One day Jesus’ disciples faced utter defeat. At the insistence of desperate parents, they had tried, without success, to drive a demon from a boy suffering from seizures so bad that they often threw him into the fire or into the water. The boy’s life was constantly in danger, and he was in continual, terrible pain. At their wits’ end as to what to do, the parents came to Jesus’ disciples for help. But it wasn’t long before the disciples were also at their wits’ end.
When Jesus showed up, however, He “rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.” (Matt 17:18 NIV)
Perplexed, the disciples came to Him and asked: “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” (Matt 17:19 NIV). In other words, they didn’t understand why they couldn’t heal the boy themselves!
So often we run to faith healers who don’t seem to know how to heal. So often we rely on humans for miracles that they cannot provide. Only One can heal! Sure, He gave authority to His followers over sicknesses and demons, but it is still Jesus who heals!
Jesus’ answer to His disciples’ question should shake us to the core: “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, 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.” (Matt 17:20 NIV)
Remember, we are talking about Jesus’ disciples here, the ones who left their jobs and families behind to follow Him! The ones who received authority over sicknesses and pain (see Mark 6:7)! The ones who experienced Jesus firsthand! If they don’t have the necessary faith, then how can we ever hope to?
But Jesus isn’t asking for a lot of faith. He is only asking for a mustard seed’s kind of faith.
How big is a mustard seed?
About 2 mm in diameter.
What happens when it is planted in fertile soil?
It grows so big (as high as 10′ in southern Golan near Avne Eitan, Israel that it can even break through solid concrete!
By itself, the mustard seed is helpless and worthless. It cannot do anything. It cannot grow. It cannot move. It cannot make any difference whatsoever in this world.
When it is planted in fertile soil, however, it can grow and grow, until it reaches out to Heaven.
The same is true with us. We may think we have faith, just as the mustard seed may think it can grow humongously big, but in all reality, just like the mustard seed cannot grow without its life-giving source, the fertile soil, our faith cannot grow by itself. Just as the mustard seed, by itself, is worthless, our own faith, by itself, is worthless. But if that mustard seed is planted in fertile soil, it will grow. In the same way, if our mustard seed faith is planted in the fertile soil of Jesus, our Master, then we will truly experience the unbelievable. Then we will, without a doubt, make a difference in this world!
We cannot be proud of our faith. If we are, then we really we don’t have faith at all. Faith is only possible through true humility and total dependence on God: “You do not support the root, but the root supports you.” (Rom 11:18 NIV)
We need childlike faith in order to experience God in our lives. A small child is completely depended upon his parents. In the same way, we are also dependant upon our Heavenly Father. In all reality however, we so often don’t depend upon God, and when we don’t, we step right into the rattle snakes’ nests of life, causing limping and pain! We could have avoided the trouble if we had only listened to Him! Only through Him can rattle snakes be rendered defenceless (“…they will pick up snakes with their hands… it will not hurt them at all…” (Mark 16:18 NIV)
Let’s also remember than no matter what, we must not seek after our own interests. We must bring out the glory of God around us! “If you believed, you would see the glory of God” (John 11:40 NIV)
“This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4-5 NIV)
Do you have that kind of mustard’s seed faith?
(To view the entire “When Suffering Seems Unbearable” devotional series, please click here.)