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“…how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?”
Matthew 17:1-21 (text: v. 17)
This is a question Jesus asked out of frustration. Frustration is an emotion and expression of an unfulfilled expectation. Jesus had reason to expect His disciples to have faith, yet in spite of all the miracles they witnessed, they were still faithless at times.
How many of you ever get frustrated? Dumb question! Here is a better one: What gets you frustrated? When people who don’t keep commitments??? Traffic on I-5 during rush hour??? Forgetting things???
Why do things like these frustrate you?
Here is a even more thought provoking question: Do you think God ever gets frustrated with you? [“O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?”]
Paraphrase—“Oh, how much longer will I have to put up with your perverse unbelief before I go back to heaven?”
Do you sense the frustration, chagrin, and irritation in Jesus’ question? Does it sound like Jesus may be a little “fed-up” with the disciple’s faithlessness?
Notice Jesus asks TWICE “How long…” (Mt. 17:17).
If Jesus would ask this to His disciples, where does that leave you and I?
I. The RECORD of frustration.
“How long” is asked 61 times in the Bible. Sometimes it is man who asks, “How long?” Sometimes it is God who asks, “How long?”
A. Think of the many times man asks, “How long?”
Upon hearing a diagnosis of cancer—“How long have I to live” (2 Sam. 19:34).
The cry of a parent—“How long, ’til my child will get right with God?”
The prison inmate—“How long before I will be released?”
A child on a car trip—“How long until we get there?”
A Christian prays—“How long until God answers my prayer?” (Hab. 1:2).
A weary church member—“How long before the pastor finishes his sermon?” (cf. Job 18:2)
A Christian in a trial—“How long until this trial is over?” (see Psalm 6:3)
Have you ever wondered, “O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name forever?” (Ps. 74:10)
The Psalmist prayed—“Lord… how long shall the wicked triumph?” (Ps. 94:3).
Christians wonder, “How long till the Lord comes back?”
Even tribulation martyrs in heaven ask, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:10).
B. God also asks man, “How long?”
Yes, God is long-suffering and patient. But even God’s patience can be “worn out” by people’s stubbornness and lack of faith.
When God commanded Ahaz to ask for a sign, but Ahaz refused, Isaiah said, “Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye WEARY my God also?” (Isa. 7:13).
God said to Israel—“Thou hast WEARIED me with thine iniquities” (Isa. 43:24).
God told the Jews, “Thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee… I am WEARY with repenting” (Jer. 15:6).
Malachi said, “Ye have wearied the Lord with your words.”
1. How long until you REPENT (Ex. 10:3)?
2. How long will you REFUSE to obey (Ex. 16:28)?
3. How long until you BELIEVE Me (Num. 14:11)?
4. How long must I put up with your murmuring (Num. 14:27)?
5. How long until you possess the land (Josh. 18:3)?
6. How long until you make up your mind (1 Kings 18:21)?
7. How long shall I suffer you? TEXT—
II. The REASONS for Jesus’ frustration.
A. Jesus is frustrated at our PERSISTENT unbelief when we’ve already experienced many examples of God’s power.