Jesus, Irritated?

a street art image of jesus looking to the sky
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

The writer of Hebrews says, “The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than a two-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). This verse reminds me to approach the Holy Scriptures with a “yieldedness” to the Spirit and a desire to relate more deeply to the Triune God. When we do this, the stories come alive and penetrate our innermost beings.

In my daily devotion, I am oftentimes surprised by things that never stood out previously. One of the recent surprises was noticing how even Jesus got annoyed and frustrated, especially with faithlessness and perverse thinking. One such example is his reaction after healing a demon-possessed boy.

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” (Luke 9:41)

Throughout the gospel accounts, Jesus was downcast by faithless responses. And it seemed to impact him most when his disciples displayed a lack of belief. This story takes place a day after Jesus, Peter, James, and John had come down from the Mount of Transfiguration. A great crowd met Jesus, and a father in the crowd begged that Jesus heal his son. The father tells Jesus, “I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” A key point to this story is found at the beginning of Luke 9.

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal (Luke 9:1-2).

Though these disciples had traveled with Jesus, had seen many miracles, and had been given the power and authority over demons, their lack of faith prevented them from healing the boy. You can understand Jesus’ dismay, which he expressed in his words.

As someone who is challenged on many fronts, I find it encouraging that even though Jesus was 100% God and man, and was filled with grace, truth, and love, he could get a little irritated and disappointed. The expressions of annoyance and frustration are a minor piece of his earthly experience, but these mark the reality of his humanity and it makes him human enough to identify with. He really did take on flesh and blood and he had to wrangle through the daily grind just as we do.

Certainly, crankiness was not the daily demeanor of Jesus. His day-in-day-out earthly ministry shows us that he continued forward no matter the negativity he faced, and his driving purpose was to raise humanity out of the generational cycle of faithlessness. The faithless bystanders—even if they included his disciples—did not deter Jesus from healing the boy and there is nothing that will keep the grace, truth, and love of Jesus from moving through the crowd and reaching us.

Prayer: Jesus, you were both divine and human, and you eternally maintain your connectedness to us humans in your glorified body. We thank you for temporarily setting aside your glory to join us in our mess, fully embracing humanity as one of us, and being the perfect example and perfect sacrifice that saves us. Amen.

So thankful for his humanity,
Greg Williams

11 thoughts on “Jesus, Irritated?”

  1. Thanks, Greg. I think, more generally, Jesus demonstrated in his recorded “frustrations” a basic dissatisfaction with the status quo of a humanity bent to hurt itself. There is a didactic value here also for us as a reminder not to be complacent with the “ways of the world”. There is a time for us as Christians to “speak out” and express rightful annoyance, just as our sinless Lord did.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Santiago. I love that you pointed out how Jesus’s frustration was probably more directed toward the human systems that promote classism and other divisions, especially the idea that we (or others) are separate from God. It makes us stop and think how we still might be perpetuating similar thoughts today. Old narratives are hard to let go of as scripture shows.
      Best,
      Nan Kuhlman

    2. Amen, Mr. Lange! I think it’s too easy to dismiss Jesus’ expressions of frustration and irritation as being more human and not so much righteous God. God is recorded as experiencing wrath, righteous indication, when his people don’t follow through with what he tells them and they end up in a mess! In a mess is not where he wants us to be; achieving and accomplishing is the goal, and his will is temporarily thwarted when he has to correct us. It all works together, thanks be to God!

  2. Jesus’ frustration is understandable. He has put up with Israel for hundreds of years at this point and they are still vacillating back and forth. His covenant nation is not mature enough to show other nations that God’s ways are better and will provide peace and well being (Shalom). Other nations are at this point laughing and jeering at God’s chosen people and for good reason. However, in the back of Jesus’ mind was probably the thought that they (both Israel and the disciples) are still in training and they will eventually reach maturity. At that time the Kingdom will again reign throughout the world as in Eden before the fall. Both mankind and the earth (adamah) will again experience the Shalom it was designed experience. We who understand this in part are frustrated, so it is no surprise that Jesus, the creator of it all, could be a little frustrated and anxious for the training and maturation to be complete.

  3. Some years ago I was really happy as I read that Christ was laughing a lot as his disciples were misunderstanding him. Please don’t think that I would like to correct you, I just have another understanding thinking that he was laughing again and again with them. Perhaps we are also learning to laugh about ourselves when we misunderstand something.

  4. Leadership roles can get frustrating at times. Anita and I appreciate everything that GCI does. It is reassuring that our Triune God understands our frustrations and that he lived and dealt with our messiness. What comfort is to know that he loves us so much to become man and live through all of the mess.

  5. Albert Einstein once said, Reality is an illusion but quite a consistent one at that. We can know that Jesus went through life’s most frustrating, irritable and aggravating feelings when it came to dealing with His human creation. (Now, many of us know just how our school teachers must have felt at times with us!) Jesus is quite, qualified to know us individually and lead us through life since He made us and “wired” our brains. Jesus is patient with us, loves us, and “can’t wait” until His time to return to earth to undo the frustrations in His human creation. What an event that will be to look forward to!

  6. Greg, I appreciate the point that Jesus’ frustrations with the disciples’ shortcomings helps us identify with His human side and know He understands when we experience similar reactions. I suspect that most of His exasperation was an expression of His love and desire to see them “get it” and mature a bit. It’s like us parents who love our kids and get exasperated when the same stumblings occur time and again. Thanks. JR

  7. Thank You Almighty God for understanding us inside and out. You know every little hair on our heads. Thank you Pastor Greg for your insight.

  8. Thanks Greg for directing us to the teaching of the faith and compassion of Jesus Christ, who knew before the foundation of the world that all this unbelief and sorrow would befall mankind. Jesus would not be that much longer with this generation to bear their burdens due to unbelief. Jesus was teaching the father of this boy, who did have human faith that Jesus could heal, but he and everyone else need help with our unbelief. We need the faith of Christ, to live by His Faith! Mark 9:22-24

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