A certain man came to Jesus on behalf of his son. His son was experiencing seizures that could be life threatening as he often used to fall into fire or water. Interestingly before that, the father had asked the Lord’s disciples for help. Yet he found out that they could not deliver his son from this bondage.
As so often in other occasions, Jesus could help. We read: “And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.” (Matthew 17:18/KJV).
Now what I am aiming at today is the conversation between the disciples and the Lord following this incident. The disciples wanted to know why they had been unable to help that boy. They had tried to, but were unsuccessful in casting out that devil from him.
Here is the Lord’s answer to his disciples: “Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain; Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:20+21/KJV).
So this is another occasion, when Jesus spoke about a faith that can move mountains. This time we need not to wonder what kind of ‘mountain’ he was speaking about. The mountain he directly referred to was the need of that troubled boy.
Compared to the scripture verse that I have quoted last week, in this passage Jesus included a qualifying statement concerning the faith that would be required. He likens that faith to a ‘grain of mustard seed’.
At another time he described that kind of seed as one of the smallest seeds. Yet he said from this tiny grain a big tree could spring forth. (cf. Matthew 13:31+32).
If we combine both passages, Jesus here is saying that not a huge faith was required. Even faith from the size of that tiny kind of seed would be sufficient.
This reminds me of a well-known Christian quote. I am not altogether sure who said this, but I suppose it was Hudson Taylor: “You don’t need great faith, but you need faith in a great God!” This means we don’t need to depend on our own resources. We don’t need to present anything before God which is admirable. We just need to believe that God is great, able and willing to help. We need to trust God, thinking of him as who he really is.
Jesus said faith of the size of a tiny grain of mustard seed would be enough to see God at work. He said this kind of faith would be sufficient to ‘remove mountains’.
In verse 21, which I have quoted above, we are given some practical advice as to how to go about things. Jesus said that we need to spend time praying to God. Fasting may also help.
Now I am really seeking to expound 1 Corinthians 13:2: “…and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”
So what role has love in the story mentioned above? I think it is the question of the disciples’ motivation. Did they seek to see this boy delivered in order to prove their own spiritual greatness? Or were they genuinely concerned about this boys pressing need? What could make you look to God for a miracle, if you ever were to?