And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?” Matthew 17:17
Imagine for a moment the disappointment that Moses must have felt after having been in the presence of the Lord God on the mountain for 40 days, to come down to find the children of Israel steeped in the idolatrous worship of a golden calf (Exodus 32). Moses was so upset by the shameless display that he actually smashed the stone tablets that contained the Law written by the very hand of God (Exodus 32;19). In our text for Sunday we find Jesus, coming down from His communion with Moses and Elijah and the very voice of His Father. As He does He is descending more than just a physical mountain; like Moses, He returns to find the enemy has triumphed over His faithless followers. Imagine how jarring it must have been to His heart to come from the heights of heaven to return to such an unbelieving company of disciples who were unable to cast a demon out of a young child.
There is an eternal difference between the experiences of Moses and Jesus, however. Moses came down the mountain, leaving God at the top; the disciples however, did not leave Jesus on the mountain; He came down with them. Now their failure is transformed into an opportunity to learn from Jesus and grow in faith, as the transfigured Christ who is the “Beloved Son of God,” now comes down the mountain as the “Son of man,” to teach His disciples how to live by faith, suffer, and help and serve others.
Faced with a demon-possessed boy, Jesus teaches that if the disciples had but a small amount of faith, nothing would be impossible for them (17:20). There is one reason that God’s people are not walking an overcoming, victorious walk; there is one reason that God’s people are not serving one another in love; there is one reason that Christians are not living as we ought – it is faithlessness. The good news though is that we can accomplish great things with even the smallest measure of faith. This is where we find the answer to our inability. The Father’s command in verse 5: “Listen to Him,” necessitates obedience, and obedience requires faith. May we exercise our mustard seed of faith to obey the Lord Jesus Christ.