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Matthew 17:14-21

Mountain Moving Faith

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Weekend Messages
  • March 24, 2019

Life is filled with peaks and valleys. Spiritually speaking, Mount Everest revivals are often followed by Death Valley battles. This is a scheme of the enemy. It’s critical for us to understand the devil’s schemes so that we are not caught off guard. We will discover from Matthew 17:14-21 the keys to having a faith that is alive and growing, a faith that moves mountains when there is spiritual warfare!

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Mountain Moving Faith

Matthew 17:14-21


1.Have you ever had a mountaintop experience with the Lord that was so refreshing you honestly felt like nothing would ever bring you back down to earth?

2.Was your mountaintop experience immediately followed by the crushing impact of being cast down to earth because of spiritual warfare?

ILLUS – Alarming news after a men’s retreat

3.Life is filled with peaks and valleys. Spiritually speaking, Mount Everest revivals are often followed by Death Valley battles.

4.This is a scheme of the enemy. Satan seeks to “steal and kill and destroy”. (John 10:10).

5.It’s critical for us to understand the devil’s schemes so that we are not caught off guard by Death Valley battles.

6.Tonight, we will discover from Matthew 17:14-21 the keys to having a faith that is alive and growing, a faith that moves mountains when there is spiritual warfare!

Matthew 17:14-21


1.At this point in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus was approximately six months away from going to Jerusalem, where He would “suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.” (16:21)

2.In light of this, Jesus told His disciples about what would happen in order to prepare them.

3.But Peter didn’t approve of Jesus’ warning, so he rebuked Him and said, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” (16:22)

4.Jesus didn’t entertain Peter’s words for a moment. In fact, as soon as the words left Peter’s mouth, Jesus turned His back to Peter, and rebuked him with the strongest possible rebuke, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (16:23)

5.Then Jesus called His disciples to Himself and shared what it means to be His disciple, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (16:24)

6. Jesus concluded by promising, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (16:28)

7. According to Matthew 17:1, Peter, James, and John only waited six days for the fulfillment of Jesus’ words.

8.Jesus took Peter, James, and John to the majestic Mount Hermon and “was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.” (17:2)

9.Moses and Elijah also appeared with Jesus and they discussed the work that Jesus would accomplish through His death in Jerusalem. (Luke 9:31)

10.As they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.” (17:9)

Transition – Imagine how Peter, James, and John must have felt after the Transfiguration.

  • The glory of Jesus unveiled, a sneak preview of what is to come when the King of glory returns to establish His glorious kingdom!
  • But their joy was quickly dampened when, to put it nicely, they saw a problem in the valley below!
  • They went from the glory of heaven to the attacks of hell!

I.   Let Jesus be the Lord of Your Valleys (14-18)

  • Satan didn’t waste time in bringing Peter, James, and John back to earth for the “next day” they were met with spiritual warfare. (Luke 9:37)
  • Mark’s Gospel states that the nine apostles who were left behind were surrounded by a large crowd and “some scribes” were “arguing with them”. (Mark 9:14)
  • Jesus came up to the disciples and asked, “What are you discussing with them?” (Mark 9:16)
  • Suddenly, a desperate father ran up to Jesus, fell on his knees before Him and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.” (17:14-15) 
  • Mark and Luke gave us additional insight into the boy’s condition for the demon had made the boy mute, foam at the mouth, grind his teeth, scream, convulse, and maul himself. It was life or death for the boy. (Mark 9:17-18; Luke 9:39)
  • The nine apostles tried to cast out the demon but, to their embarrassment, couldn’t. (17:16)
  • Some scribes saw a window of opportunity and challenged the apostles for their failure to deliver this man’s only son from a demon that had tormented him since childhood. (Mark 9:14, 21)

Transition – What went wrong? Why did the enemy win that battle? Why did this mountain of an obstacle remain? 

A. Build your life on Christ’s promises

1.Jesus’ reply was a strong rebuke, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” (17:17)

2.Jesus identified the reason for the defeat. The nine had failed because of their lack of faith.

3.Remember, Jesus had given the twelve “authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness”. (10:1)

4. The word translated perverted means turned in the wrong direction.

APPL – Unbelief will cause a person to get off the path that God intended for them, the path of faith!

  • Unbelief will bring many wrong turns which always lead to dead-ends!
  • Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief because they had failed to remember Jesus’ promises, His commission, His authority, and His victory.
  • They needed to build their lives on Jesus’ Word!

Matthew 7:24-25, Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

APPL – Now, just to clarify, when it comes to faith, we must have the right “object” of our faith.

ILLUS – A pastor’s interpretation of Jesus’ rebuke of Peter when he began to sink while walking on water.

  • Faith is not believing in or relying on one’s self.
  • Faith is not having a positive attitude nor is it rooted in the power of positive thinking.
  • None of these approaches have anything to do with a biblical, Christ-centered faith.

Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

B.All things are possible with Jesus

1.In Mark’s Gospel, the focus shifted to the interaction between Jesus and the boy’s dad.

2.As the boy was being brought to Jesus, the demon saw the Lord and immediately threw the him down; he was rolling around and foaming at the mouth. (Mark 9:20)

APPL – Here again we see the ways of the enemy for he tried one last “throw” down, which is a Greek wrestling term.

  • Satan knows his days are numbered and that he is powerless against the King of glory.
  • But that doesn’t stop him from trying to get in one last punch, dig, insult, or accusation!

3.In desperation, the father cried out to Jesus again, saying, “But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” (Mark 9:22)

4.Jesus declared, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)

APPL – One thing is certain, apart from Jesus Christ we will not have spiritual victory. But through Jesus Christ the victory is certain!

James 4:7, Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

5.Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

APPL – Truly a heartfelt, transparent answer. One, I believe, many of us can relate to.  

  • He was overwhelmed and worn down by the constant battle for his son’s well-being.
  • He had faith but wanted more and was asking for help to have more faith.
  • But how does one get more faith?
  • Again, we must remember that faith is not a thing unto itself; nor is faith in faith itself.
  • Faith is a choice to trust in the One who is faithful.
  • Faith is a choice to rest in who Jesus is and all that we have in Jesus.

Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, once wrote his sister about this, saying,“Oh, my dear Sister, it is a wonderful thing to be really one with a risen and exalted Savior, to be a member of Christ! Can Christ be rich and I poor? Can your right hand be rich and your left poor?... The sweetest part, if one may speak of one part being sweeter than another, is the rest which full identification with Christ brings. I am no longer anxious about anything. His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me.”

6.The Apostle Paul wrote some powerful spiritual truths which are very similar.

Ephesians 1:3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ

Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

II.    Our God is a Mountain Mover (19-21)

  • After Jesus rebuked the demon, the boy was immediately delivered. (18)
  • Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and asked, “Why could we not drive it out?” (19)
  • Jesus gave an answer which has become famous because it is filled with insight about faith.

A.  Don’t shrink back in unbelief

1.Jesus said the reason they were not able to cast out the demon was due to the “littleness” of their faith. (20)

2.The disciples saw the power the demon had over the boy and were overwhelmed. They focused on the severity of the problem and not on the infinite power of the Lord.

3.Remember in Matthew 10:1, Jesus had given the twelve apostles authority to cast out demons before He sent them out to declare the coming of the kingdom of heaven.

4.But they had forgotten the Words of their Savior, the authority of their Savior, and the victory guaranteed by their Savior!

APPL – They had been left alone for a short time while Jesus was on the mountain with Peter, James, and John. While Jesus was away, their faith had shrunk!

  • When we focus on the overwhelming odds or the mountain-sized obstacles, our faith will shrink due to unbelief!
  • But our God can defeat the worst of odds!

Romans 8:31, If God is for us, who is against us?

  • And our God can bring down any mountain!

Psalm 97:5, The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord

5.How little was their faith? Less than a mustard seed! Jesus said, “for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” (20)

a.Though small, the mustard seed is alive!

b.If the seed is alive, then it can grow!

c.And God will take you where you are at and strengthen your faith.

Isaiah 42:3, A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish

d.The Key: Don’t shrink back. Trust Jesus!

Hebrews 10:38-39, But My righteous one shall live by faith;
and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.

But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

6.Now many people have misunderstood the remainder of Jesus’ words in verse 20. What is the issue? People have twisted Christ’s words because they want control or power for their own personal, selfish ends.

James 4:2-3, You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

APPL – We must remember, that it is only those who are under Christ’s authority who are given authority.

Matthew 28:18, 20, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

  • If it is God’s will, you will have what you ask for.

1 John 5:14, This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

  • If not, that mountain isn’t going anywhere!

B. Put on the full armor of God 

1.Jesus said in verse 21 that “this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

2.The interesting thing is that Jesus did not pray here, so He wasn’t referring to immediately entering into a time of prayer and fasting.

3.Rather, Jesus was referring to a life of prayer and fasting that a person has in preparation of spiritual victory.

4.Jesus taught that prayer and fasting is not something we do to be noticed by others.

5.Prayer and fasting is drawing near to God so that we may come away from the world.

APPL – Spiritual warfare is real. Prayer and fasting is a way to prepare us for the battles that will come our way.

Ephesians 6:10-12, 18,Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places... With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints


APPL – What mountain are you facing? That obstacle, that battle is an opportunity for faith. It can either…

  • Be a stepping stone or a stumbling stone.
  • Make you stronger or weaker.
  • Make you better or bitter.
  • Will you trust the Lord to move your mountains?

Psalm 121:1-2, I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth. 

Matthew 17:14-21    NASB

14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, 15“Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.”18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.
19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” 20 And He *said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.21 [But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”]

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