Faith is something that spans the entire Bible — from Adam lacking it in Genesis to John crying out for Jesus in Revelation, faith is absolutely essential.
But what does Jesus mean when He says we can move mountains? Is He talking about literal mountains throwing themselves into the sea? And if Jesus isn’t talking about actual mountains moving, what is He trying to tell us?
Is Jesus describing literal mountains?
Let’s back up a little bit here. It’s a few days before Passover and Jesus had just entered Jerusalem on a donkey. The people were in the streets laying leafy branches and their cloaks on the road to welcome Him and shouting:
“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
This is Jesus’ triumphal entry as though He’s being coronated as a king. It’s a big deal and His disciples knew it was a big deal, so they were extra aware of the things Jesus was doing and saying. And the next day Jesus curses a fig tree, fights some money-changers in the temple, and then brings them all back to the fig tree.
At this point, the fig tree is cursed. Dead. Withered. It’s at this moment Peter notices it and is astonished. In reply, Jesus says:
“Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.”
If the disciples were asking about mountains and Jesus said this, I know I’d be confused. But they don’t. Jesus is using an illustration to communicate a deeper truth. Jesus is teaching that awesome things happen if we have faith. Instead of asking “why hasn’t anyone’s faith moved a mountain yet?” ask “what kinds of things can I expect?” and I think you’ll be on the right track.
So then what does Jesus mean?
If we look at what Jesus says right after he talks about moving mountains, this question starts to answer itself:
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
These are the mountains that will throw themselves into the sea. Jesus isn’t talking about larger-than-life geological formations, He’s talking about the ability to love and forgive and receive forgiveness and talk to the Father in heaven.
And when you think about it, isn’t long-standing anger an even more impressive thing to be thrown into the ocean than a mountain? We can talk to God and He acts alongside us!
What does this mean for us today?
Faith isn’t abstract. It makes a tangible, concrete difference in our lives.
For the apostles, faith healed the lame and helped the blind to see. For Paul, faith exorcised demons from oppressed men, women, and children. And for us, it means reconciliation — not just to each other but to the God of the universe.
But there is one more thing we must keep in mind: Jesus doesn’t accidentally start this whole lesson off by asking us to have faith in God. It is essential. Faith that moves the mountains in our lives must be based on God — who He is, what He cares about, and what He’s promised us. We can’t simply have faith we’ll receive a new car or a bag of money and expect to get it.
And here’s another thing Jesus doesn’t do on accident: He includes an example at the end of what those mountains look like…
Because climbing one of those on our own is probably tougher than Everest.
Sign up below & we can send it to you directly!