There is something different about chapter 17. You can feel it. You can taste it. The drama intensifies.
A Dramatic Shift and Peter’s Objection
In 16:21, Matthew tells us that Jesus became singularly focused on getting to Jerusalem, enduring his cross, and preparing his disciples for that time. To prepare them, he had to give them a new mindset, a mind set on the things of God, not on the things of men. The needed a shift from the realm of rational possibility to the realm of supernatural reality. And, that’s what Jesus gave them.
A Glorious Experience (17:1-13)
He graciously took three of them to the top of the mountain and gave them a glimpse of his heavenly glory — a reminder what he possessed before he became man and a foretaste of what he will posses in his future exaltation. These three disciples — James, John, and Peter — were providentially chosen to the be the future leaders of the small band. They were the inner circle. In his grace, Jesus deemed it necessary to give them the privilege of glimpsing his glory to validate his call on their lives and the reality of his prophetic claims.
The Right Kind of Faith is Necessary (17:14-20)
After their mountaintop experience, Jesus and his disciples had an encounter with a man whose son was demon-oprressed. He had bought his son to Jesus’ disciples, but the disciples couldn’t cast out the demon. So, he brought the boy to Jesus. Jesus did cast out the demon. Amazed and confused, the disciples asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out the demon?” Jesus said, “Because of your little faith.”
The point of this story is not to question the amount of the disciples faith. It is to make a necessary distinction between defective and effective faith. The disciples had faith. That’s for certain. But, their faith was defective. It wasn’t functioning properly because it was limited to the possible. It wasn’t expectantly looking to the impossible. Jesus explained it this way, “If you have the faith of a grain of mustard seed, you will say to the mountain, ‘Move from here to there, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible to you.'” The issue isn’t the “amount” of faith we posses; rather, it is the object of our faith and our expectation of our God to accomplish the impossible.
Is Your Faith Effective or Defective?
Take a moment to think about the kind of faith you posses. Ask yourself, “Do I have the kind of faith in the God of glory that allows you to anticipate his accomplishment of the impossible?” The Transfiguration gives us a clear picture of our all-powerful, all-gracious moving heaven and earth to accomplish his glorious purposes. This is the kind of faith effectively prepares and empowers us to accomplish the will of our King while on this earth.