How Much Longer?
Luke 9:37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39 Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40 I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astounded at the greatness of God.
Jesus comes down from the mountain with the three and is again met by a great crowd. What follows is not entirely clear, but a man shouts out from the crowd. Was this in desperation, or in anger that the disciples had not been able to heal, we do not now. We also do not know exactly who the “faithless and perverse generation” might be, but we can speculate. There were nine disciples who had not gone up on the mountain with Jesus and there is concern that they may not be developing the faith necessary to serve Jesus. The words of Jesus are a quote from the Old Testament where God is disappointed in the lack of faith among the Israelites; they had seen many miracles and yet did not believe.
The question “How much longer?” lingers with us. It comes out of Jesus’ frustration with the disciples, the crowd, and even the father of the boy. While the people were astounded at the greatness of God, they should have been astounded long ago!
Sometimes I wonder about the Lord’s patience with all of us. That great sigh of “how much longer?” may come from him when he witnesses our lack of faith. Even when we have experienced the faithfulness of God in our lives, there are new mountains to climb and circumstances that may make us reflect very little faith. How easy it seems to be to forget what has been done in the past and somehow think that God has abandoned us in this moment.
We are to be on this journey with Jesus, being formed into his disciples. I’m afraid that he may look at us and wonder whether we are really developing our faith or not. Where would I find myself? Would I be up on the mountain of transfiguration watching the identity of Christ being revealed, or down at the bottom of the mountain, trying to do ministry but failing miserably? I think that Jesus is calling all of his disciples to have mountain-top faith. This is what will carry them through the difficult days that lie ahead.
Over and over again Jesus has been revealed to us. We have the privilege of having the Bible. Most Christians in the west have multiple copies and translations. How long do we have to keep reading until we develop the kind of faith that Jesus is looking for? We have the opportunity to go to church and participate in worship and small group study. We can watch all kinds of programs on television and the internet. Everything that we might want is at our disposal to grow spiritually and that just might be why Jesus would as, “How much longer?”
We are supposed to live and respond in our daily lives like people of great faith. We’ve been given every opportunity that there is to know Christ and to grow in our faith. It really is up to us as to what we will do with that faith.
Lord, Oh how I want to have the kind of faith that you want me to have. Please, help me to grow in you. Amen.