Summary: Have faith in God. Focus not on the size of your faith but the size of your God. Who do you believe in is important. Do not shift your focus away from God and onto your self, your skills, your knowledge or past accomplishments.
[Adapted from a chapter in Rev Edmund Chan’s book Growing Deep in Faith.]
A young boy was being tormented by a demon.
?He has seizures and is suffering greatly, and would even throw himself into the fire or water.
?His family was at a lost what to do. His father brought him to the disciples of Jesus.
?It was one of the most embarrassing situations the disciples had ever faced. They could not cast out the demon.
They were disciples-in-training. They were still learning, like many of us today.
?Jesus was not around. Matt 17:1 tells us Jesus went up a mountain with Peter, James and John.
?The nine disciples were left to fend for themselves without their Master.
?They tried to cast out the demon but nothing happened.
They tried. It was not for the lack of trying.
?This was not an entirely new situation for them. They had seen demons cast out by Jesus before. We read about that in Matt 8 and 9.
?In fact, Jesus had given them the authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness (in Matt 10:1). So they might likely have participated in some of these healing situations.
?They have seen it and experienced it, but it was not working now. They tried but nothing happened.
Until Jesus came. And with authority, Jesus cast out the demon instantly.
?They son was delivered. The father was grateful. Everyone was happy. But the disciples were disturbed.
?They waited until Jesus was alone, and came privately to ask Him. It was a shameful thing to have failed.
?Why Lord? Why could we not cast out the demon?
What is the heart of the problem?
?Jesus did not say, “You say the wrong words when you pray.? The problem wasn’t about the method, the way you pray.
?Jesus did not say, “You did not try hard enough.? The problem wasn’t about the lack of diligence.
?Jesus did not say, “You are not skilful or smart enough.? The problem wasn’t about the lack of skills or wisdom.
?Nor did Jesus say, “Because the demons were too powerful.? The issue wasn’t the lack of divine power or authority.
?When Jesus gave us the great commission to go and make disciples of all nations, He said, “ALL authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…”
So it wasn’t about the method they used, the efforts they put in, the lack of skills or intelligence. And it wasn’t because the demons were powerful.
?Jesus put His finger on just one thing ?verse 20: “Because you have so little faith.?
?The central issue was faith. Faith taps into the power of God. Faith pleases God. Heb 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.?
If this is so important in ministry, then we need to take note of it.
?The heart of the problem is the problem of our heart. Do you really trust God? Do you have faith in God?
?It has little to do with how seriously ill the boy was. It has nothing to do with how bad the situation was. It has nothing to do with the demons.
?It has to do with our faith in God.
If the problem is this “so little faith? then the logical solution is to have GREAT faith.
?I expected Jesus to say something like this: “You failed because you have little faith; if only you have a bigger faith, or deeper faith or a more complete faith, or a fuller faith?then you will succeed!?
?But Jesus did not say that. In the same breath, He said, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain…”
?I expected him to say something like: “Your faith is too small, if you have faith as big as a durian seed…”
It’s almost like saying: “Your faith is small. But in fact, if you have a small faith, as small as a mustard seed, you would have done the job!?
?The mustard seed was the smallest of the garden seeds known. “Small as a mustard seed?was a common idiom that referred to something unusually small.
?And “removing mountains?was a figure of speech used to describe something impossible or very difficult.
?As difficult as this situation was, as sick as this boy was, nothing can stop God from doing His will, if you have faith in Him (even if your faith is as small as a mustard seed).
You see, the emphasis here is not the SIZE of your faith, but the PLACEMENT of your faith (even though small). You can have a misplaced faith or a wrong faith.
?Jesus used the words, “O unbelieving and perverse generation…” The hint here is that the people are not having faith IN GOD.