Monday, April 30, 2012

Daily devotions: The Hard Way - Mark 9:14-23

Mark 9:19       "O unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me." 

As a teenager, I insisted on learning things the hard way, which often exasperated my parents. If they said something about this, I would petulantly sulk or aggressively attack them. Instead of listening to them and following their wisdom, I would go my own way and do my own thing. The results were dysfunctional, wayward, and self-destructive. The fact that I am still alive today says more about God’s grace than it does about my ability to survive. Looking back, I must also have exasperated Him too.

In the Gospels, we sometimes see Jesus being exasperated with His own disciples and people. The story of the sickness of the teenage boy and his unbelieving father in Mark 9, along with the argument that takes place between the religious teachers and Christ’s followers, appears to have caught Jesus at the end of His tether. “O unbelieving generation,” He exclaims, “how long shall I stay and put up with you?” I don’t know if He was tired and weary, or just vexed and fed up. Whatever Jesus was feeling, He wasn’t happy at all about the situation.

This makes me wonder how He would react to our present generation of Christians. Are we heading in the right direction? Are we following His teaching or our own agendas? Are we a believing or unbelieving generation? These are tough questions to ask but they should be asked by every generation, in every nation, and every congregation.

Years later, when both my parents had passed from this life to the next, I realized how much they loved me through those turbulent teenage times. I regret disregarding their life-wisdom and learning things the hard way. I didn’t believe them because I was so caught up in my own self and I arrogantly cast aside their advice. The question that we in the Church need to ask ourselves today is this: are we doing the same to Jesus?

Prayer:            Lord Jesus, forgive our unbelief and help us to accept Your ways. Teach us the value of Your timeless teachings and the importance of Your wise words. Keep us from exasperating You when we embrace worldly ways as opposed to Your godly guidance. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to

Today’s image is one of my latest chess drawings called “Chess Nouveau.” It features chess pieces in the style of Scottish art nouveau genius Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who heavily influenced the works of Frank Lloyd Wright. If you would like to view a larger version, please click the following link:

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