About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Seed Size Faith
In Luke 17:6 Jesus said,
"If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this
mulberry tree, 'be uprooted and planted into the sea', and it will obey
you". Because of this
statement, some people believe that if you have real faith you can speak
to the bush in your yard and tell it to jump out of the ground and throw
itself into your neighbour's pickup truck. I
grant you, that would be convenient if you didn't want the bush any
Let's put this verse in
context. Beginning at verse
1 Jesus said that there will always be things that cause people to sin,
but woe to the one who causes someone to sin.
It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a
millstone tied around his neck. Jesus
continued by saying that if your brother sins, rebuke him.
If he repents, forgive him. Note
that you forgive only when repentance is exhibited.
Now notice the disciples'
response to Jesus. In verse
5 they said, "Increase our faith".
Why did they inject the idea that they needed more faith into the
conversation? Jesus was
talking about forgiving the repentant sinner, not faith?
If you stop to think about it, the answer is obvious. Being
human, the disciples probably thought that forgiving such an offender
was difficult, even if he did repent.
The disciples concluded that they needed more faith to forgive.
Now notice Jesus'
response to the disciples. He
didn't think they needed more faith.
In fact He told them that they needed less faith.
He compared faith to a seed.
Faith as small as a seed was sufficient to have a bush obey them,
or in context, faith as small as a seed was sufficient to give them the
ability to forgive a repentant sinner.
This passage tells me
that faith cannot
Jesus wasn't suggesting
that the disciples go around casting bushes into the sea as if the
bushes were demons. There's
no Biblical evidence that the disciples ever did such a thing.
There is Biblical evidence that they forgave when genuine
repentance was exhibited.
The phrase "if you
have faith" is an imperfect active indicative Greek verb phrase.
This means your faith, your trust in Jesus, should be continuous
and certain. You should
continually and confidently rest in the hammock of Jesus' ability to do
as He wishes in your life.
The insertion of the word
"if" in the phrase "if you have faith" tells me that
the disciples didn't fully trust Jesus to give them the ability to
forgive when repentance is evident.
It's clear to me that 100% trust in Jesus won't be realized in
our lives until we are perfected in the next life.
We will battle with trust until our dying day.
That may sound like a lack of faith to some, but it's not.
I trust Jesus that when He comes for us, we will be like Him, as
stated in 1 John 3:2. Until
then, we don't ask Jesus for more faith or more trust.
We ask Him to help us trust Him more than we presently do.
I conclude that Luke 17:6
concerns forgiveness based on genuine repentance.
It's not about casting bushes into the sea by faith.
Besides, according to verse 2 Jesus would rather have the
unrepentant sinner thrown into the sea.
Faith is trust. It's
relaxing comfortably and confidently in Jesus' ability to give us that
which we need to serve Him. That's
what Jesus meant in John 16:23 when He told us that when we ask the
Father for anything in His name we will receive it.
The words "in His name" tell us what we are to ask for.
We ask for things that will help us represent the name of Jesus
on earth. This doesn't
guarantee us a new car, a big paycheck, or even healing of every illness
that comes our way. It does
however; guarantee the tools we need to do His will.
This passage isn't
telling us to cast bushes into the sea by faith.
Such thinking is an unbiblical New Age and ultra positive
thinking philosophy that has been inflicting Christians for some time
now. Let's be confident and
secure in the fact that we can trust all of who we are with Jesus.
That's trust. That's
faith. That's what Luke 17:6