Q&A: What did Christ mean when he said “our faith can move mountains”?

I was recently asked this question on Quora.com. Here was my answer:


That is not what Jesus said.

Here is the actual scriptural verse which you are most likely referring to:

“And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Matthew 17:20

The Mustard Seed:

The first part that we must analyze is why Jesus used a mustard seed as the central example of faith in this passage.

Jesus actually answers this question himself if we look at a different Bible Passage in Matthew:

“…The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.” Matthew 13:31-32

So in summary, a mustard seed starts out as one of the tiniest seeds but can grow to become a tall tree.

Looking at a mustard seed for the first time, one would never expect something like that to occur and would probably call it nothing short of a miracle.


So this takes us to the key concept in Jesus’ teaching: Faith.

Faith is the central part of the equation. If you wish a mountain to be thrown into the sea, there are several requirements which Jesus lists:

…but first we must look at a parallel Bible verse in Mark, in which Jesus breaks down these requirements:

“…And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:22-24

The Fig Tree:

To put this verse into context, we must back up for a second and look several verses prior (See Mark 11:12–20). What was happening in this Bible verse is that Jesus and his disciples were passing by a fig tree that they had seen the day before. When Jesus and his apostles had first come by this fig tree, they were hungry but the tree did not have any figs on it to eat…therefore, Jesus rebuked the fig tree. One day later, when they had returned to the same site, the Fig tree was withered and dead.

Peter was astonished that this had happened and asked Jesus how he did it.

Jesus then explained to Peter and his apostles (and therefore all of us as well) that if we ask God for something we need and have complete Faith that he will do it for us, then it will be done.

Putting it all together:

So in conclusion, the premise of the question was wrong. Jesus did not say that OUR Faith could move mountains. Jesus said that if we had a complete and impenetrable Faith in God the Father, then HE would move the mountain for us if we asked.

Our Faith alone is powerless.

God is the power behind our faith.

Our Faith in God, shows that we love him and trust him, and being the loving God that he is, he will provide for his people.

Would God really move a mountain for his Faithful?

Yes, absolutely.

God moves “mountains” for his people every day. There are all kinds of problems in the world that are resolved by nothing short of a miracle (AKA: God’s power). This whole world in fact is a miracle that was designed and instituted by God’s power.

However, God did not just mean that he would move mountains in a figurative sense.

God would literally uproot a mountain and throw it into the sea for his Faithful if they needed him to do it and had an impenetrable belief that he would.

However, let’s talk about this Faith that God requires first: Let’s look at the keywords: “and shall not doubt in his heart”.

What does that mean?

It means that our faith in God must be so strong that we don’t doubt for a second that the “impossible” is possible through God.

How many people have that strong of a Faith?

The truth is that not very many people possess that level of Faith.

Even some of the most die-hard “Christians” often reserve doubts in their hearts that God will indeed create miracles that big.

This is why nobody’s Faith has successfully been able to uproot a mountain and throw it into the sea…yet.

However, God has parted the sea for some people that had just as strong a Faith as it would take (AKA: Moses). So maybe God hasn’t uprooted a mountain yet, but he has parted the sea, made water flow from a rock, and saved someone and their family from a global flood (along with 2 of every species of animal on Earth).

The True Faithful would never ask for something they didn’t need:

The truth is that the people in this world that have a strong enough Faith in God to have a mountain uprooted for them and thrown into the sea would never ask for such a thing to begin with.

Instead these faithful followers of God ask for things that benefit others and help them to serve God better.

These people don’t have any need to test God’s power because they already know that he is powerful and these people have no reason to witness miracles in order to strengthen their belief because their belief in him is already complete.

Therefore, it is the people with the weak faith that would need to witness a mountain being thrown into the sea in order to believe, however, the irony is that their faith isn’t solid enough for God to do it for them.

There are miracles everywhere and God creates miracles in everybody’s life every day. God has already moved “mountains” in your life to help you and will continue to do so (especially the more you believe in him and trust in him).

That is the true miracle.

Develop a strong Faith in God by looking at EVERYTHING he does…and then uprooting a mountain so that it could be thrown into the ocean doesn’t seem so important anymore.

God Bless.