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everlasting restoration

And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he has seizures and he suffers terribly. Often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17: 14-20
Matthew’s eye-witness, first-century, biography of Jesus Christ – Jesus the Anointed One - is well worth reading. This 38-page record rather shockingly discloses that about half-way through his public life Jesus began to teach repeatedly that he must suffer many things from the political, legal and religious establishment, must be killed and on the third day rise again. 

Immediately before that it discloses that this planned death of Jesus was, in fact, the death of someone vastly transcendent. On the mountain his “face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light”. This man, although alive in AD 30 Palestine, also didn’t belong to the realm of time – he spoke on the mountain with Moses (c. BC 1350) and Elijah (c. BC 800).

Death was not only the plan of Jesus for himself but also the plan of His Father God above. All on the mountain heard the words “This is the loved-in-action Son of mine, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” But Matthew then placed on record one more thing about this death: it was to be part and parcel of the restoration of all things – including the restoration of human beings from their misery.


‘No one is restored except through unmerited mercy, and no one is condemned except through merited judgment.’ (Augustine of Hippo, theologian, AD 354-430)
He recorded an actual restoration of one human being – there and then - by this man Jesus. Jesus, Peter, James and John came down from the mountain of transfiguration. A huge crowd awaited them. One man in the crowd came to Jesus and knelt in front of him. He asks for mercy – not for himself but for his son. Mercy? We know what justice is. But mercy? Is mercy better than justice? Could mercy ever be received by those who deserve justice? Even by those justly in a bad place?

Jesus often referred to himself as Son of Man. Now he, the Son of Man, was asked to show mercy to a son of a man. This son of a man in the crowd was in a mess, suffering terribly because he doesn’t care a jot about living any more. His suicidal death was getting closer and closer. So he doesn’t ask for mercy. It’s the man who is his father who asks mercy for his son.

This father had a justified complaint against Jesus’ followers. He’d asked them to heal his son. They couldn’t. Matthew was, without doubt, one of those disciples who was asked but he couldn’t do anything. Nevertheless he, Matthew, faithfully records Jesus’ scathing words about the other disciples – including himself. Jesus said to him and them, “What a faithless and skewed generation. How long am I to be with you - to carry you?”

What’s your experience of the followers of Jesus today? If they are powerless, does this father give you a clue as to what to do? He knelt before Jesus and showed him his son. Jesus removed the death spirit which was within this son of a man. He was restored from that time onwards.

The spirit that increasingly aimed towards death in this son of a man was totally dealt with by the Son of Man – the Son of Man who was teaching that he must die, that his death was his purpose in life, his motive. His purpose was the purpose of the one who really was God’s Son. As well as being the purpose of God.


‘Christ uncrowned himself to crown us and put off his robes to put on our rags. He came down from heaven to take us out of our hell. He came from heaven to earth so as to bring us from earth to heaven.’ (Anon.) 
What do you think? Is there some connection between the motivation by which Jesus had to go to his own death on the cross and our own deepest motivation which wants to escape from this place of death – but fears death itself? Do we need – all of us – to escape this inevitable death by a restoration which no longer fears death? Now? Here?

But how? There a mercy which Christ’s followers can’t give. A mercy which the son didn’t know he needed. Mercy for one who, like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, longs to escape an overpoweringly harmful world. "Bring him to me."

Sinner Syvret

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