All of us will experience the exhilarating highs of successfully accomplishing what God has given us to be and do. In those rare moments when all the details work together for good to those who believe, we rejoice. Immediately following those moments, we come down the mountain high to the valley where our faith is tried and examined. We see even more people who need Jesus. They need more love, mercy and grace to be extended from a heart that loves Jesus who can point them TO Jesus. We also learn that life is not all up to us and only our faith in Jesus brings healing with real transformation and change. Yes, our faith is built by Jesus who reveals himself, not only on the mountain tops of hope but also in the valleys of great need.
In our previous reading of Matthew, Peter, James and John have just been with Jesus on a mountain top. Jesus revealed His glory to them in ways that they would never forget! The experience will draw them closer to Jesus and to each other because of the experience. But now, in our reading of Matthew, they come down the mountain with Jesus to see a disagreeable crowd gathered around a man and his son. This man now falls at the feet of Jesus and pleads for help for his demon-possessed boy. The desperate father has only a “seed” of faith but comes to Jesus with what he has. How do we know the extent of the father’s faith? In Mark 9, the father of the boy reveals the amount of his faith in Jesus with, “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” This is followed by Jesus’ response, “What do you mean, IF I can?” The father sees his own lack of faith and instantly cries out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
Friends, haven’t we ALL been in the father’s state of faith believing in our own desperate times? Do we pray “if you can” at times. I’m going to stop that!
Honesty. God loves honesty and sincerity. Jesus heals the boy coupled with a teachable moment for the disciples, the onlooking crowd, along with the father of a healed son. The father’s mustard seed faith along with his prayer for God to grow his faith is heard. The gospel of Mark relates that when the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t heal the boy, Jesus responded, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.” Matthew writes Jesus’ response to his disciples as, “You didn’t have enough faith.”
FAITH AND PRAYER, PRAYER AND FAITH
Is this a discrepancy or a two-fold lesson? It is the latter. Prayer, believing God can do anything and everything, asking God what HE wants and doing what HE says, builds confident faith. Faith may begin as small as a mustard seed but coupled with believing prayer we learn from Jesus that He grows that faith into a mighty tree of confident faith!
James will write later, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4, NIV
We must always remember that God’s Word is all about God and our response to Him as we build an intimate, growing relationship with Him. When we read from that perspective, we learn and grow exponentially! “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1, NIV
I am recalling David’s prayer song, Psalm 23. I jump back to David’s prayer of the declaration of who God is and what He does for us—even in the valleys. I’m taking the 23rd personally, putting the words in my heart this morning as I read our Matthew passage about the amount of faith needed to not only climb mountains but to MOVE them!
“The Lord is my Shepherd. You are all I need.
You let me rest in green meadows. You lead me beside peaceful streams.
You renew my strength.
You guide me along right paths, bringing honor to Your Name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23
Mustard seed faith grows on mountain tops and in the valleys!
Matthew—God’s Law Fulfilled
Matthew 17:14-20, NLT
Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Boy
14 At the foot of the mountain, a large crowd was waiting for them. A man came and knelt before Jesus and said, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 So I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.”
17 Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy, and it left him. From that moment the boy was well.
19 Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?”
20 “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
Nothing, absolutely nothing is impossible for You. I believe. I want what You want because what You want is always best for us.
In Jesus Name, Amen