Unlike the gospel of John, the other three gospels are
synoptic. The synoptic Scriptures are devoted primarily to
sharing the same majestic accounts of the life and ministry
of Christ from the three personal views of the Spirit
inspired gospel writers.
All three of the synoptic writers provide us with profound
accounts of the father who came to Jesus complaining that
the disciples could not cast out the cruel demon from his
son. We will focus on the accounts of Matthew and
The context of Matthew 17:14-21 and Mark 9:14-29
is one of extreme contrast. Peter, James, and John had been
chosen to join Christ on the “mount of transfiguration”.
When they came down from the mount filled with confident joy
given the splendor of this encounter with the Father and the
reality of Christ’s transfigured majesty, they are greeted
with stark unbelief.
The remaining nine disciples had tried to cast out the
demon. But they were unable to do so. They failed
miserably even though previously they had cast out many
demons. These disciples had been commissioned and empowered
recently by Christ for this very thing. Complicating
things, not only was the father grieved at the disciples’
inability, but the religious leaders of Israel capitalized
on this opportunity to ridicule Jesus’ disciples in front of
the crowd. The nine must have been greatly discouraged!
Upon His arrival, Christ quickly asks why an argument was
ongoing between His own disciples and Israel’s religious
rulers. When the father gives his sad report that the
disciples were unable to remove the demon from the son,
whose condition was indeed awful, Christ takes control. The
father states that he believes Jesus can heal his son, but
humbly asks Jesus to strengthen his own unbelief. Jesus
responds by powerfully casting out this malicious demon, and
releasing the son from a lifetime of cruel anguish.
Of course the nine are bewildered. Once alone with Jesus,
they quickly ask Him why they could not cast out the demon.
In Jesus’ response, we see one of the amazing dynamics of
synoptic accounts. Matthew states that it is because
the faith of the nine was too small. But Mark
records it was because the nine did not rely on prayer.
In Matthew, our Lord then gives them a lesson to
build up their little faith – the parable of the mustard
seed. Even though it is so very small, the mustard seed
gradually grows into a bush so large that it is
“tree-like”. So is “mountain moving faith”! It may start
small, but this faith increases. It becomes big and
“Mountain moving” was a metaphor for overcoming seemingly
insurmountable obstacles. Such was the barrier for the
disciples. Only divine omnipotence could cast out a
supernatural power of darkness. By God’s grace, our faith
can grow so huge that we are able to watch God remove those
“mountains” in our life. These are the “mountains”
hindering His will for us individually and as a Church
On the other hand, Mark gives a different account.
He records another aspect of Jesus’ answer to the disciples’
question. They were not able to remove the demon, Mark
states, because of their lack of prayer. The disciples
relied on their past success. They had been able to remove
demons. Of course, they were able to do so only because of
God’s omnipotence. In self-reliance, the nine dared to
enter spiritual warfare without pleading with God to unleash
the same power they experienced previously. Only God can
cast out a supernatural demon!
So what is the point? “Mountain” moving faith and prayer
are essentially the same thing. They go hand-in-hand. The
two cannot be separated. The power of prayer is faith. The
dynamic of faith is prayer. A person’s faith is measured by
his reliance on God demonstrated in the quality of His
A believer’s power in prayer is dependent upon his faith in
God’s power to accomplish what He alone can do.
Application for our Church family:
Confess unbelief, and ask God to grow your faith/prayer
In your prayer requests, aim for that which God alone
Focus on the direction for CCSYV – [this is the “year of
the Great Commission”].
your sights on the lost around you.
Ask God to increase your opportunities to care for them
and to share the gospel.
6. Identify the “mountain-like” obstacles barring their
7. Trust in God’s power to move these “mountains”.
you talk to them, perceive the “mountain” and
God’s greater power.
9. Share the gospel as God leads, with “mountain-moving”
faith fueled by prayer.
This is what is needed to
unleash the only power that saves the soul - God’s