Exercising Faith (Matthew 17:18-20)

Photo by Steven Coffey on Unsplash

Jesus is a perturbed at His disciples. Coming down from the Mount of Transfiguration   with Peter, James and John, He found the rest of them arguing with the teachers of the law while a man with a possessed son wondered why they could not drive the demon out. Jesus casts the demon out with a rebuke. “Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, 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.”” 

Earlier, Jesus had commissioned all twelve of His disciples, saying, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” The disciples did that (see Luke 9:10). Subsequently, on this occasion and with Jesus up the mountain, they found themselves again facing a demon that needed driving out. They no doubt tried as they had tried before, but this time they had not succeeded. 

Although Mark’s Gospel notes Jesus saying, “This kind can come out only by prayer,” Matthew’s Gospel account makes it clear that it was not their core methodology that was at the root of their failing. Jesus said they failed to drive it out on account of the shortness of their faith. 

Faith is that which drives us to pray, and faith is the key that unlocks the power in prayer. Jesus notes that faith by itself is powerful. It is faith in their equipment and strength that literally moves mountains as unbelieving people dig a mine. But Jesus says that those with enough faith in God can move mountains by edict. Where the disciples had faith for deliverance before, they lacked it now. That is because before, they literally had just heard Jesus tell them to do it. Now, they have to remember that Jesus previously told them to do it. That gap is the gap wherein doubt lives, and it is doubt that calls into question if we are really qualified to do what God would want us to do in the face of our present circumstance. 

A faithful life is a life that constantly remembers the Scripture. A prayerful life is a life that constantly wrestles with the Word of God spoken to us. Where the two overlap, there is no shortage of ability to deal with the demonic. There may even be enough to move mountains. But the two must overlap in the life of the disciple of God Most High. For without the operation of both faith and prayer, there will never be enough faith to do what God has assigned to us to do. We find instead that we constantly need others to remind us of our calling – and each time they do, we lose out on an opportunity to do something for the glory of God. 

One must remember and embrace the truth of our calling to exercise the faith to pursue our calling in the face of daily circumstance; “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Amen. 

Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation.

Andrew Murray

APPLICATION: Intentionality

What is God asking you to do? Exercise your faith today!