Jesus and Complaining

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Then Jesus answered and said, "O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?"  (Mk. 9:19)

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Jesus had just come down from the mount of transfiguration, an experience that gave Him a rare insight into the glory that awaited Him (v. 2-13). Now He was faced with a PR disaster. His bumbling disciples had failed to cast out a demon, and local scribes were making the most of the failure. A great crowd was witness to the fiasco (v. 14-15). 

Jesus' terse rebuke was not directed at the crowd nor at His critics, but at the disciples who had botched what should have been a "routine" miracle. It was the closest Jesus ever came to complaining about something that didn't go right. 

We know the experience, don't we? A freak weather event ruins what should have been a fun family outing. A co-worker bungles an assignment that sets back an important project. A spouse makes a dumb decision that hits the family checkbook. Government incompetence. A broken shoelace. A sister who sings off-key. Flat tires, mosquitoes, poor customer service, messy kids--the list of things we complain about could go on and on.   

Jesus had plenty to complain about, too. The disappointment over disciples who were clueless or fickle or both. The injustice perpetrated by those in power, especially by "experts" in the Law who should have known better. The ingratitude of people who received the benefit of His healing power, yet couldn't be bothered to tell Him "thank you." Most of all, the assignment of living and dying for a race of creatures who were too stupid and indifferent to appreciate what He was doing for them. And what did all this vexation earn Him? Death on a Roman cross. 

Yes, Jesus had plenty to complain about. But He did not come to this world to complain about its imperfections. He came to save it. Whining about its faults would serve no useful purpose, so He patiently went about His work, trusting the final outcome to His Father.

On this occasion, Jesus channeled His frustration into action. He cast out the demon (v. 25-27), then used the experience as a teaching opportunity for His disciples (v. 28-29). As followers of Jesus, His example should influence how we respond to our own frustrations. They are opportunities to let the patience of God be seen in us.

Let's follow His lead.