The Power of Minute Faith

The Power of Faith

Matthew 17:14-23

“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”


            The disciples were perplexed.  A desperate man had come to the disciples for help.  His son was possessed by a demon who caused his son to attempt to fall into fire or water.  Rightfully fearing for his son’s life, he had come to the disciples for help.  Even though Jesus had given the disciples authority over demons (Matthew 10:8), they failed to help this man and his son.  When Jesus approached the disciples, he brought a strong rebuke upon them.  They had failed, not because of a lack of power, but because they had trusted in themselves rather than the empowerment of God.  The word “faithless” points to the wrong attitude they had towards God.  Instead of trusting in God, they were relying upon their own strength and power.  The word “perverse” points to one who is ‘twisted’ in their thinking.  The problem with the disciples is that they were not acting in faith and relying upon God’s strength.  Instead, they were relying upon their own abilities.  They were no longer trusting in God and putting their faith in his ability to work through them.  When Jesus condemns them for the littleness of their faith, he condemns them not for the amount of faith but for the misguided object of their faith: themselves. 

            In response, Jesus mentions that if they had the faith of a mustard seed, they could move mountains.  The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds.  Jesus condemns them for their poor quality of faith; that is, they were not placing their faith in the correct object.  The point Jesus is making is that it is not the amount of faith that determines the outcome but the object of their faith.  Even if their faith is small, if it is in the proper object, God can work powerfully through them. 

Often in our Christian life, we are told that if we have enough faith, God will do supernatural things through us.  This places the focus on us, our abilities, and our faith.  Thus, it is reasoned that if God does not bring healing or deliverance, it is because we lack enough faith.  The problem with this perspective is that it shifts the focus from the merciful God who empowers his people to us and our abilities.  In the end, we get the credit.  However, in this verse, Christ changes the narrative.  The focus is not on the strength or amount of our faith but on the object of our faith.  In other words, the focus shifts back to the empowerment of God. Even when our faith is weak, God responds if the focus is upon him. This is even more evident in the parallel account recorded by Mark (Mark 9).  In Mark's account of this event, the father turns to Jesus and asks him, “But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!”  Jesus responded that the issue is not about “if” but about simple trust.  Immediately, the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:23-24).  In this, the man revealed the true nature of faith.  Faith is trusting in God to do what we cannot do.  It is still trusting even with our doubts and weaknesses.  God responds to the simplest act of faith, even when we struggle with doubts and fears.  The power of faith is revealed when we respond in commitment and obedience to Christ, even when we struggle with doubts.  When we act in obedience and trust, despite our struggles, God brings his infinite power to work in our lives.  When God is not responding as we think, we do not need more faith; we just need to trust that he will accomplish his purpose through us regardless of what happens.  This faith will then move mountains.  



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