Recall from our previous discussion on Matthew 16:4 that a “generation” is characterized by certain assumptions and beliefs, and in Biblical usage it is not necessarily to be understood in a temporal, linear sense in the way we think of the generations of “depression-era”, “baby boomers”, “x-ers”, and “millenials”. Remember too that true salvation is being redeemed from the generations of this world by being born again into His generation, and those who are a part of His generation are described as saints. In contrast, how did Jesus describe the generations of mankind in Mat 16:4? How does He describe them here in Mat 17:17? What does He mean by “perverted”? See Luk 23:2, Acts 13:8,10, 20:30 where the same Greek word is used to mean misled, turned away, made crooked, distorted (NIV). What does Jesus’ use of this word communicate about the way the generations of this world perceive what is real and true? Was it only with the man and crowd of people that Jesus was exasperated in Mat 17:17? See Mat 17:20 and think: what do all three synoptic gospels record as immediately preceding His statement? See Mat 17:16, Mar 9:18-19, and Luk 9:40-41. Why was Jesus especially exasperated at this time? Hint: from where had He just come? Cf. Moses’ exasperation with Aaron and the people after descending from Sinai to discover how quickly they had ceased to believe and perverted their ways; see Exo 32:7,19,25, and Deut 18:15. As in Aaron’s failure, how had the disciple’s unbelief and failure likewise resulted in them becoming a “derision among their enemies” (Exo 32:25)? See again Mar 9:14. In what ways has the unbelief and failure of many today who are church leaders caused God’s people to become a derision among their enemies? Why is that? See again Mat 17:17,20. In regard to the following, how has their understanding become perverted so that they are as helpless as the world in providing true deliverance: Humanistic psychology? The theory of evolution? Feminism and the role of women? Insurance, healthcare, and the avoidance at all costs of suffering in this life? Materialism, entertainment, amusement, pleasure-seeking, and living for this world? Is it possible that like the disciples we are also unbelieving and our understanding of what is real and true is equally perverted, so that as a result we are unable to provide complete deliverance for many who are in need?
How long had the boy been afflicted with his condition? See Mar 9:21. Considering the pitiful and near hopeless state of the man’s only son, how would the inability of the disciples to provide deliverance for the boy have affected his faith? How is that like so many people today? Did he lose all faith in Jesus because of His disciples’ failure? By not giving up but carrying his need directly to Jesus, how was he an example for us about what we should do when those who are supposed to represent the Lord fail us? How do his actions illustrate the nature of a true seeker? Cf. Deut 4:29-30, Rom 3:3-4. When it seems that God has not heard and all of our efforts have failed, why is it so important that we continue to seek God and not give up? See again Mat 17:17, the context of Deut 4:29-30, as well as Job 40:8, Lam 3:37-42, and Deut 32:4-5. What words that the man spoke to Jesus indicate his wavering faith? See Mar 9:22. How were his words to the Lord “if you can do anything” like so many people’s today? What did Jesus say to the man to correct his faulty, misled, distorted, crooked, and perverted understanding that there may be good things that God is unable or unwilling to do for us? See Mar 9:23. How are His words an important reminder for us as well? Do we really believe that all things are possible to him who believes? Considering how long the boy had been afflicted and the inability of even his close associates to help the man’s son, should we ever give up hope for the Lord’s deliverance? Can we say with Job, “Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15)? What was the man’s response to Jesus’ chastisement for his wavering faith? See Mar 9:24. Again, what does this illustrate about the nature of a true seeker? How should his response also be our response when a situation seems hopeless and it seems that God will not act for us?
1. Literally, “those who rise against them”.↩