Today's Reading: Ephesians 5:15-21
Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. (Matthew 17:17-18)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Here, as always, Jesus holds up a mirror before those who falsely believe they can conjure up enough faith toward God to heal this demon-afflicted boy—as though it's our faith and not God Himself who possesses the power to exorcise demons.
When we believe in our own ability to believe we end up no better off than Jesus' disciples who later asked Jesus, “Why couldn't we cast out the demon?” And Jesus gives us our answer, “Because you have little faith...”
We have so little faith that, as Saint Paul writes, we don't even know how to pray to God as we ought to. Instead, the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26)
It's not about how much we believe in God, or how much we trust that Jesus is our Savior. In fact, it's not about us at all! Faith is created and sustained, and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. And as Martin Luther writes in the Small Catechism, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith."
The Holy Spirit creates faith where and when He will through His Word and Sacraments. In this way we don't have to worry about whether we have enough faith. Instead we pray, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!”
O God, forsake me not Your gracious presence lend me; Lord lead Your helpless child; Your Holy Spirit send me That I my course may run. O be my light, my lot, My staff, my rock, my shield — O God, forsake me not! (LSB 731:1)
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