Unbelieving and Perverted
June 7, 2021
And Jesus answered and said, "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? (Matthew 17:17).
Rarely do we see such indignation in the spirit of Jesus. He became angry at the money changers in the Temple courtyards. He became disheartened at those who stopped following Him when He outlined the difficulty of being a disciple. He was broken hearted at the tomb of Lazarus. But here, with the disciples and the Scribes, He is spiritually indignant.
Jesus did not give into the petty and childish attitude of name-calling by calling the disciples, Scribes, and other Jews ‘unbelieving and perverted’. He was exposing the spiritual condition of the people.
First, they were unbelieving. They were faithless. In v.20 He said their faith was ‘little’. This does not mean they had not faith, and it didn’t mean they had ‘little’ faith in terms of quantity. It meant their faith had not developed into ‘great’ faith - their faith had no power. They had faith enough in Jesus as Messiah or they would not have followed Him for 3 years. They had faith enough in His authority or they would not have attempted to heal the demon possessed boy. But they didn’t have faith enough to cast the demon out of the boy.
As stated earlier, Jesus had sent them out to minister in the towns and villages of the region and had given them power and authority over sicknesses, diseases, demons, and death (Matthew 10:6-8; Mark 3:15). They were successful in that ministry (Luke 10:17). But it had been a year since that time and that power and authority was gone. Like many Christians today, they had been content to follow Jesus rather than to continue ministering in His power and authority. Like muscles that do not develop strength through exercise, their faith did not develop because of inactivity. But they were not the only ones guilty of this lack of faith. Their entire generation had become faithless believing only in the power of Jesus to heal and not to save. Many rejected Him as Messiah while accepting Him as a miracle worker.
Second, Jesus said they were unbelieving and perverted. The meaning of ‘perverted’ is that of distorted or misshapen like a twisted branch or a clay pot that had not been thrown on the potter’s wheel correctly. It was not just a moral perversion that Jesus was indignant of in the people. He was speaking of a distorted faith that they had. Again, their faith only went as far as the flesh was concerned. Their faith did not convert them into true believing disciples and did not advance the disciples into powerful ministers of the Gospel and His Kingdom. When they should have been continuing to minister alongside Jesus, they were content in following Jesus.
“Lord Jesus, forgive us today of our unwillingness to step out in faith and minister to others as You have ministered to us. Forgive us for wanting to receive Your blessings and not wanting to minister Your blessings to others freely. Change our hearts and open our hands to the needs of others that they too may be blessed by Your Gospel. To Your glory I ask, Amen.”