When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. "What are you arguing with them about?" he asked. 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." "O unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me." So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?" "From childhood," he answered. "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." "`If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, "He's dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn't we drive it out?" He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer"
If you have ever witnessed someone in an epileptic fit, you'll know it's not pretty. But we should not avoid giving help, if we can. Maybe this story can prepare us to help when such a thing happens. Let's go through it with that in mind.
The crowd following Jesus were not just ignorant, uneducated people. They had the benefit of going to synagogue and hearing God's Law explained every week. They could judge a good teacher when one came along. They could discuss the law with the Scribes who made it their job to interpret God's law for every situation. Here they busily argued about the fit! How should they view the seizure? How could they help without getting themselves unclean, or in touch with evil spirits?
Jesus however proclaimed a plain message; epileptics and sick people are not here so professional faith healers can show how powerful they are. Jesus' healing of the boy was about helping him and his dad to be together quietly so they could find their way in the next few minutes, let alone in the future. And only when the boy and his dad had gone was Jesus ready to answer any questions. When they asked, "Why couldn't we cast this evil spirit out?" His replied was straight. This can only happen after much prayer …
By this action Jesus taught that healing needs quiet prayerfulness and prayerful quietness. He pulled out the plug on the debate. Of course, God can hear your prayers over any din, but when you pray for someone's healing you are saying to God that you are willing to get involved on His terms. That also means quietness, particularly for the one you are helping. Those who are sick need quiet to recover their strength. In the case of this boy some towels, water and a clean pair of undies would be appropriate. That would help. The arguments were a distraction.
Mark tells us that this event occurred immediately after they came down from the mountain. They came back down to sea-level with a thud. But the Kingdom of God, with all its healing power, had surely come into their lives and was unleashing God's amazing love for His belovéd Son upon the world. The epileptic boy was healed and Jesus' disciples could see anew how God's promises were coming true in wonderful ways. Just like the prophet Malachi had once said: "God's sun of righteousness will arise, bringing healing in its wings" and "the sons will be reconciled with the fathers and the fathers with their sons".