A man came up to Jesus, knelt down before him, and said,
“Lord, have pity on my son, who is a lunatic and suffers severely;
often he falls into fire, and often into water.
I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
Jesus said in reply,
“O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you?
How long will I endure you?
Bring the boy here to me.”
Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him,
and from that hour the boy was cured.
Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said,
“Why could we not drive it out?”
He said to them, “Because of your little faith.
Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain,
‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.”
It is a less than empathic Jesus who with exasperation exclaims: O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with? How long will I endure you? This is a rather different kind of Jesus from the one we’re used to encountering in the gospels and it is difficult not to simply attribute impatient rudeness to one believed to be sinless and perfect. We know of his stern and unsparing words to the prideful and hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees, but Jesus is usually extremely patient and understanding in the face of human weakness. The disciples’ lack of faith seems to fall into this latter category and so why the exasperation? Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer except to point out that despite his frustration with the disciples he comes to the aid of the boy and drives the demon from him. And so perhaps there is some consolation in knowing that even if Jesus becomes exasperated with us he won’t wash his hands of us but will still impart his saving grace and thereby strengthen and augment our still weak and faltering faith.