“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
We all know that faith in Jesus is at the core of the Christian life. We “walk by faith and not by sight.” We would probably also admit that our faith isn’t always strong enough.
The disciples experienced that when a man brought his son who was demon possessed and asked them to drive it out. Sadly, they couldn’t. When alone with Jesus they asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” Carefully reread Mt. 17:20-21. They are told they had “so little faith.” Then Jesus talks about the faith the size of a mustard seed. Who hasn’t equated mustard seed faith with little, tiny or small faith? Nearly all commentaries do! This is a faulty assumption.
When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked. Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. Matthew 21:20-21 The context is parallel to Mt. 17. Both sayings come from a question the disciples don’t understand, both use hyperbole about faith moving mountains. Both end with a sweeping promise by Jesus. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe the teaching about faith is also parallel. The problem between little faith and mustard seed faith is the misunderstanding of what faith like a mustard seed is like.
We see the disciples unable to do what Jesus gave them authority to do, drive out demons. (Mark 6:1, 12-13). What did the disciples need? Faith that is the size of a mustard seed. Mustard seed faith is indeed greater than “little-faith”. The point of the parable is that while faith starts out rather small it is expected to grow into a large tree. Unfortunately, the disciples’ faith had not grown, and that is why they couldn’t carry out the exorcism.
How would you rate your faith? I’ll share two applications of this mustard seed faith next week.
Pr. Bob Snitzer
By the Way: Sunday 19, 9:00 Morning worship and reception of new members. Sermon: TALK ABOUT GREATNESS. Mark 9:30-37
10:15 Sunday school for all ages.
Tuesday 21, 2:00 WOL bible study.
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