When reading Jesus’ words in Mark 11:22-24, I have never known whether the mountain he mentions is symbolic or real. The Bible simply says, “‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.'”
If Jesus didn’t mean a real live mountain, then the symbol of the mountain could be anything from a mountain of problems to a mountain of debt. The mountain could symbolize any big problem that we face and that we feel we can’t budge.
I have heard some teach that the mountain symbolizes the Law of God, and that He’s really teaching that we can have forgiveness by faith. And when we read Mark 11:25, I can see how that might be one way to interpret this verse. I just wonder why He gives us such a big promise as, “Whatever you ask for in prayer,” if all He really meant was forgiveness.
But if Jesus was talking about a real mountain, it could mean that we have the power to change the physical universe, and that our faith and our prayers are far more powerful than we have ever imagined. It would mean that we could go far beyond just changing our situation, because we can literally change the world.
For the moment, let’s just forget the mountain. What difference does it really make if He meant a symbolic, or a real, mountain?
What does it mean to us that Jesus said, “if anyone…does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him?”
The first thing it means to me is that I have a very small, limited picture of what faith is able to do. It means that I need to open my eyes to just how big and powerful God is, and that I need to constantly remind myself, “With God, all things are possible.”
The second thing it tells me is that my problem isn’t a lack of faith; it’s an abundance of doubts. Those doubts can come from being unclear about what we want and extend to being unclear about God’s love and power. If I doubt God’s love for me, my faith will suffer.
Finally what these verses tell me is that my faith needs to be in God, and not in my faith. It’s not about what I believe in, but who I believe in. When I believe in God, all things will be possible because He is the one that makes them possible.