Faith is an interesting word. It describes all the major religions. We call them different “faiths.” Some talk about putting their “faith” in a new leader to bring about change. Some say “trust the process” when it’s taking time to fulfill a promise. For many, faith involves the spiritual.
Yet those who emphasize the material or science alone or atheism may conclude faith as irrelevant. They may also conclude that people of faith are more like people of superstition or magic. One of Jesus’ sayings seems to strengthen this claim.
“The apostles said to the Lord. ‘Increase our faith!’ And the Lord said, ‘If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you.’” Luke 17:5-6.
This seems a bit weird to me at first. Why would anyone want to uproot a tree and plant it in the sea? It seems more like a magical trick that one would perform to get people to ooh and awe. So it at first seems like Jesus has answered a different question – “Lord teach us some magic tricks!”
Yet closer examination reveals the depth of Jesus’ answer. The disciples specifically request an increase in their faith. They want a greater measure of faith than they current have. Lesser or greater faith is a valid concern. At other times, Jesus does rebuke the disciples by saying “O you of little faith!”
However, it seems here that Jesus is pointing out some different points. He first talks about faith “like a grain of a mustard seed.” That’s a very small seed. Yet Jesus says faith so small could lead to this incredible transfer of the tree to the sea. So instead of emphasizing the size of their faith, I think He’s pointing to the power of the one they put their faith in. God can respond to faith like a grain of a mustard seed and do remarkable things.
And I don’t think the mulberry tree image is all about doing something spectacular just for show. There must have been mulberry tree nearby standing with all its strength. There were likely leaves and fruit on the tree with many branches. Yet faith the size of a grain of a mustard seed could see God work to uproot the mulberry tree and replant it in the sea. A grain of a mustard seed uproots a mature mulberry tree. That’s the contrast.
So Jesus is actually saying that a very small faith in a very great God can see great results. In this instance, He wants to redirect the disciple’s gaze away from focusing on the size of their faith to instead focus on the God.
What about us? I need this message because I have a tendency towards impatience. I think that if God doesn’t respond to my prayer say by the end of the day, I might as well do it myself. But think about how that diminishes my faith. The more I believe that, the less I will pray and trust God with stuff.
Yet other times, we may conclude there is no hope. There is no way out. There is no solution; no rescue; no alternative. All is lost. Yet even the smallest faith attached to the great God can bring great changes.
I don’t know what message you might need to hear about your faith today – “O you of little faith with a tendency to think the worst will happen;” “O you of impatient faith who think you can solve everything yourself;” “O you of “barely having a pulse” faith that has given up hope;” put your faith in God and trust Him to do what’s best for your situation.
Note: I will be off for a few days. So my posts will return on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.