If you have the faith of a mustard seed…
This passage gets us into trouble. What is it that we’re supposed to faith in? Imagine if people of faith just started moving mountains around at will. That seems silly, but we sometimes interpret this passage to mean that anyone who “believes in Jesus” has the power to “move mountains” and if you can’t, then its because you lack faith. If your marriage fails, if you struggle with depression, if you get sick or someone dies… its all because of lack of faith. The perfect life, living the American Dream, health and wealth, are not the measure of one’s faith.
Do you believe that Jesus has power over the evil forces of this world? Do you believe that Jesus has power over the natural forces of this world (gravity, wind, water viscosity, etc.)?
Do you believe in the Kingdom of God?
Maybe what Jesus is saying to these disciples is that if they truly believed that God’s Kingdom was being unleashed into the world and that they were the carriers of that kingdom, they would be able push out anything that does not belong. Or, maybe Jesus was recognizing the imperfection of human faith and the reality of life on earth, not in heaven. I wonder if Jesus thought His mission would be easier than it was.
Jesus predicts his death a second time and produces the money to pay the temple tax.
The temple was not supported by offerings, but by a tax. Jesus thought that didn’t seem right, but it was not the time to make an issue of it.
Have you noticed a shift in Jesus’s temperament? In the beginning of Matthew, He had compassion on the people, now there is more urgency to His mission and He seems to be growing impatient with them.