If you were approached by a father with a severely ill child and asked to heal him- how would you respond?
Okay, I will admit this is not a question or a situation we ever face. Allow me to re-ask the question another way.
If you were one of Christ’s first disciples- being mentored by him and witnessing firsthand his incredible ministry- and you were approached and asked to heal- could you handle it?
This was exactly the situation of Matthew 17:14-23- and these disciples could not handle it. Jesus could and did, and uses this occasion to challenge our boundaries of what faith can do.
Responding to the disciples question about why they could not heal the boy, Jesus responded:
Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth if you have faith as small as a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
Contextually this statement is significant because it is a continuation of the kind of understanding and preparation these disciples needed in order to faithfully face the trials they would endure beginning with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. They would need and indeed did develop mountain moving faith.
As we approach this text and search for contemporary meaning we usually dismiss any real notion of moving mountains. We explain how Christ was using a common and popular rabbinic teaching method of exaggeration and extreme contrast to make his point about faith. (Much like he did with the beam and the speck story in Matthew 7:1-5). Yes, we admit, faith is powerful and we must possess it in order to accomplish God’s will, but moving mountains is just impossible.
Is it? Or perhaps could we be a part of the “unbelieving and perverse generation” Christ mentioned in the text?
Personally, I am energized by this text and the incredible possibilities embedded in a faith that engages the limitless power of God. I don’t know about mountains, but I do know that through Christ’s resurrection power (check out Ephesians 1:18-20) working in us we can do “immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine” (this is from Ephesians 3:20).
If we can imagine moving mountains- God can do more in us than even that- that is, unless Paul was not being serious.
But, but, but, but.. Yea, it is hard to get a handle on the vastness of this.
So let’s start with what we can handle. Maybe this is the entire point of this message anyway. What mountains need moving in your life? What persistent struggle would you permanently like to defeat? Do you have a relationship you believe strained beyond repair? Is there something that you have been wanting to accomplish for God but so far have failed to do?
What about down at the church? Does growing your church seem to be an impossible task? Does budget loom large and limit? Does taking the gospel to a hostile world seem too daunting to undertake?
All it takes to begin to move these challenges from impossible to possible is a simple investment of faith- an intentional, consistent, directed, expective, lived faith. After all, mustard seed is among the tiniest of all seed. If we plant even that amount of faith in God’s garden, the harvest in our life will be beyond amazing- at least that is the biblical message.
So, how about it? Do you believe?
Let’s move mountains!