Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Faith To Move Mountains

In Mark chapter 11, we find Mark's retelling of Jesus cursing a fig tree on the way to Jerusalem.  I've actually posted a little about that and how it connects to the book of Jeremiah before.  Mark, much like Matthew in his gospel, connects this story with faith.  The story ends with Jesus saying that if his disciples have enough faith, they will receive anything they ask for in prayer, including (but not limited to) mountains throwing themselves into the sea.

I really wrestle with that statement.  Growing up, this passage was always used to challenge individuals to deeper faith.  It might be fair to say "guilt" people into deeper faith.  "Have you moved mountains," the argument would go, the obvious answer to which was no, "Then you better try harder.  Your faith is weak."  But the thousands of years that have passed after Jesus said this statement, no mountains have thrown themselves into the sea. Granted, I don't see the point in praying for that to happen anyway, but are we to believe that no one has had enough faith to do it?  Is Jesus basically calling all his followers faith wimps?

Maybe some of you can help me out here.  I'm wondering if Jesus is hinting at an Old Testament parallel here, maybe somewhere in the prophets.  After all, his whole interaction with the fig tree is an Old Testament parallel.  I'm hoping that there is some reference, some connection, that if uncovered would clarify Jesus' statement.  I hope so, becaue like I said, otherwise we're left with a guilt trip for not being able to move mountains, and that just doesn't seem right.


  1. I've thought a lot about this passage before. I feel stuck with the same problem you present. Either Jesus is speaking in metaphors or no one on Earth has ever had real faith. However consider this, based on his own words Jesus would himself show a lack of faith. Remember Jesus did not have a perfect record of receiving everything he ever asked for in prayer. The cup was not taken from him.

    Well, that doesn't seem right. Of course Jesus had real faith, HE WAS GOD. Maybe the faith that Jesus describes is one that is perfectly in tune with the will of God himself. After all, that is the only thing that was different about Jesus' prayer in the garden. He was praying for something that stood at odds to Gods will.

    So maybe we can say that someone with true faith could move a mountain with prayer, but it will only be because they are already fully aware that it is God's will that it move.

  2. Of course, now that I've said all that I realize that my presentation of the role of God's will stands at odds to my own beliefs about it. But, I guess I'll work that problem out later :P

  3. I've been wondering here lately if Jesus is making a statement about what is at the heart of the Kingdom of God. Walking into Jerusalem, and through the fig tree, basically saying that the established religion of Jerusalem as bore no fruit, I wonder if Jesus's statement about faith is an attempt to say that the temple and Torah are being replaced by trust in God. Since much of what Jesus does during his last week in Jerusalem is say, "I'm doing away with this," that makes sense to me. I'm just not sure how I can back that idea up with proof.