We forget that we have God, who is our very present help. It is not the quantity of our faith, but the quality of Christ Jesus Himself, of whom we depend upon. It is also the quality of our faith in the One we trust in. It is who Christ is. He changes what we meant for evil, into something good and beautiful.
It is alright to fail, we don’t always have to be successful. In this passage, we see that through our failings, God is glorified. Through our failures, we learn from our mistakes and turn back to God, relying fully on Him, and in the event and process, we become closer to God. His name be lifted high.
There is great power when there is little faith (small as a mustard seed) as long as God is with us. Even a big mountain can be moved.
Matthew expected his audience to learn from these recorded signs of Jesus, just as the first disciples did when they witnessed them. We who read these accounts in the Bible should be growing in our faith and relationship with Jesus, as the disciples did who first walked with him. How often do needs around us go unmet because we neglect radical trust in God, especially on behalf of others’ needs?
Jesus explicitly attributes their inability to the smallness of their faith (compare 6:30; 8:26; 14:21; 16:8), pointing out that even a mustard seed’s worth of faith would be sufficient to cast out not merely demons but move mountains (17:20; 21:21; 1 Cor 13:2). The disciples already recognised how small a mustard seed was (Matthew 13:32). Ancient peoples thought of mountains as rooted far beneath the earth, so “moving mountains” was a typical Jewish teacher’s image for doing what was virtually impossible. With this illustration, Jesus indicates that even were we casting out mountains rather than demons, we would only be scratching the surface of a life of faith. What could we do with faith greater than that of a tiny mustard seed! Like children who have only begun to walk, most of us have only begun our adventure of faith.