And 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." (Matthew 17:17)
And he answered them, "O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me." (Mark 9:19)
Jesus answered, "O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here." (Luke 9:41)
Those words feel like a rebuke to me and sound to me like Jesus is frustrated with the disciples and all of us. A footnote in my study Bible is helping me to figure out what to do with these words. The note on Mark 9:19 in my Bible says this:
The fundamental problem of the people (the opponents, the spiritually oppressed, and even the disciples) is that they are faithless. Jesus' burdened expression echoes that of the prophets (E.g. Deut. 32:5,20; Isa. 6:11, Jer 5:21-22).
I just looked up the Old Testament references, and they are mostly the Lord talking about the people's lack of belief that He will do what He promises.
I think it IS a rebuke to the disciples and to me for our lack of belief in God's power and faithfulness. Looking at my own life, I know that my faith is weak. I'm reading in scripture about God parting the Red Sea and sending manna from heaven, and yet I don't believe that God can save people who are lost, or that He will provide for me.
This morning I was thinking how frustrated that I get sometimes with my first graders when they won't even try to read a book that I know they can read. I wonder if that is some of how Jesus felt, or what God feels (does God get frustrated? He sure sounds frustrated a lot in the Old Testament with those fickle Israelites) when we have access to what we need (a relationship with the God of the universe), but we stumble and refuse to even try.
That begs the question--why? Why do my kids not try to read when they can? Fear of messing up? Nervousness that I am watching? Honestly lacking confidence that they can?
What do I not have faith? Fear of being disappointed--because God doesn't always heal people or do a miracle? Nervousness that I will look stupid for believing? Lacking that confidence that God will do it?
I still don't know the balance of common sense and faith. Does common sense even enter into it? Yet I can see in the gospels that miracles were done when people displayed faith, and I can hear in Jesus' words that I need to risk faith much more often than I do.
The comforting part of the story is Jesus' request that they bring the boy to Him. Jesus heals the child anyway--in response to the father's faith and:
"And all were astonished at the majesty of God." (Luke 9:43)