Matthew 17:20 – So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” NKJV
I’ve been reading everything I can find on the topic of mustard seed faith and I have listened to a lot of sermons on the subject, and I am amazed that so many theologians are stuck on the size of the mustard seed. I won’t pretend that I understand all of what Jesus said and meant, and I am still searching for answers, but I am absolutely certain that a small amount of faith doesn’t move mountains, trees, or Jesus!
If we look at the situation that causes Jesus to make this statement in Matthew and again in Luke, we can hopefully get some more understanding of what mustard seed faith might mean.
A man came to Jesus, knelt before Him and asked for mercy for his son who was epileptic. Now I don’t know if that catches your attention, but I have been a parent of a child who was diagnosed with abnormal seizure disorder, which from what I can tell, is epilepsy. As a two week old baby she was having involuntary shakes that led to the diagnosis. She was immediately put on phenobarbital and given an evil report of things only getting worst and of never having a normal life.
I can tell you right now that this man’s son was not in a good place. So he goes to Jesus’ disciples and they could not cure his son. But Jesus could and He did! Thank God for Jesus! Then the disciples asked, “Why could we not cast it out?” Jesus replied, “Because of your unbelief, for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you…”
I think that because Jesus first mentions that the disciples were in unbelief, many have come to think that a little bit of faith is all we need to move mountains. I believe this is a trick of the enemy to keep us from receiving the things that we desire when we pray, as he knows small faith doesn’t move the hand of God, it only disappoints the individual.
When we compare things in writing, we use similes or metaphors. As a matter of fact, in the YLT it states that Jesus is using a simile in Matthew 13, comparing the size of the kingdom of heaven to the size of a mustard seed. Let’s take a quick look at this passage:
Jesus mentions the mustard seed in only three conversations in the word of God. In Matthew 13:31 -“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” Here, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed. He talks about the mustard seed being sown into the land. He then makes the point that if you sow this seed, though it is the least (smallest) of all seeds, it will become a tree that birds of the air flock to. I do believe that in this instance Jesus is referring to the size of the seed. After all, the kingdom started with Him, then He included His disciples, and it has grown to billions of souls over the centuries. I get it!
Now in our key verse, faith is compared to a grain of mustard seed. This is also a simile, where we compare two things using the words “like” or “as”. A familiar simile would be, “I am as hungry as a bear.” My hunger is being compared to the hunger of a bear, not to the bear itself. I believe that faith is being compared to a grain of mustard, not in size, but in its productivity.
You see, when a grain of mustard is planted or sown, it produces a mustard plant and nothing else; so faith when it is sown should produce what it is sown for. In Matthew 17 Jesus was instructing the disciples to know that when demons manifest, sow faith to cast out demons.
In Luke 17:6, “So the Lord said, ‘If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea, and it would obey you.”‘ As I was typing, I heard in my spirit, “If your faith is as a mustard seed” meaning, if you have the same kind of faith that a mustard seed has you will say…Meaning that a mustard seed will produce a mustard plant, and when it is sown, it knows it will produce mustard and not apples. And if you have that kind of faith, the kind that knows what it is producing, you will be able to say to the mulberry tree…or even forgive seventy times seven.
After Jesus tells the disciples that faith as a mustard seed (this time He doesn’t say “grain”) will give them the ability to say to a mulberry tree to be uprooted, He goes on to talk about the role of a servant. He tells the disciples that a servant serves, even when he is tired and doesn’t receive thanks because it is his duty. I believe that Jesus is saying that faith has a responsibility to get done what we believe it will do, even if that means telling a mulberry tree to be uprooted or a mountain to be cast into a sea.
When the doctors gave us the evil report about our baby, we put faith to work. Six months later, our baby was off the phenobarbital and given a clean bill of health. She has gone on to graduate from law school and has authored and published several novels. And she has never had another seizure. The seed of God’s word was planted in our hearts and we sowed it for her complete healing, and that’s what we received!
What do you expect a mustard seed to produce? Mustard plants or trees! What should faith produce? The thing hoped for! Even today, I am still learning about faith. I can quote the scriptures and pull the books off the shelf, but I don’t always operate in mountain moving faith. But this blog has even opened my eyes to understanding faith in a different way. Faith, like a mustard seed, will produce what it is sown for: healing, finances, forgiveness, deliverance, a mate, a job…the possibilities are unlimited! Wonderful Jesus!