38 A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. 40 I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.”
41 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied,“how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” (Luke 9:38-41)
I have always wondered why Jesus came down so hard on this dad. This morning, listening to this passage in Spanish, it came to me. The dad’s words reveal his motive: “for he is my only child.” He could have said first off something about how much the child was suffering. He did not. His primary concern was about himself, his position in society, the continuation of his family line, and all the things which in that society were associated with having a son. Since the boy was an only child, he was his dad’s only hope for all these things.
I think Jesus was angry because this dad was thinking of his son as an item of property, a possession. His core motive was not love and compassion for another human being, his own son, in such distress. The son was an important possession, and the dad wanted him fixed, wanted him to function properly, behave properly, fit in with the dad’s plans, goals and societal aspirations. I think that is why Jesus said what he said.
The take away for me? I’d better be darn careful about my own motives when I ask God’s blessing. Am I so focused on my needs that I disregard the sacred humanity of another person for whom Christ lived and died and lives today?