Read: Matthew 17:14-20
Key Verse: v20
[Jesus] replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
What Does it Mean?
Jesus’ disciples wondered why they hadn’t been able to cast out the demon when Jesus seemingly did it so easily, and He had equipped them to do the same miracles as He. They were probably feeling quite disgruntled and discouraged, perhaps wondering if Jesus had lied to them about the power they had through Him, or if they were doing something wrong. Most Christians experience this kind of disgruntlement and discouragement. We read that we have the power to perform even greater miracles than Jesus (John 14:12), and yet we don’t see miraculous healing happening when we pray. Are we doing something wrong? Or is Jesus holding back on us? The truth is, as Jesus explains, that it’s a matter of a battle going on within us between faith and doubt. It only takes a little bit of doubt to cancel out the effects of our faith. Faith means trusting and believing that God can do the impossible, that He is who He says He is and can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Faith means believing God when the circumstances or evidence around us seem contrary to what God says – remember Hebrews 11:1: “Faith […] gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT). Jesus says that nothing will be impossible for us… as long as we can overcome our unbelief, or our doubts, or our fears, or our insecurities. It sounds simple, but in practice it’s never easy. We are our own worst enemies, because it’s our own attitudes that hinder God’s work through us. It happened to the disciples, and it happens to us. We want to believe that God can do the impossible, but… It’s the ‘but’ that causes the problem. It may be insecurity, thinking that God can’t work through us because of some weakness or fault. It may be doubt, thinking that the situation is too big, too difficult, too impossible for God to be able to do anything about it. It may be fear, thinking of the what ifs that may or may not happen. Any of these things are a hindrance to God’s ability to work through us. Nothing is too big for God. He can even use a donkey to fulfil His purpose, so He can use you, warts and all. And the what ifs are possibilities that may never become realities. It’s all a matter of trust, and making our faith bigger than our fears.
Faith means believing that God is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do – even when circumstances challenge our belief. With even a small amount of faith, the impossible becomes possible, but as humans we are far too prone to succumbing to doubts and fears. Doubt cancels out faith, putting limits on what God can achieve through us. We have a responsibility to make sure that our faith is vastly greater than our fears, and to stop doubts before they set up store in our minds.
Journaling and Reflection
- Re-read verses 19-20. Imagine that you are one of the disciples. How do Jesus’ words make you feel? Why?
- Even the smallest amount of doubt can cancel out our faith. What practical steps can you take to make your faith bigger than your fears?
Lord God, thank You that You are full of grace and mercy even when my fears are bigger than my faith. I praise You for Your greatness, and thank You that You make the impossible possible. Please help me to snuff out the doubts that obscure my faith, so that my faith may grow to be bigger than even my greatest fears. Amen.