On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 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. I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 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. And all were astounded at the greatness of God.
While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.”
John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.”
At first I couldn’t decide who Jesus was referring to as the “faithless and perverse generation.” Was it the disciples? The man needing help? The crowds? But the more I read the more clear it became that He was referring to the disciples. They just can’t seem to get it right in this chapter! First Peter misspeaks at the transfiguration, then they couldn’t heal the boy, then they couldn’t understand that one of them would betray Jesus, then they were arguing about who among them was the best disciple, and then they stopped a man from casting out a demon just because he wasn’t with them! No wonder Jesus was looking forward to not having to deal with them! Yet, after His initial outburst, He patiently takes the time to explain everything to them.
In our lives there will always be people making mistake after mistake. I know my reaction is usually to get frustrated and maybe even start yelling or crying. But Jesus clearly wants us to be patient and calm, and to do our best to help them understand. And not just the first or second time, but every time. And I know without a doubt that we will appreciate it when others are patient with the mistakes that we are surely going to make as well.