Tenth Sunday After Pentecost

Matthew 17:14-23


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14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and kneeling before him said, 15 "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; for often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him." 17 And Jesus answered, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me." 18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" 20 He said to them, "Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you." 21 22 As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, "The Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day." And they were greatly distressed.

14 Καὶ ἐλθόντων αὐτῶν πρὸς τὸν ὄχλον προσῆλθεν αὐτῷ ἄνθρωπος γονυπετῶν αὐτὸν καὶ λέγων· 15 Κύριε, ἐλέησόν μου τὸν υἱόν, ὅτι σεληνιάζεται καὶ κακῶς πάσχει· πολλάκις γὰρ πίπτει εἰς τὸ πῦρ καὶ πολλάκις εἰς τὸ ὕδωρ. 16 καὶ προσήνεγκα αὐτὸν τοῖς μαθηταῖς σου, καὶ οὐκ ἠδυνήθησαν αὐτὸν θεραπεῦσαι. 17 ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· ὦ γενεὰ ἄπιστος καὶ διεστραμμένη! ἕως πότε ἔσομαι μεθ᾿ ὑμῶν; ἕως πότε ἀνέξομαι ὑμῶν; φέρετέ μοι αὐτὸν ὧδε. 18 καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἀπ᾿ αὐτοῦ τὸ δαιμόνιον καὶ ἐθεραπεύθη ὁ παῖς ἀπὸ τῆς ὥρας ἐκείνης. 19 Τότε προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ τῷ Ἰησοῦ κατ᾿ ἰδίαν εἶπον· διατί ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό; 20 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· διὰ τὴν ἀπιστίαν ὑμῶν. ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως, ἐρεῖτε τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ μετάβηθι ἐντεῦθεν ἐκεῖ, καὶ μεταβήσεται, καὶ οὐδὲν ἀδυνατήσει ὑμῖν. 21 τοῦτο δὲ τὸ γένος οὐκ ἐκπορεύεται εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ καὶ νηστείᾳ.

 22 Ἀναστρεφομένων δὲ αὐτῶν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· μέλλει ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου παραδίδοσθαι εἰς χεῖρας ἀνθρώπων 23 καὶ ἀποκτενοῦσιν αὐτόν, καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἐγερθήσεται. καὶ ἐλυπήθησαν σφόδρα.

Larger Thought Unit

Today’s reading ends a subsection that began with 16:21.  Here Matthew repeats the introductory verse again:  “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men and they will kill him…” (17:22-23). What is interesting about this section is that it follows right after the Transfiguration.  Jesus has ‘been away,’ so to speak, thus the disciples are left alone to carry on his work (This is very similar to the previous two Sundays from Matthew 14).  Needless to say the disciples are impotent and rebuked for their unbelief.  The situation very much typifies what might happen after the death and resurrection of Christ which is now at the forefront of the Gospel.



(The notes from the 4th Sunday of Lent are reproduced here as they are similar to today’s. reading.)


The message offered to the Gentiles (notice the reference to the ‘crowd’ in v.17 and to Galilee in v.30) is a word of teaching (notice the address to Jesus as teacher in v.17 and the remonstrance that the disciples did not put their faith/trust [ἄπιστος] in Jesus’ word/teaching, which is as fully authoritative as the Law and the Prophets [v.4]). The disciples’ lack of faith is contrasted with the faith of the Gentile father (v.23).


The disciples’ inability to heal lies in that they have not yet accepted Jesus’ summons to spread his word beyond the confines of Judaism. Peter wanted to confine Jesus to the mountain with a tent in the company of Moses and Elijah, e.g., the Law and the Prophets. However, the disciples were asked to listen to (obey) the teaching of Jesus who alone remains with them (vv.7-8). His teaching, which the disciples will fully comprehend after his resurrection (v.10), is that they had to come down from the mountain (v.9) to follow Jesus to his death and resurrection (v.31) and, beyond that, ultimately to the Galilee of the Gentiles (Mk 16:7), where he is now already leading them (9:30).  This is the teaching of Jesus (v.31: he was teaching his disciples) that the disciples were earlier asked to hearken to. Unless the disciples are willing to gather with the Gentiles ἐν προσευχῇ/| (to raise, in the same locale and in unison, their prayer to the one Father of all), there will be no healing for the Gentiles, to whom the disciples are supposed to preach the gospel without shame (8:38).  More importantly, the disciples themselves will be condemned as a “faithless generation” (v.19), that is, as the “adulterous and sinful generation”


Further resource

Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.1: Paul and Mark, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 1999; pp.192.

Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.2: Luke and Acts, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 2001; pp.72-73.


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