Have you ever heard something that was too good to be true? The joy of the news quickly turns to disbelief as you process the information and begin to rationalize it away. In Mark 11 Jesus makes a shocking statement to the disciples that at first look seems too good to be true.
Jesus has just performed another miracle that has gotten the attention of the disciples. A simple curse causes a fruitless fig tree to wither and die within 24 hours. Jesus takes advantage of this teachable moment and tells the disciples they can do even greater things than this. He informs them that if they believe they can command a nearby mountain to be taken up and thrown into the sea. They have only to have faith in God, believe and not doubt. And this promise is not just for the disciples. Jesus states it is for anyone who believes. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Jesus is not speaking literally in this context. He is using hyperbole to highlight the power of God that can be experienced through prayer. Jesus wants to highlight the limitless power of a Sovereign God who is working on behalf of His children.
But with this passage we must be careful of an erroneous interpretation. It may be tempting to look at this promise and think of all of the incredible things we can see accomplished as we exercise or faith in prayer. But what happens when the mountain is not moved? What happens when the healing doesn’t come, the financial provision doesn’t arrive, the opportunity is lost? Well, clearly you didn’t have enough faith. After all, Jesus said you must believe and not doubt. So, if the mountain doesn’t move it means you had more doubt than faith.
But as we look at the greater context of Scripture we see this is not at all what Jesus was meaning in this passage. In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul repeatedly prays for God to remove a “thorn in the flesh.” God responds with a gracious “no.” This answer came not because Paul did not have enough faith, but because God wanted to magnify His power in Paul’s weakness.
Furthermore, in James 1 the author tells us that if we lack wisdom we must ask God with no doubting and He will give us what we need. James does not mean there will not be moments of doubt. Instead he is calling for an overall life of faith and trust in God. As opposed to a person that is spiritually divided in his allegiance to God. This person trusts in God for a moment, but then doubts and begins to trust in his own power and resources.
In Luke 17 Jesus provides additional teaching that helps to clarify the passage in Mark 11. He tells us that if we have the faith of a mustard seed we can see God do incredible things through prayer. His point is that it is not about the amount of faith but the object of our faith.
And so, as we come back to Mark 11 Jesus wants us to focus not so much on the amount of faith we may possess but on the greatness, the power, the majesty of a Sovereign King of the Universe who loves and cares for us, His children. It is this God, our Father, who promises to work for us to move the mountains in our lives for our good and His glory.
But coming back to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 we are reminded that the mountains we think need to be moved may not be the ones that God knows really need moving. And so, we need to trust that God will always answer our prayers for what is truly best in our lives.
So, we see that Jesus’s statement is actually not too good to be true. We are reminded that this incredible God loves us and promises to do everything for our good and His glory. He invites us to ask Him to meet our needs. So, take time today to remind yourself of the greatness and power of God by soaking your soul in the truth of God’s Word. And then begin to pray that He will move the various mountains in your life while trusting in His perfect will and having faith in His awesome power.