In the 17th chapter of Luke’s Gospel Jesus gives his disciples some relational instructions. Basically he is telling them to forgive one another, and to place no limits on their willingness to do that. It is a hard message for them to hear (as it is for us, if we’re actually listening to it and considering it’s consequences). So they basically push back: They say,
“Increase our faith.”
Which sounds nice, it seems like a pious request but actually it isn’t; this is basically a statement of unwillingness, based on a presumed lack of ability…basically they are saying we can’t do that, we don’t have the ability to do that, we need more help. This is like when you tell your kids to do something and instead of even trying they cry “We can’t.” By which they really mean, we don’t want to.
So that is what the disciples are saying in this scene and that request brings this rebuke from Jesus:
“If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed,
you can say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea’ and it will obey you.”
What is he talking about? He’s basically talking about your perspective when it comes to faith.
What is faith anyway? Well, elsewhere the Bible tells us:
Faith is being sure of what we hope for
and certain of what we do not see.
And then, if you continue reading this passage from the Book of Hebrews, the Bible simply enumerates people in who acted in faith:
– Noah built an ark as if there really was a flood
– Moses led the people to the Red Sea as if he really could part it
– David stood up to the giant as if he really would beat him
– Peter got out of the boat as if he really could walk on water
None of these are particularly remarkable or impossible things to do. They acted in faith in little ways, and the big things followed.
You see, when it comes to faith, it’s not the size, it’s the seed. We’re talking about
faith like a grain of mustard seed
A mustard seed is about the size of an eyelash, in other words, about the smallest measurable amount. It’s not the size that matters, it’s about the seed. Faith is planting your confidence in God by acting as if God is God, and when you do that, faith grows.