At this point in time, I had never even heard of textual criticism let alone delved into anything close to being a substantial textual critique of what we know as the Bible today. This lead me down and into such an amazingly different world (I wrote more on that here); this world was giving me an entirely new take and perspective on not just how I interpreted the life of Christ but how I was then better able to put meat on what was otherwise dry and empty words… i.e. the text was no longer anxiety inducing but became life-giving.
It was awe-inspiring because Christ no longer appeared in this text to be aggressively shaming instead he was merely taking advantage of the moment and teaching for the purpose of preparing and empowering his followers and disciples for what they do not know is yet to come.
Today, approximately 2000 years after the life of Christ, we can zoom out as we know about the death, the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus. We can see that whether or not the boy was truly demon possessed or simply suffered from an undiagnosed form of epilepsy, this was not the focal point of Jesus’ teaching moment.
This verse in Matthew 17 verse 20 is juxtapositioned between Christ foreshadowing His death and soon-to-come crucifixion; His disciples didn’t have the perspective we have of this now; they were not able to put this teaching moment in its proper context at that time.
Today we can Christ was simply taking this moment to show and prove to the disciples that what they think to be impossible is only an unnecessary limitation they’re imposing upon themselves. And that in order for them to be effective in what’s to come (i.e. life without His physical presence) they must at the very least have the faith of a mustard seed to simply begin and continue on.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.” – Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
A quote popularly attributed to Aristotle but actually said by Will Durant is that “We are what we repeatedly do…” Durant goes on to say that “[if this is true] Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Contrary to popular belief, Christ, although born the Messiah, wasn’t an overnight sensation; He spent hours in the Temple; He spent years on end discipling his followers; He took time day in and day out praying, meditating, and/or fasting…
Christ was born overnight; He became the Messiah (read: the King) over the course of 33 years.
In other words: If you want to move mountains and incarnate the love of Christ you humble yourself and therefore give of yourself putting in the necessary hard work day in and day out; all of this motivated by the love of Christ; yet, driven by the very Spirit of God that he put into His followers on the day of His ascension.
How did the true Church begin? The same way Rome was built.