In this scriptural episode, Jesus led Peter, James, and John up a high mountain. They often joined Him in prayer, and on that day something incredible happened on top of the mountain: Jesus became transfigured before them… His face radiated like the sun, and His clothing became white as light. (Matthew 17:2) Whatever happened, Matthew recorded the event as a transfiguration, not a ‘disfiguration’ which Jesus experienced in the brutality He endured leading to His crucifixion. In other words, something supernatural occurred, and they witnessed it.
In fact, Peter, James, and John must have all attested to Matthew that they saw two others standing with Jesus in conversation. Those two others were none other than Moses and Elijah. Some theologians have unsuccessfully tried to assert that the two individuals represented God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. However, the testimony of the three disciples lend credence to Jesus actually conferring with Moses and Elijah! Imagine Moses and Elijah meeting each other in heaven and becoming friends! And here they are conversing with the King of Kings! (v.3)
The supernatural experience did not conclude with the visitation from the two patriarchs. A bright cloud came over the top of the mountain and they heard God’s voice from the cloud say: “This is my Son, in Whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” (v.5) It can’t be hard to understand just how completely disoriented this experience would have left those three disciples. On their trip back down the mountain, Jesus instructed them to tell no one about the vision until after His death and resurrection (vv. 17:9-13).
Once they were back to ground level, they encountered a crowd that had gathered. In the crowd was a man with a son who suffered from epilepsy. He described to Jesus how the disciples were unable to bring healing to his son. Jesus seemed to complain, though He was simply declaring the corruption of the world’s perspective. You see, the man disparaged His disciples, and Jesus was defending their honor and worth with His reply. Jesus rebuked the ‘spirit’ of epilepsy (I believe all sickness and disease was brought on by the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, so it was only natural for the Lord to call out the spirit of the disease), and the boy was instantly healed. (vv. 14-18)
Later, the disciples gathered with Jesus privately and inquired about their failure to bring healing to the boy. Jesus described the root cause of this failure as unbelief… that’s right, their lack of faith. Seems hard to believe that a group of men who had seen Jesus feed the multitude, heal the sick, and commission them to do the same would come up short on the scales of faith. So, Jesus used it as a teachable moment to reveal an eternal truth:
“I tell you the truth, 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 for you. But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (vv. 20-21)
Evidently, the disciples who tried to deliver the boy from sickness had not practiced praying with Jesus, as did Peter, James and John. Jesus had just descended the mountain of which He spoke and commanded the spirit to depart. Could Peter, James, or John have done the same thing? I think so. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jesus had spoken to the mountain to move, creating a momentary earthquake, though that is not the method Jesus chose for the lesson.
How does this apply to us today? Jesus revealed that the size of one’s faith is not that important, using the object lesson of a mustard seed – one of the smallest garden variety seeds. In fact, He may have actually taught the smaller the size of one’s faith, the stronger it may be!
It seems faith is exercised under authority. One’s faith depends on the power of God to be released. It’s like a muscle, the more it is exercised the stronger it becomes (even if it’s a small muscle). The more we see the results of exercised faith, the more we are apt to use it for the purposes God designed it to be used. Consider the muscle of the heart; it’s only as big as one’s fist, yet through a lifetime, one’s heart will have pumped one million barrels of blood – enough to fill two super tankers of oil!
The eternal truth revealed in this passage shouts of the power of faith: nothing is impossible to the Believer who activates his/her faith for God’s eternal purposes! Faith’s author and provider is God Himself (read Hebrews 12:2). Jesus reinforced this eternal precept when He taught of the exponential strength of exercised faith in numbers (read Matthew 18:19-20; John 14:13-14). When we pray, pray knowing heaven is on our side! Pray confidently. Pray with others who agree. Pray like it all depends on you, placing it in God’s hands with the knowledge that it all depends on Him.
Yes, faith is an eternal dynamic in the life of every Believer… we will even exercise that faith in Heaven through worship in proclamations of honor and praise. Yes, faith is an eternal dynamic of The Covenant relationship when the church - the Bride of Christ - will display total faith and confidence in her Redeemer - the faithful Groom.
Have a blessed day…