The Faith of a Mustard Seed
By: Mary E. Adams
And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith [belief] And the Lord said, If ye had faith [belief] as a grain of a mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be planted in the sea; and it should obey you. Luke 17:5-6
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:
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. Matthew 13:31-32
Take a look at the extremely small dot just above this sentence. Can you see it? When Jesus mentioned the mustard seed, he was referring to a small, black seed about this size, which is the kind that grows in Israel. Can you imagine it becoming a tree? One that would hold birds? Can you imagine that such a seed has faith to move Mt. Everest or uproot a tree and throw it into the sea?
What you are about to read was a revelation to me.....
There were many sermons I listened to that were supposed to enlighten me on this subject: that the parable of the mustard seed was talking about the church, which would grow from a small group to take over the world with Christianity. Mormons liked to think of it that way in regards to their religion. I also was taught that I did not need a lot of faith, just a speck would do. (But it was amazing how my "speck" never seemed sufficient....and nobody could tell me what to do with the speck!)
Almost all my early years I was taught to "just accept" things as they were, not be a bother to others, not chase after "rainbows" nor to keep on when told to be quiet...just accept things as they came with graciousness and without persistence. "Quit keeping on!" I was admonished when I wanted something. It was called "politeness" or "good manners".
Now politeness and good manners are certainly essential for us to adhere to...but when it comes to faith, I found out that a different set of rules apply. This might be totally upsetting to some, but I was to find that living the kind of faith-life Jesus taught us to live required a radical change to this kind of thinking...
In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, the disciples of Jesus wanted to know how to increase their faith. It was then the Lord taught His disciples about the Mustard Seed. I also desired to have my faith increase, yet when I heard Him say I could look at a mountain and tell it to be removed, what little I had evaporated like some raindrop on a hot pavement. I despaired to ever have an atom of faith, much less a speck or a grain of it. It just was not there, and I wondered if it would ever be possible for me to have that kind of faith to move a mountain or uproot a tree when I couldn't even keep my knees from pounding one another when I got up to speak or my heart raced when I tried to witness to someone. Basically, you could wring me out and not find an atom of that kind of faith. However, I knew it was available...plainly in the Word of God I read I was to "earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints". I just had not discovered where they delivered it! But I soon would. You see, I began to activate Mustard Seed faith the moment I began to wonder about it. It began, like that black speck...but once I began to plant it inside of me, the miracle took place!!
INCREASE MY FAITH, LORD!
Several years ago I was called to serve jury duty. I had never done that before, and after having watched movies and television programs, I was thinking it might be interesting to determine a person's guilt or innocence. The trial took several days, and once it was over with, the jury was sequestered until a verdict was reached. After a lot of debate, we were allowed to go outside in a little courtyard to stretch our legs and get fresh air. While waiting, I overheard two men in a conversation. One was a farmer. He was telling the other man about his field:
"I planted some grain last year. The seed sacks said that they contained 99 percent grain, but one percent "other seeds". Now I had no idea that the "other seeds" were mustard seeds, and when I went to harvest that field...I was shocked! The one percent mustard seeds had taken over my entire field!"
The word "mustard seed" caught my attention. I knew the verses of scripture by heart...and yet, never quite understood how it might work. And so, I decided when the trial was finished, I would try to learn why Jesus used a mustard seed and not some other seed. What was so significant about it? A week later, I was at the public library scouring every book I could find on mustard seed. I found it useful in culinary delights, and also as a medicine. But what really got my attention was the Encyclopedia Britannica. There I came across some enlightening facts I had never known.
IT IS OKAY TO BE "TROUBLESOME"
One, mustard seed grows every place in the world...in cold climates as well as hot ones. It can grow in any type of soil. It is disease-resistant and hardy. It comes in four different kinds of color: yellow, white, brown and black. And it is described as a TROUBLESOME seed. That word TROUBLESOME caught my immediate attention! Something clicked! For then I remembered the story of the unjust judge:
"There was in a city a judge which feared not God, neither regarded man, and there was a widow in that city, and she came unto him, saying. Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for awhile but afterward he said within himself, though I fear not God nor regard man, yet because this widow TROUBLETH me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find FAITH on the earth?"
Here was a revelation! The mustard seed certainly caused that farmer a lot of trouble...because it kept on multiplying and multiplying, just as that woman kept nagging that judge night and day about her case! And Jesus had linked her act of being persistent with FAITH!! The word "weary me" in this scripture is described as a "pugilist" (prize fighter) constantly pounding somebody in the eye! What does a prize fighter get in the ring to do? To win...by keeping up the blows until the opponent goes down and he wins the bout!
Mustard seed, when crushed, sets off a pungent odor...it also stings and hurts! It definitely gets your attention! And Jesus had used an unjust judge in this illustration to tell us that we have a JUST judge...our God! And would He not avenge us of our adversaries, our problems, our situations if we too could have this same kind of persistence? I had now discovered why Jesus had linked mustard seed to faith...it was hidden in that story of the unjust judge! He even closed out the discourse by saying, "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). Mustard-seed faith?
