“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20, NIV
Jesus used the mustard seed in two ways in His teachings. One was to describe the Kingdom of God and one was to describe faith. But I think that two are related; it was not a coincidence that He used the mustard seed to describe both..
When Jesus began His ministry the country was pregnant with an expectation of some sort of apocalyptic initiation of a new Kingdom and the promised Messiah. They had their idea, based upon their loose interpretation of the prophets, as to what the Kingdom of God would be. (The spiritual sense of anticipation might have been quite similar to what we’re seeing today regarding the second coming of Christ.) But the point today is that Jesus’ parables shattered most of those ideas. The use of a mustard seed was a prime example. What we’re hearing about the end of times and Christ’s second coming might similarly off a bit. Quite often, the most religious of folks, and the most dedicated scholars, miss important points of scripture or the proper interpretation.
In Jesus time it was widely assumed that the new Kingdom would be a powerful and glorious one, full of wonders, pomp and power…a new Kingdom on earth. It would be a military and political challenge to the Roman Empire. But Jesus countered and said, “No, it is more like a mustard seed.” And most folks did not like His analogy.
When you think about a mustard seed and hold it in your hands, you realize that a mustard seed is not very impressive. But neither are small children when you think about them as being the proper candidates for citizens in God’s Kingdom. Yet that’s what Jesus said about children. Mustard seeds and little children, are very tiny and insignificant compared to grown ups and some other glorious ideas about the Kingdom or great acts of faith.
Mustard seed was a common agricultural product that grew quite easily and prolifically. The variety of mustard Jesus was talking about is about the same seed we use today. Tiny and on the outside not appearing to have much value. Jesus talked about it becoming a tree, but as you know, it’s really a large bush. Compared to other herbs in the garden it might be a tree, but the point is that the appearance and significance of the seed and the actual bush/tree compared to other herbs is hard to imagine—-mustard plants do not look at all like the others herbs. Spiritual things are like that—they’re not what we expect. I love this about our Heavenly Father!
But once this seed of faith takes root in the ground it become a haven for birds (see Daniel 4:10-12 and Ezekiel 31:6, NIV). This tree becomes a link between heaven and earth, and it was a house for every bird. That’s what faith creates. Has faith been planted in your life? Has your faith become a haven for others? Your faith might because the hope for one who lacks faith.
When the disciples failed to expel the demon from the boy, here’s what Jesus said: “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” ~Matthew 17:20-21, NIV. Is Jesus a liar? Then why don’t we trust Him and stop our complaining?
Think of those words….faith as small as a mustard seed… that’s pretty small. In measurements, the rabbis called the smallest possible quantity 'the quantity of a grain of mustard”, so Jesus was trying to make a point about how small the seed it. This parable and point about faith contrasts the very small size of a seed with the tremendous results it produces. To be more precise, it is about the size of the head of a straight pin…. Jesus says that if we have even that little amount of faith there is nothing we cannot do. So why, then, aren’t we doing more? And why do so many of us feel God isn’t working in our lives the way we want Him to? God can take your small amount of faith and move mountains and change the world.
You might think that you cant’t do much with your skills and attributes, but it takes just a bit of faith to change everything….your and my limitations gives God all the glory! Do you have faith or are you making excuses because your faith isn’t big enough yet? Good grief, you can’t get much smaller than the point of a pin! But if you will take the little faith you have and give Him the obedience and submission He requires from you, you’ll shake the gates of hell!
The problem is that many of us confuse our ambitions with faith in God. We trust in our own wits, education and connections to get things done, rather than meekly admitting to God we need His power. If He sends just a microbe of His power it more than overcomes and transcends all the strength and wisdom, all the schemes and plans, we could ever devis in a lifetime. To walk in faith is to walk in humility. He can do these things—-if we trust in Him to accomplish it.
But here are examples of what goes wrong when faith is missing:
Again, in the gospel of Mark, Christ’s disciples tried to release a boy from the torment of demons, but they could not. Why? Evidently they saw Jesus expel demons and assumed they quite easily could also. So they simply “did” what He did—-they demanded that the demons leave the boy. But the demons ignored them. The disciples couldn’t do it because of a lack of faith. But when Jesus asked the boy’s father if he believed, he said, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). The word unbelief actually means, “mistrust”. Jesus first healed the man’s mistrust and then the boy was healed. When I attempt to do things for His Kingdom I must make no mistake: I am no match for the Prince of Darkness—-but Jesus is. I don’t have the power or understanding to come against what Satan throws against me! No matter now noble my cause or how worthy my efforts, unless I am acting on faith that He can do it through me, I will fail.
When the dad asks Jesus to help his unbelief, he isn’t saying he doesn’t believe, he is asking Jesus to give him more faith. He knew Jesus could give it, but he needed faith to believe He would. Ask Jesus today to heal you if you have mistrust in Him.
So let’s put this into perspective. Much of our broken hearts, lack of sleep, and person angst is the result of things not working out like we hope they would. We wring our hands, we moan, we whine, we try to fix broken relationships, find satisfaction in our lives, make things happen at our church like we think they should…we even work to heal our nations. Our children and youth want to find a way to stop being laughed at in school, or how to make the football team, pass the test and earn the trust of their parents. We all become desperate when things don’t go our way——and then have the effrontery to blame God!
Faith is not being certain of what you can see or what you have already experienced, nor a confidence in what we can bring about on our own efforts. Faith is trusting to God what you cannot see, have not yet experienced and are impotent to bring about. Do you have faith? Do you trust God? Let go of your fears and trust in Him!
The abundant life is not one of “hoping” or crossing our fingers, or a matter of making ourselves sick as we worry about what if our faith is too small. It is knowing for certain that He will do as He has promised even if our faith is as small as a flea. It is knowing Him having total trust that He cannot disappoint!
A seed has within it the blueprints for something fantastic—-that’s what faith in God is! Trusting God is an exercise in faith that serves as the spiritual blueprint essential for an incredible, fabulously abundant life! Faith releases the greatest promise in the entire universe—-the ability to please God! Without faith, it is impossible to please Him, but with faith a germination….and emerging new life…. is possible that transcends the old life and puts us on top of the ground—-not under it!
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Things hoped for (Hebrews 6:19). Hope in the Bible is illustrated with and anchor. It is said to be steadfast and sure.
Faith is not only the conduit that brings us to salvation, it is also faith that enables us to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit to do the things that please the Lord. It leads to spiritual , mental and physical healing:“When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” (Mark 2:5)
Lacking faith not only disappoints our Father, it leads to a loss of health, fellowship, relationships and His blessings. “And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.” (Numbers 20:12). Don’t miss out! Choose to let go and put your trust in Him.
Let me close by reminding you again of this: “Faith is not some weak and pitiful emotion, but is strong and vigorous confidence built on the fact that God is holy love—-He will not let us down. And even though you cannot see Him right now and cannot understand what He is doing, you can know Him and be at peace. Faith is the supreme effort of your life- throwing yourself with abandon and total confidence upon God.” Oswald Chambers.
Do you have faith as tiny as a mustard seed?
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