Daily Readings & Thought for July 16th. “IF YOU HAVE FAITH LIKE …”
Only Jesus had perfect faith – but he gives a very useful lesson to his disciples in today’s ch. 17 in Matthew. He had come down from the mountain on which he had been with his 3 chosen disciples – in the meantime the other disciples had been unable to heal an epileptic boy an anxious father had brought to them.
They had reason to expect they would be able to perform a healing as they had earlier performed healings when Jesus sent the 12 out to “Proclaim the kingdom …Heal the sick …” [10 v.7,8] among “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” They had the faith then to do it, but they had been specially commissioned by Jesus to do so. This time Jesus calls them, “Faithless … how long am I to be with you?” [v.17] and heals the boy “instantly” [v.18] They ask Jesus why were they unable to heal, he says, “Because of your little faith” [v.20] Then he makes a remarkable statement. “ … if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed you will say …”
Now a mustard seed grows because it has been divinely programmed to grow into a mustard bush, that books tell us grew as high as a horse’s head, as long as it is “fed and watered” (as the hymn goes) sometimes needing the help of humans. So it is “faith” in what has been divinely programmed.
Now note what Jesus adds! “you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.’ Jesus is making a particular point. Sometimes Bible readers talk of faith to move mountains, but Jesus does not say, faith to move any mountain, he says, “faith to move this mountain”, and there is a particular mountain in Israel that God is going to move! It is programmed to happen – like the mustard seed.
Do we really believe the prophets with all our heart? It is prophesied “on that day” when “his feet shall stand on the mount of Olives … so that one half of the mountain shall move northward and the other half shall move southward” [Zech 14 v.4] – this mountain will move!
Recall the words of the “two men in white robes” (angels) to the astonished disciples who watched Jesus ascend from the Mount of Olives , “This Jesus .. will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” [Acts 1 v.11]
That time will be utterly awesome, just like the experience of those chosen disciples on the mount that we read today. When Jesus was transfigured, “they fell on their faces and were terrified” [v.7] In the future those with true faith will hear Jesus saying something like he said to those 3 disciples, “Rise and have no fear.”
What is our “faith like?” ` What wonders awaits those with a genuine faith that Jesus will reward – for “Nothing will be impossible” in God’s kingdom.