And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.Matthew 17:14-17
And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.Mark 9:14-19
And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him. And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child. And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him. And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not. And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither.Luke 9:37-41
This event, like several others recorded in the gospels, is better understood by looking at all three witness accounts. Some have taken parts of this event and used it to blame people for their unbelief and even try to say that Jesus rebukes those that don’t have enough faith in Him to help them. This is ridiculous!
I would like to address the most volatile phrase in these passages — When Jesus speaks against the faithless and perverse generation, He is NOT speaking to the man or his child. Neither is He speaking to the disciples. He is talking to the scribes!
We do not find a single case in scripture where Jesus turns away someone coming to Him in faith for help.. Much less would we expect to find Him rebuking the hurting for being faithless or perverse. The false prophets of the past and today blame the hurting when the charlatan is unable to heal them. The fact is, the charlatan never healed anyone! It is not the fault of the hurting when deliverance doesn’t come.
The disciples have been rebuked at times for not using their faith. Jesus has said they had little faith and asked them where is your faith. But He never told His disciples they were faithless and perverse!
The only group that is left is the scribes who were questioning the disciples without Jesus there as recorded in Mark, Chapter 9. We do not know exactly what they were saying but Jesus’ rebuke of them strongly suggests they were trying to discredit the disciples and Jesus based on this single event of not being able to heal the young boy.
Jesus had performed countless numbers of miracles in the presence of these unbelievers and they try to explain it away and deny the He is the Messiah every time. Their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah shows that they are indeed faithLESS. They have no faith because they are not born of God. Further, they are not only perverse in their own thinking, they are trying to pervert the message of the gospel and draw away God’s people from their Savior.
There is also another key to understanding this passage that may be lost if you are not reading a King James Translation of the scriptures. Jesus rebukes several people when He says “How long shall I be with YOU, and suffer YOU.” The youin this sentence is plural. That means He is not talking to a single man. Jesus then says “Bring THY son.” Thy in this sentence is singular. Jesus is talking to just the father in this sentence.
If you ask me, this is a pretty light rebuke considering who Jesus is talking to and what they have done!