Jesus had taken Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There, Jesus was transfigured. The story is related to us in Matthew 17:1-13. Jesus and the lead disciples then returned to the rest of the group who had been busying themselves driving out demons and healing people. As Jesus approached them, a man came to Him and knelt before Him, asking for His help saying (v17-20):
“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. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.”
And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like 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 for you.”
We can learn a lot from that happened here. The disciples, had been working diligently in Jesus’ absence, healing and driving out demons. However, despite their best endeavours they had failed in one case to heal a man’s epileptic son and so the man came and appealed directly to Jesus for help and healing. Jesus instantly healed the boy.
Jesus explained to His disciples the reason for their failure: it was not their technique, it was not their diligence, it was not their intelligence, it was not through impatience, it was not because the demon opposition was too strong. The reason for their failure was their “little faith.” Or, as the King James Version says, “Because of your unbelief.”
Jesus then went on to explain that ”if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.”
Notice here Jesus did not rebuke them by telling them that they needed a bigger faith, or a deeper faith, or a wider faith, or a fuller faith. No, He told them that if they had a faith like a mustard seed. How big I a mustard seed? It is tiny. It is the smallest of all the garden seeds and is only about 1/16 inch or 1+ millimetre in diameter.
The answer, the explanation Jesus gave for their failure, must have left the discipled confused, as it is counter intuitive. Like us, the disciples no doubt could see the point that they has failed because their faith was not great enough – for that would make complete earthly sense. To have failed because their faith was not like a tiny mustard seed, must have baffled them beyond belief; especially when Jesus added, that if they had had faith like a tiny grain of mustard, they can tell a huge mountain to move and it will move. They must have thought to themselves: “surely you need a huge amount of faith to move a huge mountain?” But that is not what Jesus said.
What Jesus said to them was this: it matters not the size of your faith; what matters is that it is a totally God centred faith, a real and true God-inspired faith. With such a faith, even as small as a tiny mustard seed, you can move mountains. It is not the size of the faith which matters, but the size of your God.
When the disciples started to drive out the demon from the epileptic boy, they had faith in their teachings from Jesus, in their past experiences, in their technique, in the trust which Jesus had of them. In other words, they had faith in their past accomplishments. They were standing facing forward, but looking backwards to past glories. What they mistook for “faith” was rather “unbelief.” It was not the size of their faith which let them down, it was that their faith was defective. They had faith in faith, rather than faith in God.
True faith can accomplish miracles, and miracles depend on true faith, for in that faith there is a focus, reliance and a total trust in God. He is the source of the miracles. He is the source of answered prayers.
If you were given a choice to cross a deep chasm on a concrete bridge, or an untried one made of thin string knotted together, the choice is quite clear. It takes a huge amount of faith to cross an untried string bridge, for in it, there is little trust. Conversely, it takes a tiny amount of faith to cross the large concrete road bridge, for it was professionally built and there is complete trust in the makers that it will carry your weight easily.
For Christians the solution to the size of faith we have is simple: we need to focus on God for all things and at all times. As long as we trust that our God, the maker of Heaven and Earth can do all things he wills, then we just need to put our faith in Him. It is not the size of the problem which matters, it is the size of our God – and Christians have a great big and loving God!!
Meditate on the following and get to believe and trust in God:
Mark 9:23 “Jesus said to him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, He who believes on Me, the works that I do he shall do also, and greater works than these he shall do, because I go to My Father.”
Romans 10:17 “Then faith is of hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
Nahum 1:7 “Jehovah is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.”
Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in Jehovah, and Jehovah is his trust.”
Psalm 40:4 “Blessed is the man who makes Jehovah his trust and does not turn to the proud, nor to those who turn aside to a lie.”
Psalm 32:10 “The wicked has many sorrows, but mercy embraces him who trusts in Jehovah.”
Isaiah 26:3-4 “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You; because he trusts in You. Trust in Jehovah forever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”
Amen and Amen.