Saturday, August 9, 2014

Matthew 17:14-20: Jesus' Frustration, Rebuke, and Lesson about Faith

Matthew 17:14-20

       As a desperate father approaches our Lord, we see an example of faithful, loving intercession. This father knows that Jesus is the only one who can heal his son, and the father approaches Jesus in faith asking for His mercy, "Lord, have mercy on my son."  Notice, also, that the father briefly mentions the disciples' failure. In stark contrast, we see Jesus express frustration in the disciples' lack of faith when He says,"You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you?. . ."  Quickly, then, Jesus rebukes the demon and instantly heals the child. The disciples do not, however, remain silently scolded and try to figure it out on their own.  They privately approach our Lord and ask questions about what they did wrong. If we recall many moments in the gospels, it is in private prayer and conversation that Jesus reveals very important instruction and truth to His disciples (e.g. the explanation of the parables in Luke, the Transfiguration, prayer in Gethsemane, etc.), and verses 19-20 are no different. Jesus says to them that they lack in faith, for it is true faith in Jesus that makes the impossible possible. The faith Jesus mentions, however, is not the size of a great mountain but the size of the smallest mustard seed.

The disciples were called by God, listened, and gave up everything to follow our Lord.  Naturally, we assume that they had extraordinary faith because they were so close to Jesus. But their faith lacked, as does ours. That the disciples struggled and failed many times is comforting.  For I know there is hope for me and many others that tend to get our faith wrong, fall into temptation, and sink when we are called to faithfully walk with Christ.  The key to discipleship is to ask God questions in prayer, seek His direction in faithful fellowship, and pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to guide us and reveal what we need to grow closer to Jesus. When we follow the model of the disciples' failures, we grow from their successes. In every instance but one (Judas Iscariot), the disciples realize their failure and ask the Lord for forgiveness.   Jesus’ mercy is without measure for those who seek it.  Let us all listen to our failing moments, seek God’s guidance in prayer and fellowship, and plant our mustard seeds of faith.

And audio file of this commentary is located here.