“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.” (Matthew 17:20, ESV)
Have you ever attempted to do something that was really challenging? Or perhaps it was something someone else had asked of you, whether it was a parent, teacher, employer, or possibly even God Himself. Do you remember how you felt? Very possibly you entered into the task with great zeal and confidence, but quickly realized that what was being asked of you was simply beyond you. You couldn’t do it. When this happens, and it will happen in our lives time and time again, it is hard not to be consumed by an overwhelming sense of discouragement. Truth be told, it is just too difficult. We couldn’t do it… we can’t do it.
In Matthew 17, while Jesus was on the mountain with Peter, James, and John, the other disciples were approached by a father in desperate need of his son to be healed. Frightfully, a demon would possess the young boy, causing him to have violent seizures and nearly end his life. The disciples had been with Jesus; they had heard His teachings and witnessed His healings. Not only so, but they too had proclaimed the Good News of the kingdom and healed many in the name of Christ! Surely they could respond to this father’s desperate plea and heal his son. However hard they tried, they were unsuccessful. Defeat. Discouragement. Doubt. Approaching Jesus after His descent off the mountain the father said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he has seizures and he suffers terribly… I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not heal him” (vv. 15, 16). Rebuking the demon, instantly Jesus healed the boy. Perplexed and confused, the disciples quietly approached Jesus and asked, “Why could we not cast it out?” to which He said, “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” (vv. 19-20).
A few verses later, Jesus and His disciples entered Capernaum and there a tax collector asked Peter, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” (v. 24). What was Peter to say, knowing that their safety with the authorities was at stake? Saying “yes” to the tax collector, Peter went to the home where Jesus was staying, but before he could even inquire about this tax, Jesus initiated a very interesting dialogue. As a “man”, He was required to pay the tax to the king like everyone else, but as the “Son of God” He was exempt from paying for He was a Son of the King. Neverless, Jesus instructed Peter to go pay the collector the tax… but how? Jesus said, “Go out to the sea, but don’t forget your fishing pole, and take the first fish that you catch, open its mouth and there you will find the tax to give to the collector.” Can you imagine if you are Peter? Jesus, you want me to go to the sea and fish… and the first fish I catch will amazingly have money in its mouth, and not only that, but the exact amount needed to pay the tax?
Have you ever considered how ridiculous this must have sounded to Peter? While we don’t have the rest of the story recorded, I have to imagine that Peter did go for a walk that day to the sea to fish, as doubtful as he might have been, but having faith like a grain of mustard seed, he trusted that He in fact would do the miraculous. What is interesting to me is what Jesus required of Peter to experience the miraculous: to exercise his faith and trust in the words of Christ. Had Peter not had the faith in the first place, even the smallest hint of faith, he would not have gone. Just the same, had he not exercised this faith through obedience to go and fish, he would have failed to witness the miraculous, not to mention pay the tax!
I wonder, what are those things in your life that the Lord is asking of you? Those things that simply seem too big and beyond your ability? Brothers and sisters, if it is of the Lord, we need not worry. Rather, let us have faith, faith like a grain of mustard seed, and let us exercise our trust in Him as we faithfully step one step after another, fully anticipating and expecting for Him to do what only He can do, the miraculous.
“Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matthew 21:21-22, ESV).
May we have faith in the One who came in the flesh, to live, die, and raise from the grave, conquering sin and death for all eternity.