01/26/17 Unbelieving and Rebellious

READING: Exodus 14-15, Matthew 17

“How long must I put up with you?”

Matthew 17:17

He must have been a desperate father. His son was demon-possessed. Other gospel writers tell us that the son was often thrown into the fire and into the water to destroy him, and he had suffered from this condition since his childhood (Mark 9:14-29). The father’s hope must have increased, though, when he began to hear the rumors about Jesus. I can just hear the comments: “I’ve heard that this Jesus has power over demons.” “They say he speaks like nobody else speaks, and demons flee.” “I met a man who used to be blind and mute, but Jesus freed him from a demon.” “You need to see the man who used to be crazy and running among the tombs. Jesus cast an entire legion of demons out of him.” 

So, it made sense for the man to bring his son to Jesus’ disciples. Jesus had sent them out earlier to heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons (Matt. 10:8), and word must have spread about their power. The father’s heart must have been pounding as he brought his son to them, deeply hoping that his family’s demonic nightmare was just about over. That was not the case, though. The disciples did not pray (Matt. 17:21, Mark 9:29), nor did they have faith to believe God would defeat the enemy. If they had faith at all, it was faith in themselves; after all, they had been successful exorcists in the past – so surely they thought they would be successful this day.   

Their failure not only grieved the father, but it also frustrated Jesus in a perfectly righteous way: ““You unbelieving and rebellious generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you?” (Matt. 17:17). The disciples were so doubting that they almost blended in with the crowds that did not even claim to be Christ followers. They could have moved mountains with small faith placed clearly in God, but they didn’t have even that kind of faith. Jesus thus rebuked not only the demon, but also His disciples.

I can only wonder if Jesus ever feels that way about me.


  • Ask God to help you see yourself as you truly are – even if you, too, are placing your faith more in yourself than in God.
  • Take some time today to “retreat” and be alone with God, as Peter, James, and John did on the Mount of Transfiguration.

PRAYER: “Lord, grant me faith in You and You alone.”

TOMORROW'S READING: Exodus 16-18, Matthew 18:1-20