What Does Matthew 17:20 Mean?

And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, 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 to you.

Matthew 17:20(NASB)

Verse of the Day

The disciples had been with Jesus constantly for three years. They had heard his authoritative teachings, been given great revelation about the Son of Man Who was in their midst, and heard the voice of God proclaim, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased," They had witnessed the Lord Jesus perform many mighty miracles that clearly authenticated His Messianic claims, and they themselves had been endowed with power from on high to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

They also had received authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out and to drive out demons. And yet, as Christ's three-and-a-half-year ministry drew to its close, His chosen disciples were incapable of casting out the tormenting spirit from a demon-possessed boy. Jesus had just been transfigured before Peter, James, and John who glimpsed the glory of His heavenly majesty, and yet as Jesus returned to the remaining nine disciples, He was approached by the father of a boy with epilepsy who was distraught because Christ's disciples had tried, and failed, to cast out the demon from his son.

Jesus responded with a strong rebuke that demonstrated an element of righteous frustration with His own disciples, by saying: "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me." The men who were in training to carry on Christ's ministry after Israel's rejection of His offer of the kingdom and His forthcoming sacrificial death on a Roman cross, had failed miserably in this test of faith.

Jesus had known for some time that the Jewish leaders had rejected Him when they accused Him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub. He also knew that the people only followed Him for the physical benefits they received from Him rather than their spiritual hunger for the truth. And so He said to them: "Because of the littleness of your faith; truly I say to you, 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 to you."

Despite walking with Jesus for years, seeing Him perform many mighty miracles, proclaiming Him to be 'the Messiah - the Son of the living God', and being endowed with miraculous power themselves, Jesus scolded His disciples for their weak faith. It was not the amount of faith that was lacking but trusting in the object of their faith - which is Jesus. They were not trusting HIM. It was not the quantity of faith that mattered but the Person upon Whom their faith was founded. The faith of the disciples should have been rooted and grounded on the Person of Christ, but instead, they were relying on themselves and their own abilities instead of Christ's strength. Because of their lack of faith in Jesus, none of His disciples could cast out the demon. Due to their lack of faith in Christ, He could not or would not work the works of God through them.

The value and outworking of our Christian faith is found in Christ alone and not in the strength, intensity, or size of our faith. It is not pumping up faith in our own faith and abilities. The tiniest amount of faith placed in the correct OBJECT is the key to moving mountains. Once we understand that without Christ we can do nothing, but through Christ we can do all things, because He gives us His strength. When the object of our faith is Christ, then nothing will be impossible, because God will be enabled to work His work through us. The value of our Christian faith is to rest our trust entirely on Christ Who must be the singular object of our faith. When faith is anchored on Christ, we may be sure that He will not disappoint us.

May we never forget that faith is dependence upon God and this God-dependence can only develop when self-dependence ends. This was the lesson that Christ's disciples had yet to learn when they were unable to cast out the demon from the boy with epilepsy.

Just as the body needs a daily intake of food, so the soul needs a continuous intake of Christ, the Word of God: "For faith comes by hearing and hearing from the Word of God." And it is as we grow in grace and mature in our Christian walk that we will discover that we can apply faith correctly; for the glory of God. Faith is like a muscle that needs to be exercised every day, and when faith is anchored on Christ, it will grow and be strengthened: "And THIS is the victory that overcomes the world - even our faith."

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, I come to You in faith, knowing that You must be the only object of my faith and that without You I can do nothing. I put my trust in You, Lord, knowing that You are faithful and will never disappoint me. Help me look to Jesus, moment by moment, and to anchor my faith in Him Who is the Living Word, knowing that without Him I can do nothing... and yet in Christ I can do all things. Thank You, Father, that it is not the amount of faith that is important in Your sight, but the One in Whom I place my faith. Thank You for Your goodness, grace, and unfailing love. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

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