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XXVII.-THE HEALING OF THE LUNATIC
OUR Saviour Christ was a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. The Jews saw in Him no beauty that they should desire. Only once during His life on earth He let His true glory and brightness shine out before the eyes of men. This was at His Transfiguration on the Holy Mount,' in the presence of St. Peter, St. James, and St. John. Then "His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light,' and Moses and Elias were there to behold His glory, and to share it.
But our Lord's enemies took advantage of His being away. The other disciples had been left at the foot of the mountain, and a boy, who was out of his mind and vexed by an unclean spirit, was brought to them. They tried to cast out the devil, but they could not do it; for their Master was away, the three chief Apostles were away, and their faith was not strong enough. The scribes were sure to triumph over them, and there was much talking and questioning, when suddenly our Lord came down among them from the Holy Mount. Thus long ago, when the Israelites were in confusion, Moses had come down among them from Mount Sinai, where he had been with God.
St. Mark tells us, in chapter ix. 14–27, how Jesus Christ healed the child whom His disciples could not heal. We also read the history in St. Matthew, xvii. 14-21, and St. Luke, ix. 37-42.
And when He came to His disciples, He saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. And straightway all the people, when they beheld Him, were greatly amazed, and running to Him saluted Him. Anil He asked the scribes, What question ye with them? And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto Thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; and wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to Thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto Me. And they brought him unto Him: and when he saw Him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.
And He asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if Thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.
When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.
We are not clearly told why the people were amazed when they beheld our Lord. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, his face shone; and it may be that the face of Christ was still shining with something of the excellent glory which the Father had poured upon Him on the Holy Mount. The scribes had got the better of the disciples, but they shrank back before the Master. He spoke, and said, “What question ye with them?' and they had no answer to make.
So one of the people came forward, and said that his son was subject to fits, caused by an evil spirit, who had possessed him since he was a child. At Christ's word they bring the boy before Him, but at first that Holy Presence only made him worse. Satan has great wrath when his time is short. He inade his victim suffer as much as he could, as long as he was in his power.
We are sure of our Lord's desire to subdue His enemy, and set free the suffering child. Nothing hindered Him but the unbelief of those who prayed to Him without full faith in their hearts. So He began to talk to the father, that He might draw out and strengthen such faith as he had. Very weak it was. The father said, If Thou canst do anything,' as though the difficulty had been on God's side. Our Lord answered, " If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. Nothing but man's want of faith puts a stop to God's mercy.
But the father had some faith, though it was only like smoking flax, and the breath of Jesus kindled it into a flame. At last the man cried out, Lord, I believe.' And as his faith grew, so did his humility. He went on, `Help Thou my unbelief. Christ wanted nothing more; and by His Almighty power He drove out the evil spirit, and forbade him to come back again. The spirit was loth to go, and he did all the harm he could as he went away. He tare the child, and left him looking like a dead person. Our Lord Jesus always cast out devils by His word. He did so now.
But when the evil spirit was gone away, He put forth His hand, and giving the child fresh life by His touch, He raised him up.
This miracle shews us Christ's power in the world of spirits. Some devils are stronger and more wicked than others. The spirit we have read of to-day was very strong, too strong for the disciples; but their Master's word drove him out at once. And Christ spoke that word as soon as the child's father made his confession of faith. Without that confession He could do nothing, any more than He had been able to work miracles in unbelieving Nazareth. But everything is possible to Christ's mercy and man's faith.
XXVIII.-THE MONEY IN THE FISH'S
We read in the Book of Exodus, how God appointed that at the numbering of the children of Israel every man above twenty years of age should
half a shekel as a ransom for his soul. This was the collection that Moses the servant of God laid upon Israel in the wilderness,' with which King Joash repaired the Temple.» In later times it was paid every year, and it was used for the expenses of the Temple services. St. Matthew St. Matt. xii. 45.
2 Exodus, xxx. 11-16. 32 Chron. xxiv. 9.
tells us (chap. xvii. 24-27.) how our Lord was once applied to for it, and what took place then.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your Master pay tribute ? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute ? of their own children, or of strangers ? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money : that take, and give unto them for Me and thee.
This tribute was different from the tribute collected by the Publicans for the Roman Emperor. It was not like the taxes we pay to the Queen, but like Church rates paid for the expenses of public worship, and keeping our churches in repair. Capernaum was the place in which our Lord Jesus lived during His ministry; and one day, as He and His disciples were returning home to it, the collectors of these temple dues stopped St. Peter, and asked him whether his Master did not pay tribute. St. Peter said Yes. He always was ready to speak, but now he was over-hasty. A little time ago he had confessed that his Master was the Son of the living God. If He were a Son, why should He pay tribute to His Father? The kings of the earth only take tribute of strangers--that is, of those who are not of their own family; and their children are free. St. Peter might have known