Matthew 17:14-20 – And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
I love this passage for so many reasons. I find myself in it in the failure of the disciples and I am encouraged by Jesus’ rebuke and encouragement. From an earthly perspective the disciples had faith. After all they had every expectation that they could heal the man’s son and were surprised when they could not. From a heavenly perspective however, they had “little faith” – matter of fact, they almost had no faith at all because all they needed was faith like a grain of mustard seed (a VERY small seed). So Jesus in essence says, “O ye of little faith! Why don’t you have a little faith?” It sounds confusing – but it really isn’t. The disciples had lost sight of their dependence upon God to do the work of healing. We know this is true from the corresponding account in Mark 9, for there Jesus reminded them that prayer was necessary (Mark 9:29). Do we not often try to do the Lord’s work in our own strength? Do we think, “I got this” and fail to pray – and then find ourselves surprised when we realize we don’t really “got this”? A little faith in the right place – in the right person – goes a long, long way. So let’s keep our eyes fixed on Christ each day.