The next instalment of Nicky Gumble’s (and God’s!) wisdom on suffering:
2. God uses suffering to save us
Jesus came to deal with suffering (17:22–23), and ultimately to remove all suffering, through the cross and resurrection.
At the heart of the universe is the suffering of God on the cross: ‘ “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him – and three days later he will be raised alive.” The disciples felt terrible’ (17:22–23, MSG). They did not understand that what humans intended for evil, God intended for good – the saving of many lives. You could say that Jesus ‘lost the battle to win the war’.
What the devil meant for evil, God meant for good. He was able to take the greatest evil ever committed (the killing of the Son of Man) and use it for good (the salvation of humankind).
The healing of the boy with epilepsy (17:18) is a foretaste of a time when there will be no more sickness or suffering. The death and resurrection of Jesus means that no one need ‘be thrown into the fire of hell’ (18:9).
How do we respond?
The importance of faith
There is so much suffering in the world. In this passage we see the terrible suffering (17:15, MSG) of a child with sickness and the resulting suffering of a parent. In this particular case, the disciples’ inability to heal came from their lack of faith (although this is not always the case – some people have prayed for healing with enormous faith but without obvious results). Jesus says that if you have even a tiny bit of faith you can move mountains. ‘Nothing will be impossible for you’ (v.20).
The importance of not causing unnecessary offence
Jesus explains that though he is exempt from paying the tax for the temple (God’s house) because he is God’s own Son, he makes a miraculous payment for both himself and Peter, ‘So that we may not offend them’ (v.27). Although Jesus was willing to cause offence if necessary, he did not want to cause unnecessary offence.
The importance of humility
Greatness in the kingdom of heaven is not about achievement, it is about humbling ourselves like a child (18:4).
The importance of being radical
Jesus calls you to be radical about sin (vv7–9), not in order to earn your salvation but in gratitude.
Lord, thank you that at the heart of the universe is the event where you turned evil into good. Help us to trust you and to put our faith in you. Help us to live with child-like humility, depending upon you. Help us to be radical in our avoidance of sin in gratitude for all that you have done for us.
Matthew 17:14 – 18:9
Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Boy
14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”
17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.
19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” 
Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time
22 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. 23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.
The Temple Tax
24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”
25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes —from their own children or from others?”
26 “From others,” Peter answered.
“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven
18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
Causing to Stumble
6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.”
New International Version (NIV)
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God knows us. He knows all that we go through, and He promises He will give us the strength we need for every situation. Cling to Him with all your strength, however feeble it may seem. He never drops the ball, fumbles or makes a mistake. I guarantee He will get you through anything if you will let Him!
London Christian Police Family
London Christian Police Family