Matthew 17:14-20 (VOICE) 14 They had come down from the mountain, and as they headed toward town, they came to a crowd. As they approached the crowd, a man rushed up to Jesus and knelt before Him. Man from the Crowd: 15 Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures. Sometimes when they come on, my son falls into the fire or into a pond. We are very concerned for him. 16 I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not heal him. Jesus: 17 This generation is no better than the generation who wandered in the desert, who lost faith and bowed down to golden idols as soon as Moses disappeared upon Mount Sinai! How long will I have to shepherd these unbelieving sheep? (turning to the man) Bring the boy to Me. 18 The man did, and Jesus castigated the demon who had taken up residence in the boy. And the demon fled the boy’s body at the sound of Jesus’ voice, and the boy was healed from that moment on. No more shaking. No more falling into fires. 19 Later, when they were away from the crowds, the disciples asked Jesus why they hadn’t been able to drive out the demon themselves. Jesus: 20 Because you have so little faith. I tell you this: if you had even a faint spark of faith, even faith as tiny as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and because of your faith, the mountain would move. If you had just a sliver of faith, you would find nothing impossible.
This weekend one of the cable stations that often play older movies (TBS, TNT, AMC, etc.) was running a Star Wars marathon. At a few different points in the weekend I was able to catch a few minutes of my favorite Star Wars movie (and one of my favorite movies period), The Empire Strikes Back.
This passage from Matthew always makes me think of a scene from that movie. In the movie, Luke Skywalker has travelled to the swamp planet Degoga to train with Jedi master Yoda. At one point Luke’s space ship begins to sink into the swamp. Luke tries to use the Force to lift the ship out of the water but ultimately fails. In his exasperation, he turns to Yoda (who is barely two feet tall) and says, ‘I can’t, it’s just too big’.
At that point Yoda reprimands him, asking if Luke judges him by his (small) size. Yoda, in his trademark style says, ‘size matters not. Do or do not, there is no try’. He then puts action to his words, by raising Luke’s ship out of the swamp and placing it on dry ground.
There is an obvious implication from that scene to our scripture for this day: there is - or at least can be – incredible power in small packages. This is definitely true in the Star Wars universe as it pertains to Yoda, and it is even more true in our world when it comes to faith.
Faith, properly placed in Jesus Christ, is a source of power even those of us who possess it rarely recognize or fully utilize. This revelation about faith feels like something of a double-edged sword. There is the wonderful news for all of us in the power that even a small amount of faith can hold.
Conversely, there is an indictment in these words, because most of us have never moved any mountains with our faith. So what does this mean? Are we completely devoid of faith? That isn’t really the point we should be focused on as we look at this passage.
The first thing that we should note is that, ultimately, the need that is presented – the child with leprosy – is met. Just like in Star Wars, when the disciple wasn’t able to perform the miracle, the master steps in and handles it.
And it is in light of that truth – that the miracle happens and that it happens at the hand of Jesus – that we need to hear those words in the end of the passage about faith. In the end, it is much less important how much faith we have, but rather where that faith is placed.
In the movie, Luke fails because he doesn’t believe he can do it. I think something similar happened to the disciples and to all of us. Few of us have seen mountains move in our lives, at least in part, because we don’t believe they can.
But in the end, the issue isn’t what we are capable of or what we aren’t, it is about whether or not we are really willing to put our faith in Jesus, who is capable of moving mountains and so much more.
Sharing God’s Love,
Prayer: Lord, help us to place our faith and trust in you. Open our eyes to see and believe all that is possible in and through you. Amen.