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