14 When they came to the crowd, a man met Jesus. He knelt before him, 15 saying, “Lord, show mercy to my son. He is epileptic and suffers terribly, for he often falls into the fire or the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.”
17 Jesus answered, “You faithless and crooked generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Then Jesus spoke harshly to the demon. And it came out of the child, who was healed from that time on.
19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and said, “Why couldn’t we throw the demon out?”
20 “Because you have little faith,” he said. “I assure you that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Go from here to there,’ and it will go. There will be nothing that you can’t do.”
Jesus and His disciples Peter, James and John, have just come down from the mountain top experience of witnessing Jesus’ transfiguration and hearing God say, “This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased. Listen to him.” They are still awestruck. They have descended the mountain, from that amazing experience of the power of God, into a crowd gathering around the remaining nine disciples and a sick boy.
These disciples have failed to heal the boy. When Jesus sent out the twelve disciples (Matthew 10:5-8), He empowered them to heal in His name and they were able to heal. So why can’t they heal this boy? The father, having failed with the disciples, turns to Jesus, falls on his knees, and acknowledges Jesus as Lord, begging Jesus to heal his son. The father points out to Jesus, in front of the crowd, that Jesus’ disciples have failed to heal his son. Jesus is the father’s last hope. Jesus shows mercy and heals the child.
I imagine the disciples are confused and embarrassed before the crowd, because they failed to heal. Jesus’ words seem harsh to the disciples, but He is speaking the truth. He’s pointing out the reasons they failed. They failed because they were doubting the mission, they had little faith.
They had begun to see healing as an act that they did, not power given to them by Jesus to bring glory to God. Miracles are meant to point to God’s love and mercy active in the world, not to the disciples’ own actions. Jesus points out that the disciples have come to rely on themselves, and not rely on God. Then, when they couldn’t heal the boy, they began to doubt. Jesus tells the disciples they don’t need a lot of faith. God uses our faith, as small as a mustard seed, to move mountains, so “there will be nothing that you can’t do.”
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Like the disciples, we too doubt the mission. We think it’s all up to us, we rely on our own strength and determination to serve God, and end up frustrated or burnt out, because we forget to rely on God. Jesus reminds us that it is God that uses our “little faith” to move mountains. Immovable mountains are moved, not because of our own efforts, but because of God’s love and grace at work through us. When we rely totally on God’s love, our “little faith,” the size of a tiny mustard seed, will move mountains, and there will be nothing we can’t do, when we rely on God.
Are you relying on your faith in God, or faith in yourself? Are you doubting the mission? What mountains are you facing in your life?
Prayer: Holy and Loving God, forgive us for relying only on ourselves and not on our faith in you. Lord, take our little faith, and give us the faith that moves mountains, for your glory. Amen.