Sunday, May 3

Increase my faith!

Scripture: 2 Samuel 8-9, 1 Chronicles 18-19, Matthew 21

Matthew 21:21–22 Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. 22 You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

Observation

The morning after His triumphal entry, as Jesus was entering Jerusalem, He saw a fig tree and was hungry—but the tree was barren.  No fruit.  So Jesus cursed the fig tree and it withered.  Many scholars believe this incident was prophetic, that the fig tree was a common symbol of Israel, and the nation was barren spiritually and about to be judged (the Romans sacked and burned Jerusalem in 70 AD).  

Jesus’ disciples took it more literally.  They were amazed that the tree withered so quickly.  V. 21-22 were Jesus’ response to their incredulity.  Jesus used the experience to teach them about the power of faith in God.  In Mark’s version of this—in Mark 11—Jesus’ says, “Have faith in God.”  So more correctly, it’s not about the power of faith, but faith in the power of God.  It’s not faith in faith; it’s faith in God.  

Faith in God leads to amazing things!  The disciples needed more faith.  So do I!

Application

“If you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more.”  This is a staggering statement.  Honestly, it makes me feel that I don’t have much faith!  I find this extremely challenging.  Are there other conditions?  I believe there are.  I don’t think that Jesus means we can give God orders, that God is our genie ready to do our bidding, whatever we want.  We are here to do God’s will, not vice versa.  So our first task is to determine what God wants, what God is saying, and then do that, believing that God will work.  That’s when miracles happen.  

Faith in God means that I trust God to do whatever He said He would, not whatever I want Him to.  The initiative is always His.  Faith is a response to God’s initiative.

But did God tell Jesus to curse the fig tree?  Or was Jesus acting alone?  In John 5:19, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.”  Jesus didn’t act alone; He did was He saw the Father doing.  

Faith is responding to God’s lead.  That’s how Jesus lived, and how we should too.

“You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”  There is no doubt that faith—our ability to believe and trust God—affects our prayers.  But again, I don’t think that Jesus is making God our genie, our servant who is bound to do whatever we ask of Him because we believe.  

I think that if I had more faith, I’d prayer bigger prayers.  I think if I had more faith, I’d see more of those prayers answered.  I think my faith needs to grow.  How does that happen?  “Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ.”  (Romans 10:17). 

As I soak up God’s word, as I pray and listen, and as I exercise my faith and see God work, my faith grows.  And my big takeaway from this passage—every time—is that, like the disciples, my faith in God needs to grow!

Prayer: Lord, with the disciples, I pray: “Increase my faith.”