The disciples could not heal the epileptic (Mt 17:15-17:16)

“The kneeling man said.

‘Lord!

Have mercy on my son!

He is an epileptic!

He suffers terribly!

He often falls

Into the fire.

He often falls

Into the water.

I brought him

To your disciples.

But they were not able

To cure him.’”

 

καὶ λέγων Κύριε, ἐλέησόν μου τὸν υἱόν, ὅτι σεληνιάζεται καὶ κακῶς ἔχει· πολλάκις γὰρ πίπτει εἰς τὸ πῦρ καὶ πολλάκις εἰς τὸ ὕδωρ.

καὶ προσήνεγκα αὐτὸν τοῖς μαθηταῖς σου, καὶ οὐκ ἠδυνήθησαν αὐτὸν θεραπεῦσαι.

 

The story of the man with the incurable epileptic son can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 9:17-18, Luke, chapter 9:38-40, and here in Matthew, but there are minor differences in all 3 accounts.  Here it is the kneeling man, and not someone from the crowd who yells out to Jesus.  He addressed Jesus as the Lord (καὶ λέγων Κύριε).  He wanted Jesus to have mercy on his son (ἐλέησόν μου τὸν υἱόν), who was an epileptic (ὅτι σεληνιάζεται).  Epileptics were often considered to be possessed by the devil.  Even today, we are still unsure of the exact cause of epilepsy seizures.  This man’s son suffered very badly (καὶ κακῶς ἔχει).  He often fell into a fire (πολλάκις γὰρ πίπτει εἰς τὸ πῦρ) and into water (καὶ πολλάκις εἰς τὸ ὕδωρ).  Then there is the kicker that he had asked Jesus’s disciples to cure his son (καὶ προσήνεγκα αὐτὸν τοῖς μαθηταῖς σου), but they were not able to cure him (καὶ οὐκ ἠδυνήθησαν αὐτὸν θεραπεῦσαι).  Why were the disciples of Jesus unable to cure his son?

The servant of Yahweh suffers for us (Isa 53:4-53:6)

“Surely he has borne our infirmities.

He has carried our diseases.

Yet we accounted him stricken.

He was struck down by God.

He was afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions.

He was crushed for our iniquities.

Upon him

Was the punishment

That made us whole.

By his bruises

We are healed.

All of us

Like sheep

Have gone astray.

We have turned

To our own way.

Yahweh has laid on him

The iniquity of us all.”

According to Second Isaiah, this suffering servant has become a scapegoat for all of us, at least the Israelites. He bears their infirmities and diseases. He suffers their illness for them. God has stricken and afflicted him. He was wounded for their transgressions and crushed for their sins. His punishment made them whole. His bruises healed them. They were like sheep that had gone astray. He carries the iniquity of all of them. Who is this servant? How can it be Israel saving Israel? You can see why the early Christian writers applied these same ideas about this suffering servant in Second Isaiah to Jesus Christ in a more universal appeal.

Prayer of suffering (Isa 38:12-38:15)

“My dwelling is plucked up.

My dwelling is removed from me

Like a shepherd’s tent.

Like a weaver,

I have rolled up my life.

He cuts me off from the loom.

From day to night,

You bring me to an end.

I cry for help

Until morning.

Like a lion,

He breaks all my bones.

From day to night,

You bring me to an end.

I clamor

Like a swallow,

Like a crane.

I moan

Like a dove.

My eyes are weary

With looking upward.

O Lord!

I am oppressed!

Be my security!

But what can I say?

He has spoken to me.

He himself has done it.

All my sleep has fled.

Because of the bitterness of my soul.”

Second Isaiah has King Hezekiah suffering a lot. He has lost his dwelling so that all he has is a tent, like a shepherd. His life has been rolled up so that he is like a weaver who cannot get to his loom. He suffers both day and night as he cries all night. His bones are broken as if from a lion’s attack. He clamors like a swallow or a crane and moans like a dove. He is weary from looking up. He wanted Yahweh to be his security because he was oppressed. What can he say? Yahweh has told him about what he has done to him. He cannot sleep because of his bitter soul. This king is depressed.

Has Yahweh forgotten me? (Ps 77:4-77:9)

“You keep my eyelids from closing.

I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

I consider the days of old.

I remember the years long ago.

I commune with my heart in the night.

I meditate and search my spirit.

‘Will Yahweh spurn me forever?

Will Yahweh never again be favorable?

Has his steadfast love ceased forever?

Are his promises at an end for all time?

Has God forgotten to be gracious?

Has he in anger shut up his compassion?’”

Selah

Asaph or this psalmist suffers from mental anguish. He feels that God has forgotten him. He could not close his eyes. He was troubled as he remembered the good old days. He was self reflective, searching his heart. He could hardly speak. He had a series of questions about God. Was he spurned forever? Would Yahweh never be favorable to him again? Had God forgotten his promises? Had God forgotten his steadfast love and graciousness to him? Was God so angry that he could not be compassionate? This is a questioning troubled person. This meditative section ends with the musical interlude pause of Selah.