January 20, 2016
Matthew 17 tells of a time when Jesus’ disciples were asked to help a hurting family solve a problem but were unable to do so. When Jesus was asked for help, He took care of the situation. Afterward, the disciples came to Him privately and wondered why they were unable to do what was asked.
Jesus told them it was due to their lack of faith. His explanation can also be translated as “unbelief.” But “The Message,” a paraphrase of the Bible, says this: “Because you’re not yet taking God seriously.” I have been pondering that statement as a definition for “lack of faith.”
In daily life challenges, we talk about taking someone seriously. Parents remind children that the boundaries established, and the consequences for going beyond them, are to be observed seriously. The loan company is serious about the terms of an agreement. Wedding vows are to be followed with utmost seriousness. Basic to all of these life experiences is the matter of faith. We believe and therefore we follow through with appropriate action.
The context of Matthew 17 is all about faith. Three of the disciples had just witnessed the amazing transfiguration of Jesus. While in His presence, they saw Moses and Elijah and heard God declare: “This is My beloved Son – listen to Him.” It was after this that the disciples were approached by the hurting family that they were unable to help.
Jesus’ explanation sounds to me like a scolding: “It is your unbelief. Just a tiny faith would result in great accomplishments” (my paraphrase). I can relate to this, because my life is often clouded by lack of faith. I am like the man who said to Jesus, “I do believe – help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). But I have gained helpful insight by pondering the idea of not taking God seriously.
When God speaks, He intends to be taken seriously. He does not joke around. His promise of forgiveness and the hope of heaven are serious realities. And His Word that anyone who does not believe will be separated from Him forever is also serious. I appreciate the reminder today to take Him seriously and to encourage others to do the same.
Pastor Bill Ehmann