Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Kingdom Where Nothing is Impossible

Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20)
Jesus had just come back down the mountain with Peter, James and John when a man came up to Him, pleading for his son, a demon-possessed boy who suffered with severe epileptic seizures. He had brought the young man to Jesus’ disciples, but they were unable to heal him (Matthew 17:14-16).

Jesus responded to the situation with this: “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me” (v. 17). Jesus located the problem as one of faithlessness, a generation that had turned away. But who was He speaking about?

Perhaps the man. In Mark’s account, we find the man saying to Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). More likely, though, it was His disciples. After Jesus rebuked the demon and healed the boy, His disciples asked, in private, “Why could we not cast it out?” (Matthew 17:19). Jesus put it on them: “Because of your unbelief” (v. 20). The Greek word used for “unbelief” is the same root used for “faithlessness” in verse 17.

The problem was that they were not operating in faith, as they should have been. Eugene Peterson puts it this way in The Message, “Because you’re not taking God seriously.” They still had too much of the world’s way of thinking, too much of the world’s unbelief at work in them.

Then Jesus showed them the potential of faith, of taking God seriously: “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).

Faith is like a seed. It does not have to be big to get a big result, but it does have to be used, to be planted. When you have faith, even a little bit, the exercise of it is simple: You say to the mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. However, if there is unbelief going on inside your heart, it will hinder your faith—you have to make a choice to go with one and not the other.

Jesus added, “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (v. 21). This kind of what? Many people think it refers to the kind of demon that was in the boy. But Jesus did not engage in a lot of praying and fasting when He cast that demon out; He simply rebuked it and it left (v. 18).

The purpose of praying and fasting is not so we can get rid of demons, but so we can get rid of unbelief. We know that Jesus had already done a lot of praying and fasting in His life and ministry. He had already dealt with any issues of doubt that tried to creep in (see Matthew 4-11). Ultimately, unbelief is a tool of the devil, a seed he is always trying to plant in our hearts. Praying and fasting helps us focus on God and hear His Word. That is how faith comes, and how it is strengthened in us (Romans 10:17). When we let faith in God fill our hearts, we will leave no place for the doubts of the devil to have a foothold. It gets crowded out. Then nothing will be impossible.

In the kingdom of Heaven on Earth, nothing is impossible when we take God and His promises seriously.



The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
Keys to the Kingdom of God
in the Gospel of Matthew

by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.