Matthewby Mike Raiter
From the mountain, we now move to the valley. After seeing the transfigured glory of the Lord Jesus, we now see the weakness of the disciples.
Jesus has already given the disciples authority over demons (Matthew 10:1, 8), and they have done mighty works in His name. Now they confront a young boy with a demon that expresses its oppression by causing seizures. There is nothing in this boy's condition that the disciples have not seen before, yet they cannot heal him. The difference is not in the condition of the boy, but in the hearts of the disciples. Since they know God's power over such demonic forces, their failure is inexcusable.
Jesus' disappointment and frustration with His disciples is evident. He rebukes them for their ″little faith″. We see here two kinds of ″little faith″. The first is not really faith at all (v. 17): it is faith in word only. The disciples had forgotten all they had experienced of Jesus' ministry and had stopped looking to God. Their faith seems as shallow as the unbelieving society around them.
The second is a faith that Jesus commends. This faith, like a mustard seed, will see mountains move, because this kind of faith trusts in the power and purposes of God (vv. 20-21). The issue with faith is not how much you have, but where you place it. It is a big God, more than big faith, which moves mountains.
Jesus again reminds His followers of His impending death, which will mean the end of the old age (v. 22). The temple, God's symbolic dwelling place, was the central institution of that age. As God's Son, Jesus is not subject to requirements like paying a tax for the temple's upkeep (vv. 25-26). Yet He continues to pay it so that He will not cause unnecessary offence. The miraculous provision of the coin demonstrates God's approval of His behaviour (v. 27).
Sometimes you hear people say, ″If you had more faith . . .″ That can make us look inward and attempt to drum up more faith. No, look more to God. Remind yourself of the God of Matthew's gospel. He is the One who is big! He is the One who is willing and able. He is the mountain mover.
Why does Jesus liken the disciples to their unbelieving generation? Why do you think they have stopped believing in the power of God?
What are the characteristics of ″mustard seed faith″ (v. 20)? Why do you think Jesus commends this kind of ″little faith″?