How Much Faith Do We Need?
Jesus’ face was fiery, magnificent, His union with His Father on display; and James and John were in awe; Peter too. But Peter was a man of action. So, while the cloud of God’s glorious oneness enveloped them, Peter couldn’t help but throw out ideas regarding things he could build. He was in the middle of suggesting shelters when a thunderous voice interrupted him,
“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
This was the second time the Father spoke those beautiful words over Jesus so all in proximity could hear. This time Jesus was atop a mountain with Peter, James, and John, and also Moses and Elijah. And this time Jesus was transfigured, transformed, His face shining like the sun.
Meanwhile, a crowd had gathered around the disciples who’d been left at the base of the mountain. The crowd was comprised of the needy, lost, and desperate; those who hoped that the boys, in the absence of Jesus, could provide some freedom from the oppressions of their cruel sin conscious world.
And the disciples did their best, but they were bewildered, ineffectual, short on power.
We know this because when Jesus came down the mountain, he was met by a distraught father who 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.” (See Matthew 17)
And Jesus, one with the Father, intimate with Holy Spirit, on His way to reconciling the world to Himself, heartbroken with the people’s slave-like devotion to a transactional way of thinking, said,
“You unbelieving and perverse generation…no sense of God, no focus to your lives. How long shall I stay with you? …How many times do I have to go over these things?” (See Matthew 17 NIV & Message)
Then Jesus rebuked the demon and the boy was healed.
And it was simple; like turning on a light.
And it was effective.
Jesus got measurable results in a world desperate for measurable results.
Later, when the disciples were alone with Jesus, they asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” Essentially, “Why couldn’t we do what you did?”
And Jesus answered. “It’s because you have so little faith.”
And at first read, in a world defined by measurements, that statement makes sense.
If you were to ask me why your car stalled a hundred miles from home and I said, “It’s because you have so little gas,” you would think, “OK, so I just need more gas.”
We read, “It’s because you have so little faith,” and our minds naturally form the question, “So, how much faith do we need? What is the measurement?”
Good news, Jesus tells us!
Even better news, it makes no sense.
Jesus continues, “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.” (See Matthew 17:14-21)
“So, how much gas do I need to drive the hundred miles home,” you ask. “Oh, just a thimble full,” I say. And then, while you look at me confused, I continue with grandiose claims of nonsense, “If you have just a thimble full of gas, you could fly your car to the Dagobah System and back…”
Did you know the Scanning Transmission Electron Holography Microscope stands 15 feet tall and weighs 14,000 pounds? Did you know “it can image at an unprocessed resolution of 35 trillionths of a meter, making it more powerful than any other microscope in the world?”
That’s the size and power of the microscope needed to quantify my faith in comparison with Gods’. Forget moving mountains, I couldn’t even Luke Skywalker a rock with the measure of my faith.
Thankfully, Jesus wasn’t really talking about measurements.
He never really is.
That’s because God is love and love is measureless. We can’t quantify it; we can’t do the math because love has no beginning and no end. We are invited to be filled to the measure of the fullness of love only to discover love’s ability to do immeasurably beyond all we can ask or imagine. (See Eph 3:19)
Love is a relationship. Jesus was addressing a transactional mind with a relational revelation. He was revealing a truth wrapped in the mystery of measureless love.
Jesus wasn’t being difficult; He was not suggesting faith was measurable and we could never have enough, He was saying faith is a measureless revelation and we are invited to become one with Him.
Jesus wasn’t talking about the size of our faith; He was revealing the nature of intimacy. He was speaking to space and time outside of space and time; He was addressing a finite way of thinking from an infinite revelation, love.
Jesus was revealing His intimacy with His Father, His oneness, and union with Holy Spirit. He was using the words of our understanding to invite us to know a love beyond understanding.
By the way, that’s always how God speaks to us, since the very beginning. That’s the nature of love; to communicate at the level of our understanding and ability in order to increase our capacity to understand and experience knowing.
And nothing is impossible for the person that knows this intimacy, this union, this love, this faith.
The impossible is simple, it’s like turning on a light.
Love, sovereignly given and received and given and received and given and received… We love because He first loved we love, because He first loved we love because He first loved, we love…. (See John 4:19)
In love, every impossibility is possible. Jesus lived heaven on earth, the kingdom at hand, but more to the point, the kingdom within. (See Mark 1:15 & Luke 17:20)
Faith, an infinite universe in a mustard seed.
Jason Clark is a writer, producer, speaker, and lead communicator at A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children, Madeleine, Ethan, and Eva.