A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
I’m real good at hiding things from people. It’s a skill that I was taught early in life. In my family it was perfected through practice, practice, practice.
This was in connection with the volume that we used in our family. We shouted and then we got louder when that didn’t work. We shouted with our voices but hid our real feelings beneath.
We shouted to get the attention that we believed we needed, we deserved. And our number one need was attention followed by a close second need of affirmation. We wanted to be seen and heard. Told that we were important. That someone was listening. But this wasn’t the root of our problem.
We wanted to be valued.
When this father starts describing his sons’ predicament, he loves and values his son. We know this by the way he describes his son. He talks not with cold facts and data, but in deep emotional words.
Seizes him – it takes possession of him, wraps its evil hands around him.
Throws him to the ground – once it takes hold of the boy, it drags him to the ground.
He foams at the mouth – it causes the boy to convulse, to distort his face and entire body.
Gnashes his teeth – the boy cries out, screams a blood-curdling shriek followed by grinding his teeth.
Becomes rigid – after all this happens, his boy looks like a dried-up twig, all evidence of life has been drained out, leaving his body wasting away.
This evil spirit transforms the son that the father has known and loved every day into something horrid, twisted, and distorted. The loved son’s life has been stolen and turned into something altogether different and disgusting.
Is it any wonder that the father seeks out Jesus? What wouldn’t a father do to restore his son? The boy who he held in his arms as an infant. Fed him on his lap. Played catch, hide-and-seek, tag. They had many great memories that were all overshadowed by the ugly present reality. The once loving, intimate father-son relationship had been replaced by distress, distortion, and desperation.
In a way, this is how God the Father sees and thinks about us. We were made to have a loving, intimate, transparent relationship with our heavenly Father. But we are lost, broken, possessed by evil. And there’s nothing that he won’t do to restore us back to himself.
That’s why the father brings his boy to Jesus. And why God the Father sends his son Jesus.
Jesus is the only one who can drive out the evil that has made its home within us. He’s the only one with the power to remake us like new. He’s the only one who can keep the evil out once and for all. He’s the only one who can restore the broken child to his loving father.
Healing this fathers’ possessed son isn’t dependent on the father’s ability, power, or skill. It’s not based on his completing some great feat or quest to show himself worthy of a miracle. It’s not going to happen when the father collects the appropriate number of spiritual box-tops or coupons. It’s not going to happen when the father scratches off a spiritual lottery ticket.
No, it happens when the father brings his son to Jesus. That’s what’s needed. That’s what’s necessary because healing and restoration starts and ends with Jesus. Yes, you can gain a certain amount of freedom and healing from breaking with the old and starting with the new. But ultimate healing, ultimate restoration, ultimate joy, and hope come from Jesus.
It happens when we admit our failure and weakness, throwing ourselves at the feet of Jesus, looking only to him for restoration. Not based on anything that we’ve done or earned, but totally on his reaching out to us. His leaning into us. We bring only the junk in our trunk and our unworthiness.
There’s an old hymn that says it so well.
and from my stricken heart with tears
two wonders I confess,
the wonders of redeeming love
and my unworthiness.
And that’s how we can approach our great heavenly Father with both humility and boldness. We are totally incapable, but he still invites us to come. Our humility isn’t based on our worthiness and abilities. Our boldness is based on who he is and his call to come to him.
 Beneath the Cross of Jesus, Elizabeth Cecilia Clephane (1868)