Have you ever heard the saying “all you need is faith the size of a mustard seed” or “all you need is a little bit of faith”? The saying is true, faith can move mountains. So why aren’t we moving mountains? Are we missing faith or are we missing the point of faith? Let’s dive into what the bible has to say about the mustard seed, faith, and the kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 17: 20
And Jesus said unto them, “Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
You would think Jesus is speaking to some nonbelievers, to people who didn’t know His power and authority. But no, Jesus is speaking to His disciples! They know Jesus. Surely, they have faith, right? To give some context, here is the scene: A man has brought his son to Jesus’ disciples to be exercised of a demon. But when they couldn’t the man went to Jesus and basically snitched on them. Imagine if people still could do that…snitch to Jesus when we aren’t living up to expectation as disciples. Then we’d have to face Him in person, in the flesh…talk about pressure. Here is Jesus’ reply:
Matthew 17: 18-21
Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
(I completely just rewrote this next section after clarity from God)
Small to God is not small to a new disciple, even the ones closest to Jesus needed more. But it is in fact small. Let me explain. I must confess that this is a new revelation to me. What I'm about to write really shook me. Jesus really called out His disciples for having little to no faith. He basically said if you just had a little you could move mountains. Two things are realized with Jesus's stated... faith is enormously powerful and we often think we have more than we do. What seems like a lot to us isn't even on the scale for God. Have you ever sat down in a chair without looking. We trust the chair is there. Do we have more faith in chairs than God. Do I have faith of at least a mustard seed? No. I don't. Not right now. And moving mountain seems unfathomable. And it is...without faith.
I think we need to be honest in assessing our level of faith in this moment. Not how much do you believe that Jesus loves you or that He saved us...But how much faith do you have? Could we say to a mountain move and it moves? There is so much more faith out there. So what are we going to do about this? Well the last verse gives some direction...By prayer and fasting we can grow our faith. And Jesus wants us to have more faith not just a little faith. But it starts with removing all arrogance and shame. Really asses and ask Jesus how much faith do I have? Is it enough for what you have for me?
I believe it is not random nor just an artifact of what was familiar to bring up a mustard seed in this conversation. Jesus had just finished giving the analogy of the mustard seed and the Kingdom of God in chapter Matthew 13. Here is a breakdown of the chapter (but you should also read it):
Matthew 13: 1-9 Crowd gathered while Jesus was chilling
Matthew 13: 10-17 Jesus: Ok here is a parable and why I speak in parables. Why? So we know the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 13: 18 – 33 Several parables about the kingdom of heaven. The most famous one being the mustard seed.
Matthew 13: 34-35 By this act of parable teaching the was prophecy was fulfilled and the crowd left
Matthew 13: 36-43 The disciples stay and then were like ok, but what did that mean. Jesus explained. (I really love how understanding and patient God is)
Matthew 13: 44-50 Jesus tells some more “kingdom of heaven” parables for just the disciples
Matthew 13: 51 – 54 Jesus - Do you understand? Good. Peace, I’m out to teach the rest of the church
Why did I just go through that? To convince you that the Kingdom of Heaven is important and important to understand. It is the foundation of His teachings. Does a small mustard seed really suffice to compare to the kingdom of heaven? No, but a planted mustard seed does. Notice the kingdom of heaven is like a planted mustard seed…the mustard plant (“tree”).
Matthew 13: 31 – 32
31 Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
The mustard seed grows to become a tree for the for the birds to rest upon. The Kingdom of heaven provides rest and peace. So how does this plant grow to be this great? It doesn’t do it alone. Before I get into the mustard plant, check out the very next parable:
Matthew 13: 33
33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
There is a certain aspect of action that defines faith and the Kingdom of Heaven. See notice Jesus said if you say to the mountain. The man planted a mustard seed in his field. The woman put the leaven in meal or dough. They placed what they had in a foundation, an environment, for it to grow and transform. Their action with what little they had transformed the environment. The environment became whole and welcoming. I see this as a call to action.
Side Sermon: The man had a field...the woman had dough...See you have to have something to put Faith into. Faith is the substance of things hoped for...you can't have Faith and have nothing to hope for...let me stop. That's a whole different topic.
How does this relate the mustard plant? Both parables actually describe the act of uniting into one.
Many theologians believe that the black mustard seed is the mustard seed Jesus preached. The black mustard plant or Brassica nigra is described as an evasive plant that takes over the area it is planted. It’s natural spread has been known as a super bloom. Check out pictures from Israel here.
One seed can cause an overwhelming outbreak completely changing the landscape into a sea of mustard plants. These plants then intertwine and form strong thickets. These plants can grow as high as 10- 15 feet (like a tree) and are home to many birds. Like the leaven put in an environment conducive to transformation, the mustard seed when planted in a field creates a chain reaction of rapid contagious growth and unity.
The black mustard seed is compared to faith. When planted, faith grows and produces more seeds of faith that fall around it. More plants grow and grab hold of each other, and strengthen each other to form a strong, rapidly growing, ecosystem. The kingdom of heaven is planted faith, growing faith, shared faith, united faith.
So, is all you need really faith the size of a mustard seed or just a little bit of faith? Yes and no. We need to change the way we measure our faith. We need to seek growth in faith and not settle for little. And most importantly we need to plant our faith. The moment you speak to that mountain in faith you have planted your faith and change begins to happen. Jesus chose to use the mustard seed in his parables because of its potential not just size. Expand and transform your faith and your environment. Speak, share, and act upon your faith!
This is why I start Black Mustard Seed (BMS) Brand. BMS seeks to spread seeds and help others sow seeds through creative and bold designs. BMS is committed to sharing the word of God. I want to increase my faith by fasting and meditating on His word so I may be a great witness and encourage others to be strong in the Lord.
BMS Move Mountains Christian T-shirt
Let’s raise up a kingdom of mountain movers!
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