Only Jesus had perfect faith and he gives a very useful lesson about it in Matthew 17. He had come down from the mountain where he had been with 3 of his disciples and in the meantime the other disciples had been unable to heal an epileptic boy. They had reason to think they would be able to heal as they had earlier performed healings when sent out by Jesus: “Proclaim the kingdom … Heal the sick …” (10:7,8) among “the lost sheep of the house of Israel”.
They had the faith then, but they had been specially commissioned by Jesus to do so. This time Jesus calls them, “Faithless … how long am I to be with you?” (verse 17) and heals the boy “instantly” (verse 18). They ask Jesus why were they unable to heal, he says, “Because of your little faith” (verse 20). Then he makes a remarkable statement, “… if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed you will say …”.
Now a mustard seed has been divinely programmed to grow into a mustard bush, which grew as high as a horse’s head as long as it is “fed and watered”. This is faith in what has been divinely programmed. Now note what Jesus adds. “You will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.’” Jesus is making a particular point. Sometimes Bible readers talk of faith to move mountains, but Jesus does not say, faith to move any mountain, he says, “faith to move this mountain”. There is a particular mountain in Israel that God is going to move. It is programmed to happen – like the mustard seed.
Do we believe the prophets with all our heart? It is prophesied “on that day” when “his feet shall stand on the mount of Olives … so that one half of the mountain shall move northward and the other half shall move southward” (Zechariah 14:4) – this mountain will move! Recall the words of the “two men in white robes” to the astonished disciples who watched Jesus ascend from the Mount of Olives, “This Jesus … will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
That time will be awesome, just like the experience of those chosen disciples on the mount. When Jesus was transfigured, “they fell on their faces and were terrified” (verse 7). In the future those with true faith will hear Jesus saying something like he said to those 3 disciples, “Rise and have no fear”.
What is our faith like? What wonders awaits those with a genuine faith that Jesus will reward – for “Nothing will be impossible” in God’s kingdom.