July 16th, 2021

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A Note from Pastor Lou -- Truly #63 -- You Have His Faith

You Have His Faith                                                                                                                                                                                                                   7.14.2021  

                 

And Jesus answered them,
"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."

Matthew 21:21-22

          More so than many others, it can be challenging to fully grasp the meaning of this promise spoken by Jesus.  At first reading, he seems both petulant and extravagant.  It seems petulant that he curses a fig tree for not having fruit for him to eat at the moment he needs it, and it withers away immediately.  It also seems extravagant for him to imply anyone with faith can move a mountain into the sea or get whatever they want simply by praying in faith for it.  What is really at work here?

          Jesus curses the fig tree as the final act in cleansing the Temple.  He is not at all pleased that his Father's house, which should be a house of prayer, has become a den of thieves.  He casts out the money-changers, cleansing the Temple, and as a final exclamation point his action causes the withering of the fig tree.  He is speaking judgment against the Jewish people -- "May no fruit ever come from you again," (v.19). There is a new order of God's doing in the world.  With a word he has declared the old ways done.

          The disciples are shocked.  Should they be?  Is this not the same Lord who stilled the sea of Galilee with a word?  Now they get a real eye-opener. "Truly I say to you." We know something is coming.  "Whenever you have faith and have no [wavering, misgiving, hesitation, doubt, messed up thought], you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but also mountains, etc."  So how are we doing?  Has anyone ever seen such clear, unequivocal, absolute faith and confidence in calling on the name of the Lord?   It is really rare.  St. Paul and St. Peter will do some healing along these lines in the Book of Acts, but for nearly everyone else, this kind of faith is simply beyond us.  There always remains an element of the old Adam which hesitates or doubts.

          The power of God expressed through Jesus in his faith in his Father is just not normally part of our tool kit.  Jesus is Lord, it's his faith that saves.  His faith, unwavering, no hesitation, no doubts, no distractions, fully confident in the power of his Almighty Father.  Fortunately, it is that very faith which he shares with us and makes us his own by doing so in baptism.  We still have our old Adam of unbelief and defiance hanging around our necks, but his faith is at work in us to bring us to full salvation when he raises us on the last day.  The faith and trust we have now are a down-payment, a deposit on the guarantee of our inheritance.  So we pray, and when we pray we always add "Thy will be done," because it is his faith we rely on.  This side of eternity, our cry will always be "I believe, help my unbelief." As we have heard previously, that is sufficient.  "My grace is sufficient for you." In the flesh we remain totally dependent on the faith of Jesus and his power;  but just imagine what it will be like when we can order a mountain into the sea.   

That day is coming.

          Remember Whose you are,

              Pastor Lou