“He 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.’”
Matthew 17:20 (NIV)
The great Italian painter Raphael (1483-1520) painted his last work on the theme of the transfiguration as recorded in Matthew 17:1-8; Luke 9:28-36; Mark 9:2-8. However, one aspect of Raphael’s great work may not be true to fact. Raphael depicts the nine apostles at the foot of the mountain being in conflict. The Scriptures do not state there was fighting going on at the base of that mountain while Peter, James, and John were with the Lord, and Moses and Elijah.
However the painting does illustrate the contrast between intimate communion with the Lord and what happens to sinners when Jesus is just a short distance away. On the mountain top there was joy, learning, fellowship, and peace on Jesus’ company.
By way of contrast Raphael depicted that at the foot of the cross, away from the sight of Jesus was discord, fighting, unbelief, confusion, shame and despair. The lesson for the disciples was that they cannot always be on top of the mountain but we may carry the fellowship of private and corporate worship with us into the valleys and lowlands of life.
The disciples quickly forgot this great lesson as they tried unsuccessfully (Matthew 17:14-19) to cast out a young boy’s demon hours later. Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith.
Once again we observe the Lord using a figure of speech to demonstrate spiritual truth. He talks about the tiny size of a mustard seed and the size of the tree it becomes when planted. Then the Lord speaks about the fact that even the smallest bit of true faith can remove mountains from our pathway.
The Saviour wants the disciples to have faith in Him and not themselves. Where our faith is placed shall make all the difference. Apparently the disciples’ faith was in their past record of exorcising demons and not in the God Who is sovereign over His creation. Real faith—not how much faith—is the issue.
God’s limitless power for good is accessed by genuine faith in Him. How long will we quiver in unbelief because we rest on our own feeble resources rather than on the limitless resources of the living God? When will we avail ourselves of what God desires to give us?
We must have our times alone with the Lord on the mountain top in order to hear the voice of God speak to us. Then our faith will focus on the proper object, God Himself. As we go back into a sinful society our small but true faith will win us the victory.
Where is your faith today? How much about this sovereign God do you know? Feed your faith on biblical teaching, hear Him speak in the quiet moments and you shall remove mountains! “Nothing shall be impossible to you.”