My mustard seeds were beginning to grow! I could not stop my quest to know more.
ONE ALWAYS GIVING TROUBLE
The Spirit turned me to the story of Jacob. What an unsavory character I had always thought him to be. He lied, he deceived, he was always getting into trouble of some sort or another. Yet, he was always blessed!! How could God let such a man be blessed? Even before birth, there was a fight going on between him and his twin brother, Esau. The struggle in her womb got so bad, that Rebecca prayed to the Lord about it. An answer came:
"There are two nations in your womb. Two manner of people will be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger".
The first baby was Esau, and when he came out, Jacob was holding onto his heel! So from the beginning, Jacob was trying to grab Esau's rights as an elder brother. The story of this struggle begins in Genesis 26. First the birthright. Jacob was eyeing that prize, and when Esau came in famished one day, Jacob told his brother he would give him something to eat if he gave up his birthright. Esau cared less for his birthright...(at that time.) Later, when father Isaac was about to give the blessing to Esau as the elder brother, Jacob listened to his mother's suggestion and disguised himself as Esau (as Isaac's eyesight was about gone) and came away with the blessing. Esau was enraged, but despite all the deception....it was a plan of God from the beginning.
Esau was described as a "profane person." Jacob ran away to his uncle's country, Haran, and even there was in trouble. Yet the blessings continued because Jacob was always wanting more and more from God. He prayed about them, and God spoke promises to this troublesome young man. A dream and a ladder to heaven spoke words of covenant promise that God would bless him and return him again to his own land which gave him hope, even through the years of servitude in exchange for Laban's daughters and flocks. Still the schemer, he was yet listening to God for revelation how to increase his flocks before leaving Laban. God faithfully gave him knowledge of how to increase that herd by using certain sticks in the watering troughs.
When Jacob finally left Haran and Laban, he knew that his brother Esau was still alive and would certainly be his enemy. How scared his must have been when he sent peace offerings to his brother and then went out alone to pray and seek God. It was there that an angel met him and they wrestled all night long.
"And Jacob was left alone, and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I WILL NOT LET THEE GO, EXCEPT THOU BLESS ME.
Just as the woman had persisted with the unjust judge, Jacob had been persistently obsessed with his goal...God's blessings!
And THIS IS WHAT MUSTARD SEED FAITH IS ABOUT:
And he said unto him, what is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel, for as a prince has thou power with God and with men and HAST PREVAILED!"
"I will not let go until you bless me! "....."I will not let go until you avenge me of mine adversary!"
REACH FOR HIS HEM-GET HIS ATTENTION!
Still further examples prove the truth of this revelation: Do we not see the same in the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' garment? The crowds were huge....all were pressing in to touch Jesus. How could she manage? Perhaps she crawled on the ground through the legs of the people. But she was determined to touch his garment, and when she did, virtue went out of Jesus and she was healed! He turned around and said, "Who touched me?" His disciples reminded him that everyone around him was trying to do that...but Jesus look down and saw the Mustard Seed faith of this woman...and that was all it took!
CRUMBS ARE SUFFICIENT
Then the woman who came to Jesus by night as he sat eating and asked for healing for her daughter. "Woman, it is not meet to give the children's bread to the dogs". "Yes! But even the dogs eat the crumbs from beneath the table" was her reply. She did not take "No" for an answer! That was MUSTARD SEED FAITH IN ACTION, and Jesus healed that woman's daughter!
CAN'T GET IN THE DOOR...CUT A HOLE IN THE ROOFTOP!
When Jesus was preaching in Capernaum...the place was packed with people, no room. So some men began to cut a hole in the rooftop to let down their friend who was sick of palsy...Jesus was interrupted! He was TROUBLED by this event. But Jesus saw their MUSTARD SEED FAITH IN ACTION...and he healed the man.
MAKE SURE HE HEARS YOU!
(Mar 10:46) "And they came to Jericho and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus thou son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they called the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; He calleth thee. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus in the way."
It is when we let that intense hunger, that intense resolve be activated...we will move the mountains and cast the tree into the sea! When we hunger and thirst so much that we will do anything to satisfy it...we will walk in Mustard Seed faith!
But we must not forget also, that though we might possess that faith to move the mountains and have not love, it is nothing. God will never honor a selfish quest for personal worldly reason...but will always honor our quest for more of Him.
A woman wrote in her Bible: "Lay your troubles before the Lord and pray." That is correct to a point. Prayer that gives up so easily, prayer that is not fervent and unyielding will not get God's attention. We must trouble the Lord with persistent prayers.
God WANTS us to bother Him! To get His attention! Tug on the hem of His garment....call out to Him! And keep at it until we get answers, until we get healed, until we obtain our blessings. For such persistence means we really and truly will do whatever we have to do to get it! That is real faith! Just wishing doesn't do...we are to come BOLDLY to the throne of grace.
"And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek (with all your heart!) and ye shall find; knock (and keep on knocking) and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocked it shall be opened". (Luke 11:9)
MARY E. ADAMS