In our reading from the gospel today,
The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" And the Lord said, "If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.
Then Jesus speaks about a servant doing his duty. He is to do his duty not seeking praise or glory. This is all part of Jesus’ response to the request of the Disciples, “Increase our Faith”. He tells the disciples you are doing what is expected of you no more, …and no less.
It seems to me Our Duty is to live by faith in Christ Jesus, - to Walk by Faith - and to be about the task of performing that duty each and every day.
Our Duty is to live by faith in Christ Jesus, and it is the performance of that Duty, that will accomplish, or fulfill that request for increased faith.
If you remember nothing else from today’s homily, remember this:
Our Duty is to live by faith in Christ Jesus, and it is the performance of that Duty, that will accomplish or fulfill that request for increased faith.
We are not to expect praise or glory from God. Living the Christian Life is what is expected of those who have been saved through Christ Jesus. Followers of the Christ must not just talk the talk, they must walk the walk. That is what Jesus is saying when he speaks about duty. It’s about Faith.
In Mark 11:23-24, Jesus said, "Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him”.
There is a very clear requirement that the Lord needs from each of us to be able to remove mountains, or throw mulberry bushes into the sea. That Requirement to moving mountains in prayer is having Faith in God.
But while that seems like a simple saying, it’s really not that simple. There are 4 significant facts about this required Faith in God.
1. The first significant fact is: The object of faith is God Himself.
The critical words are “in God”. Jesus did not just say, “Have faith,” but “Have faith in God.”
Faith MUST have an object. Faith has no value by itself; only the object (God) has value. This is why Linus’ faith in the Great Pumpkin never amounts to nor accomplishes a thing.
The Bible never says to have faith in faith, yet this is what most of us spend our time trying to do, and it doesn’t work. It never works.
Too often, a great difficulty or problem arises, and the believer feels they have to stir up their sincere faith. He or she feels that if he can just stir up enough fervor in their faith, he will whip the problem. But in reality they just have faith in faith. Their mind, their attention, and their heart have been focused upon faith not upon God.
Hear me very clearly. It isn’t our faith that moves the mountain. It isn’t our faith that casts the mulberry bush into the sea. A man’s faith is not going to and cannot move the mountain. God is the One who moves the mountain.
Faith requires knowing the object of Faith. Let me repeat that: Faith requires knowing the object of Faith. The more one knows the object of faith, the more one understands how the object may, or may not be trusted.
Consider the story of two men who want to go out on a frozen lake in Wisconsin to fish. One man is visiting from Florida and is told to go ahead and cross to the middle of the lake. He is assured by his friend that the ice will hold him up. Yet, when he begins to step out on the ice, he cautiously and tremblingly takes step after step—usually until he can stand it no more and returns.
But the other man who lives by the lake walks out courageously and boldly, cuts a hole in the ice, and sits down and begins to fish.
I have three important non-rhetorical questions for you.
• What supported the man sitting out there fishing on the ice?
Not his faith, but the ice—the object of his faith.
• Of the two, who had the strongest faith?
Of course the man out on the ice. The one with the weak faith is the man who slowly inched his way back.
• What made the difference?
One man knew the ice and the other man did not.
The Second Significant Fact about this required faith is its purpose. The Purpose of faith is to remove mountains.
The phrase “to remove mountains” or “to move mountains” was a common metaphor in 1st century Israel. The phrase was a metaphor meaning “to remove difficulties or obstacles”.
Jesus says "Have faith in God. Then say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea’”. Mountains represent the immovable, the seeming impossible obstacles in our lives. It is something that seems almost too steep to climb, almost too high to cross, almost too awesome to see beyond.
This is the reason Jesus discussed prayer and communion with God along with faith. We learn to have faith in God as we pray and commune, or spend time with God. And the more we pray and spend time with God the more we will know God; And the more we will experience the removal of the “mountains” that impede our godly progress through life.
The 3rd Significant Fact is the way to possess the required faith
and that way is through prayer.
Jesus explicitly says in Luke 17:6, "If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, …”. And in Mark 11 he says, ‘whoever… does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him”.
There are two crucial points in this promise. 1st, Not doubting at all. This means never having any doubt about whether a thing can be done or not. But realistically, only God Himself can know if a thing will happen or not.
But what Christ is after is that we grow in belief and trust. God wants us to believe that all things really are possible through Christ who strengthens us.
The 2nd crucial point is that of Believing in God’s authority. “Whoever… believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him”. The power of Christ came from the authority of God. All He had to do was say, that is, speak the word, and it was done. That is the very point He was making to us. If we believe, without doubt, standing firmly in the Will of God, then we stand in the authority of God.
The 4th Significant fact of faith, is the result of faith. A person who prays having faith, truly “having faith in God... it will be done for him”.
The insurmountable, immovable mountains which confront us suddenly are no longer insurmountable, immovable barriers. The “mountainous” nature of the problem is no longer mountainous.
Together with God, we are an overwhelming force. It’s not saying that the problems suddenly disappear entirely, but the mountainous overwhelming part? That’s gone, thrown into the sea.
Matthew 21:21-23 Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith."
The Requirement to moving mountains in prayer is having Faith in God. AMEN.