Wednesday, 5 November 2014


I tend to think of Mark's gospel as being the one which rattles along at breakneck speed: first Jesus did this, immediately he did that... but chapter 17 in Matthew is also breathtaking.

The disciples have the supernatural experience of seeing Jesus completely changed in front of them, talking to people who had been dead for centuries; they even heard God's voice coming out of a glorious cloud of light.

Then Jesus tells them that his cousin John  is the Elijah who would foretell of the coming of the Messiah and starts to tell of the suffering and death he himself would endure.

Mix in an astounding healing where a boy "possessed by evil spirits" (evidently suffering from severe epilepsy) is completely healed, and then the extraordinary story of Jesus telling Peter to catch a fish which will have exactly the right amount of money in its mouth with which to pay the temple taxes and keep the authorities quiet.

And Jesus says: ' “What a generation! No sense of God! No focus to your lives! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here.” He ordered the afflicting demon out—and it was out, gone. From that moment on the boy was well.

When the disciples had Jesus off to themselves, they asked, “Why couldn’t we throw it out?”

“Because you’re not yet taking God seriously,” said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.” '

Faith. Faith the size of a poppy seed. This seems impossible: how can you quantify faith as something physical, tangible?


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