The Boy With Dumb Spirit
( Originally Published 1915 )
WHEN JESUS and his three disciples came to the village at the foot of the mountain, they found a great crowd gathered around the other nine disciples, and some of the Jewish teachers of the law, the scribes, talking with them very earnestly. Some of the glory of the last night still lingered upon the face of Jesus, and as the people looked upon him, they were filled with wonder and bowed down before him.
Out of the crowd came a man running, whose face showed that he was in great trouble. He knelt before Jesus and cried out :
"Teacher, I brought to you my son, in whom is an evil spirit, which has made him dumb. I pray you have mercy on him, and cure him, for he is my only child. Often the spirit seizes him and dashes him down. It makes him foam at the mouth and grind his teeth. He is wasting away, and I fear will die unless help comes to him. I brought him here, hoping to find you. But you were away, and I spoke to these men, your disciples. They tried to cast out the evil spirit, but they could not. Now that you have come, will you not help me?"
"O you people who will not believe, and who turn away from God!" said Jesus, "how long must I be with you? How long must I have patience with you? Bring your boy to me."
They brought the boy to Jesus; but no sooner did the boy see him, than the wicked spirit threw him into a spasm. He fell on the ground, his body twitching and tearing; and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.
"How long has he been like this?" asked Jesus of the boy's father.
"Ever since he was a little child," the man answered, "and it has many times thrown him into fire and into water, almost killing him. If you can do anything, do take pity on us both and help us."
`If I can!' " said Jesus, taking up the man's word. "Do you not know that all things can be done for the one who believes?"
"I do believe," cried out the father of the boy. "0 Master, help my lack of faith!"
Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering around, and he spoke to the evil spirit.
"Deaf and dumb spirit," he said, "I command you at once come out of this boy, and never again trouble him!"
With a loud cry, the evil spirit threw the boy into a violent spasm of pain and then left him. The boy lay on the ground, looking like a corpse. In fact, many who were standing near, as they saw him, said, "The boy is surely dead!"
But Jesus took his hand, lifting him from the ground. The boy stood up and walked away well, free from the evil spirit and able to speak.
When Jesus was alone with his disciples in the house, they asked him, "Why was it that we could not drive out the evil spirit from the boy?"
"It was because you have so little faith. I tell you that if your faith were only the size of a grain of mustard-seed, you could say to this mountain, `Move from this place to that,' and move it would; for nothing would be impossible to you."
But he added, "An evil spirit of this kind is harder to drive away than most. Only by special prayer can it be cast out."
Soon after this Jesus left that place at the foot of the mountain, and led his disciples toward the south. They saw that he was now going in the direction of Jerusalem, and were quite sure that there he would set up his throne and kingdom. But Jesus knew what they were thinking of, and he said to them,
"Listen carefully to my words. The Son of Man is to be given into the hands of his enemies. They shall kill him, and three days after he has been killed, he shall rise again to life."
But the disciples could not understand these words, for they would not believe that he was to die, and they were afraid to ask him what these sayings meant.