Bible study: Jesus and the Loony

This afternoon I am leading a Bible study at a house church meeting. It will be on Matthew 17:14-20. Its the story of Jesus and the loony boy. The original word means “moonstruck” or “lunatic” but its pretty obvious he had a demon and Jesus kicks it out.

Its an amazing story that seems pretty straightforward; most probably a generational demon that entered through his dad mucking around in mischief, the kind of pesky demon that needs a little more turbo power to expel than your average demon. Jesus is bigger than the boogieman and the disciples need to exercise more faith. In fact, that kind of faith, says Jesus, can move mountains.

But then Jesus goes and ruins a perfectly straightforward miracle and its subsequent lesson by quoting some texts from the Old Testament and then all of a sudden, the story takes a new turn. The stories Jesus weaves into the present encounter are from Deuteronomy 32 (You unbelieving and perverse generation”) and Numbers 14 (“How long will I put up with you”). They are stories that, very much like the Transfiguration account that couches this story of the loony, have connections with clouds, mountains, rocks, tents, and even Joshua who turns up in both stories. Interesting, knowing that Jesus name is actually “Joshua”

Anyway, the story moves like a Dan Brown novel from this point and creates all kinds of questions about what mountain, if any, Jesus is referring to that needs moving. And is there a relation between the loony boy and the nation of Israel. And what exactly is Jesus adding to the interpretation of this account that we should know.

So, if you are coming along this evening to the house church meeting, you have a few clues as to where the study will lead. Take a look also at the mountain in Daniel 2, the mountain in Matthew 21:21 which I see as referring to Israel, and read the same account of the Transfiguration and the loony boy in all the Synoptics – where you will notice exactly the same sequence of events. All very interesting. See you tonight. Dont forget to bring your Bible


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • Very Interesting. It seems you are an avid fan of Dan Brown…
    You have this curiosity of exploring something between words written in a bible.
    I also love to hear those “behind things”.
    Whatever it may be… Hope God will also help us to unpuzzled things up!

  • andrew says:

    thanks Davina.
    no – not a fan at all of dan brown but i did watch Angels and Demons a few weeks ago and i admire a good story.
    my curiosity stands not in what is written between words in the bible but rather what lies behind what Jesus said. Or in other words, did Jesus just pull out a few OT quotes to make the conversation interesting, or show off his knowledge, or was he pulling an historical account out of the Jewish history to illuminate the current situation.
    I wish more people would have this kind of curiosity . . . dont you?

  • So did you come up with any thoughts about what we – in the contemporary West – should make of demon possession?

  • andrew says:

    Hi David. I dont think a Western perspective adds much light to the subject in every case. Some cases, it might be something different, but in cases i have come across in Western culture, like when young people have come to us complaining of voices in their heads telling them to kill people and could we please tell the voices to stop, it has been genuine demon possession and the solution has been effective and lasting.
    not much discussion on this except when and how to get rid of the demons and how to do it effectively.

  • Yah, somehow when I read a scriptures I always feel that there are simple meanings/ways behind those lines….

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