Robert Griffith | 21 July 2023
Robert Griffith
21 July 2023

 

Matthew 17:14-20  “When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”
“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Faith enough to move mountains?! What kind of mountains? Jesus is not talking about magic removals. He doesn’t say that prayer can push Mount Kosciusko into the Pacific Ocean. But he is saying that faith even the size of a mustard seed can move the mountains blocking the horizons of our hopes, shadowing the light and beauty of God’s love in our lives, limiting and bounding the scope of our service to Christ.

He is saying that faith the size of a mustard seed can make the improbable possible; indeed, it can make what looks impossible into a vital and radiant present reality. He is saying that faith can stand up to and move, indeed remove, the things that trap us, the stuff that scares the daylights out of us, the things that test and erode our confidence in God and make us wonder whether God is in fact able to make something of our efforts after all.

But how often it is that we lack even that tiniest amount of faith! Consider the scene here as Jesus addressed his disciples. Long before this event – back in Matthew 10:8 – Jesus had given the disciples full authority to “cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.”By this time, they should be performing healings, cleansings, miracles, with absolute confidence and faith! Yet, on this day, they are unable to heal even this little boy.

So, it is Jesus who must step in and do the miracle once again. And it is Jesus once again confronting his well-meaning followers that they are still a “faithless” generation.

The words remind us of other events; in particular, we recall the events recorded in Luke 8, where Jesus and the disciples, on a boat on the Sea of Galilee, are caught suddenly by a violent windstorm; and the disciples rush in to wake Jesus, crying, “Master, we are perishing!”

There, too, Jesus responds by asking his followers, simply: “Where is your faith?” And now, once again, Jesus confronts the disciples with the same question: “Where is your faith?” He could not make his words any clearer: In verse 20, He tells His followers, “The reason you could not cure this young boy is because of your little faith.”

Then, Jesus gives the rest of the story: “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

The faith to move a mountain! How are we to understand that? Did Jesus mean that, literally, his disciples, with a little faith, ought to be able to stare up at the Mount of Transfiguration, from which they had just come down a little earlier that day, and command it to pick up and move to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, and it would be done?

No, I don’t think that was exactly Jesus’ intention; nowhere in the Gospels do we read about Jesus rearranging the topography just for the sake of performing a miracle. There was another, very real mountain looming in front of the disciples that day; specifically, it was the mountain of healing that sick boy that had been brought to them. And Jesus declared to them, “If you had even the tiniest bit of faith, this mountain will be one that you can conquer.”

The reason that the disciples should have been able to heal this boy, with a little faith, is because Jesus had commanded them, and Jesus had given them the authority, to do just that. With faith even the size of a mustard seed, they should have been able to do everything that Jesus had given them to do.

In that respect, we can place ourselves exactly inside the disciples’ shoes. For God has given each and every one of us a job to do, a mission to perform, and Jesus has given us full authority to act in his name as we carry out our calling. That is the “mountain” that lies before you, and me, today! And with faith even as big as this tiny mustard seed, that mountain will move before our very eyes, even today!

In some respects, every person’s “mountain” is a little bit different. That’s because every one of us is an individual, unique in certain respects, given unique abilities and talents by God. So, each of us is called by God to do something different.

But the thing we must do today is realize that whatever it is that God has called us to do, God has also given us full authority to do just that – just like Jesus gave His disciples full authority to heal the sick and cast out demons. And we must, today, reach back and find the faith – not necessarily superhuman faith; just the smallest bit will do – faith that we are fully, completely able to do exactly what God has given us to do. Faith that, when the time comes, when we need it to happen most, that “mountain” will give way before us.

What is your mountain? It may be a mountain of sharing Christ with a person very close to you. It may be a mountain of taking a stand for Christ in a new, more powerful way. It may be a mountain of accepting new responsibilities, a role of leadership, in your service to Christ.

It may be a mountain of giving that last little area of your life, the one little compartment that you’ve not been willing to part with yet, giving even that part of your life completely over to Christ. It may be a mountain of refusing to sit quietly any longer while your colleagues, acquaintances, co-workers, trample the name of Christ.

Your task today is to find just enough faith to know that you’re not just fighting alone, as a ‘loose cannon’ on the deck, but rather that God has empowered you with full authority to tackle this mountain, and that this mountain can begin to give way before you even today!