Which Comes First, the Miracle or the Faith?

This is a play on the classic question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” In that classic question, most claim there is no right answer. I won’t go into a debate of that one. But to the question, “Which comes first, the miracle of the faith?” there is a proper response. That answer is faith.

When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, “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. I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.”

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.” And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?”

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.
– Matthew 17:14-20, NASB

The disciples were not able to cast out the demon because their faith was weak. They had little faith. They were looking at the situation the wrong way. Notice the question they ask of Jesus, “Why could we not drive it out?” That gives a huge glimpse into the problem right there. They were relying on their own ability and expecting a miracle. Likely then they would have said, “Praise God! He has driven out the demon.” But that’s not how it went down. And notice that their question wasn’t, “Why didn’t the Father cast out this demon?” That would have revealed not a lack of faith, but a lack of response by God Himself. But that’s not what they asked. And Jesus’ response is measured and right on the nose, “Because of the littleness of your faith.” The problem wasn’t a God uninterested in responding. The problem was they weren’t willing to act on faith. Like the disciples, some people have to have the miracle as a basis for belief. Or at least, that’s their claim. But basically what they’re saying is they aren’t going to believe unless you prove them wrong by providing a miracle. They start with the premise that there is no God. Such skepticism, at initial glance, sounds reasonable. But is it really?

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. – Romans 1:18-25, NASB

The short answer is no. God has provided enough evidence to demonstrate there is more to life than just us. Therefore, God is inviting all of us to seek after Him, to find out what that more is. He has opened the door for us to come find Him. So the skeptic’s attitude doesn’t hold water according to Scripture (of course, the skeptic would respond back that nothing tells him or her that Scripture is authoritative and absolute truth). God expects us to act on our faith that there is more and come looking for Him. As Christians, we may not be like the skeptic with regards to having to see the miracle before acting on faith. At least, in not such a straight forward manner. But the question is, “Do we really believe in His mercy, judgment, and wisdom?” Does our faith truly rest in that? Or are we looking for our prayers to be answered in the way we desire in order for our faith to be” justified” and “increased?” God says He wants us to have faith first. He wants us to act on that faith. He wants us to step out on that faith first. If a miracle is needed, He will provide it. We just need to trust Him, follow Him lead, and execute on our faith. He will take care of the rest. Faith first. Then the miracle (if necessary). Are we willing to take that first step?

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One response to “Which Comes First, the Miracle or the Faith?

  1. Joe

    Excellent devotional!

    I’m reminded of another passage, Matthew 13:58. “And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.” (NASB). Some versions translate “unbelief” as “lack of faith”.