Have you ever seen a mustard seed? It’s an absolute speck!
What has this got to do with faith?
Quite a lot, actually. Or at least Jesus thought so….
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. (Luke 17:5-6 NASB)
The mustard seed also makes an appearance in Matthew’s Gospel. The nine disciples, who had not been with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, had tried to drive out a demon and failed.
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. (Matthew 17:19-20 NASB)
Wait a minute. There’s something we can easily miss here. Their faith was smaller than a mustard seed? Really? It must have been invisible!
Perhaps the mustard seed represents a living word from the Lord. And by obeying that “spoken” word, we are planting the seed.
Certainly the second part of the Luke passage bears that out.
“Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things you are commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’ ” (Luke 17:7-10 NASB)
This parable might seem a bit of a non-sequitur at first sight, but I believe it is a comment on the whole subject of faith.
You will notice that responding to the spoken instructions of the master is key.
Romans 10:17 again!
And Jesus modelled that for us, because He did only what He saw the Father doing and said only what He heard the Father saying. (John’s Gospel, passim)
If that was good enough for Him, it better be good enough for us!