“Because of your unbelief,” He told them. “For I assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
I used to think that, on a scale of little faith to big faith, a mustard seed amount of faith must be pretty huge, because moving mountains is a big deal! And I doubted that I had this amount of faith.
In the story that gives context to this verse, a man knelt on the ground before Jesus, desperately begging for mercy to heal his son who was severely sickened by a demon. He had already asked Jesus’ disciples, but they had not been able to heal him.
Jesus’ response was pierced with anguish. “You unbelieving and rebellious generation! ... Bring the boy to me!” And when the boy was brought to Jesus, he was cured.
What was unbelieving and rebellious about this generation? The gospels tell us that they struggled to grasp and believe that Jesus was God’s son. They did not get that Jesus is it! That He is God. They did not trust that He is the answer to life’s problem. They preferred to rely on their traditions, their own understanding, and their own righteousness.
But Jesus says, “Bring the boy to me”.
Is this the problem? They were trying to heal the boy without bringing him to Jesus? Later, when the disciples asked Jesus why they had not been able to drive out the demon, He said, “Because of your unbelief”. And He assured them that if they had faith, even as small as a mustard seed, they would see mountains move at their command!
So what is the faith that Jesus is talking about? Hebrews 11 tells us that faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. What had the nations been hoping for? A saviour. This saviour is Jesus. He is the reality and the substance of our faith. His death and resurrection is the assurance of all that we hope for now and in the future.
So I realised that quantity of faith is not what matters, for Jesus said you only need a mustard seed amount of it. The important thing is who (or what) the faith is grounded in. Jesus said, “Bring the boy to me”. Do we bring everything to Him? To Him, who is the God above all? To Him, who is loving and compassionate? To Him, who is able to restore everything to himself? When we pray for healing, are we carrying people to Jesus and trusting in His power as the victorious Son of God?
The power of faith is not in the amount of faith, but in the One in whom we have the faith. This is faith that moves mountains.
Lastly in this story, Jesus says that this kind of demon can only be driven out by prayer and fasting. I would like to hazard a guess that this may have something to do with the spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting bringing us closer to Jesus. The closer we are to Jesus, the more the demons must run from us!
So let us draw closer to Him through prayer and fasting. Let us constantly remind each other, and ourselves of who our faith is grounded in: Jesus, the victorious Son of God.
“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength” (Ephesians 1:17-19).