So often we make Jesus into this “spiritual guru” who is unfazed by what is happening around Him, but calmly teaches a parable and quietly waits for the “light bulb” to come on in His disciples. We don’t expect Jesus to become angry or, even less, to show frustration. But, the Jesus that we make up is not the real Jesus Who was filled with passion and zeal for His Father’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven” (See Matthew 6:10), while He walked the earth He created. We read about Jesus’ righteous indignation when He makes a whip and forcibly cleanses His Father’s House from the money changers because His Father’s House “is called a house of prayer”, but they “made it a den of robbers” (See Malachi 1:1-3, Matthew 21:12-14, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-46, and John 2:14-17).
We also read about Jesus being angry at the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of the day. According to Jesus, it was very wrong for the religious aristocracy to, among other things, insist “you must obey them and do everything they tell you” and Jesus cautions, “But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them” (See Matthew 23:3-4ff). Another example of Jesus’ anger is recorded before He heals the boy with “an unclean spirit”. We can almost hear the anger and frustration in His voice:
“And when they [Jesus, Peter, James and John] came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes [religious elite] arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw [Jesus], were greatly amazed and ran up to Him and greeted Him. And He asked them, ‘What are you arguing about with them?’ And someone from the crowd answered Him, ‘Teacher, I brought my son to You, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.’ 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.’ And they brought the boy to Him. And when the spirit saw Him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell to the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘IF You can! All things are possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out [with tears] and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ And when Jesus saw that the crowd came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.’ And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He entered the house, His disciples asked Him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?” And He said to them, ‘This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer [and fasting]’” (Mark 9:14-29 [E.S.V.]).
As we read in the previous post, Jesus healing this boy is also recorded in Matthew 17:14-20 and Luke 9:37-43. Maybe it’s just me, but I find it fascinating that the shortest Gospel [Mark] has the most information about this event. Who Is Jesus talking to when He says, ‘O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?” (v. 19)? First, let’s establish who Jesus is NOT talking to. Jesus is not talking to the father of the boy who needs to be healed. When Jesus talks to the father I hear concern and compassion for both the father and his son. Jesus is concerned about how long the boy has been suffering (v. 21). I also hear compassion in Jesus’ voice when He encourages the father to grow in his faith in Him (v. 23).
Jesus always lifts up (v. 27) those who are downcast and heavy laden [Peter should have known this from personal experience (See Matthew 14:22-33)]. Isaiah 42:3 testifies of Jesus, God’s Chosen Servant: “a bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not quench; He will faithfully bring justice.”
Jesus Himself urges everyone who needs help: “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
So who was Jesus angry at? Who belonged to the “faithless generation” who frustrated God Himself? To answer this, we need to look at what happened prior to the healing of this boy. We will look at the prior events that led up to Jesus healing this boy next time. HINT: Think of those who should have known better.