When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at 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. 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 17:14-20

Just after the transfiguration, we get this episode in the Gospels. We probably are familiar with the “faith like a mustard seed” idea because it often comes up as an inspiring or encouraging word. Indeed, it ought to be! If we can manage that much, we can do great things. But Jesus intended it in the original passage as a rebuke!

His disciples were witness to many miracles, to Jesus’ teaching from his own mouth and to the lives that were changed by Jesus in so many ways. And yet! Regardless of all they witnessed or they themselves accomplished in their own work, they lacked faith in God to a significant enough degree that sending out this one unclean spirit was impossible for them.

What do we feel is impossible for us? What power do we lack? Whatever that is, we should lean on God and trust his power to help us. After all, that’s what faith is.

Ethan Kirl