“Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not drive it out?’ 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 17:19-20, NASB).
A man with a demon-possessed son came to Jesus and asked Him to cast out the demon. The man explained that he had brought his son to Jesus’ disciples but they couldn’t cast out the demon. Jesus rebuked His disciples’ for their failure to trust Him and his saving and healing power (vs. 17).
Later the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t cast out the demon. In the NASB, Jesus describes their inability to cast out the demon using an unusual explanation–“because of the littleness of your faith.”
Jesus suggested that their faith was so miniscule that it was smaller than a mustard seed; it was inconsequential. It was like having no faith! Because if they had faith even as big as the tiny mustard seed, then they could move mountains.
It was almost as if Jesus was telling the disciples they had a complete lack of faith in Him!
But when you contrast Jesus’ declaration of the “littleness” of the faith of His disciples with the “great” faith of the Roman officer with a sick servant (8:10) and the Gentile woman with a possessed daughter (15:28), there doesn’t seem to be so much of a difference in the degree of faith they expressed. Their great faith was just a little faith, but it focused on Jesus’ power. Their great faith concentrated on Jesus being the Problem-Solver!
In fact, if you really think about it, Jesus was telling the disciples that their problem was not the demon that they couldn’t cast out. Their actual problem was their unbelief, their lack of faith.
Sometimes the obstacles in life that confront us seem so big that we fall into unbelief and despair. Big problems have a way of convincing us that we have little faith. And the bigger the problem, the littler our faith seems to be. We become like the father with the demon-possessed son in Mark 9 (which may be Mark’s version of this same story from Matthew) who said: “I do believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
But Jesus said you don’t measure faith in proportion to the size of the problems confronting you. The faith needed to solve a problem is disproportionate to the magnitude of the problem. In fact, according to Jesus, the biggest of problems requires only the smallest portion of faith.
So, you either have faith or your don’t. You approach life and the problems of life with faith or with unbelief. Either you rely on God or you rely on yourself!
Fortunately, there’s no minimum amount of faith required for God to intervene in your life. All you need is enough faith, faith the size of a mustard seed, to keep believing in the One who is bigger than your biggest problem, the One who can move mountains for you. He is the Problem-Solver.
Don’t believe the problem, believe in the Problem-Solver!
All things are possible to him who believes. (Mark 9:23, NASB)