First the Blade
© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven
Building a Foundation of Faith (e)
In Jesus’ third year of ministry, the twelve disciples asked the Lord to increase their faith. You would have expected the disciples to sit on the ground, pull out their notebooks and write down His every word because this was such an important question.
Maybe Jesus could have rolled out a large blackboard in front of the twelve. He might have reached for a piece of chalk in His robe and wrote the top ten points on how to increase the disciples’ faith.
But instead of a ten-point lecture, He gave a simple, one sentence illustration:
“If you have faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.” (Luke 17: 6)
Scripture does not reveal the disciple’s reactions. Thus, we must assume the disciples were satisfied with His answer because Scripture does not suggest they ever asked the same question again.
How does this one sentence explain how we Christians can increase our faith?
First of all, who spoke the simple, one sentence illustration? Jesus – the Living Word – did.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)
Faith instantly arises in our hearts when Jesus speaks to us.
This can happen while we are reading the Bible and a verse jumps off the page, touching our hearts with a deep impression. The verse may be the exact answer we need at that moment or sometime in the future. Thus, our faith comes alive because we believe the Lord has spoken to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
It could happen while we are grilling hamburgers on the patio, our appetites hungering for a tasty meal and our minds solely on the task at hand. Out of nowhere, we know how to handle a situation, which had been bugging us for days. We then have the faith to apply the answer because we know it came via the Holy Spirit, who only speaks what the Lord tells Him.
Other possible ways the Lord may speak to us are through prophetic words, dreams, visions, songs, movies and whatever. The list is endless because our Lord is a creative speaker. But no matter how He does it, we end up knowing the Lord is speaking to us because of the lasting impression it leaves on our hearts.
Okay, we understand how faith comes alive when Jesus speaks to us, but why the mustard seed?
The mustard seed was the smallest seed in Israel. When germinated and under the proper growing conditions, the seed grew into a mature bush within three months’ time to an average height of seven feet tall. The mature plant was strong enough for birds to nest in its branches.
Therefore, when Jesus used the mustard seed as His example, He was talking about the seed’s one-sided genetic focus – or faith – to be the largest garden plant. The seed never doubted or waivered in its faith to be all it was called to be. The seed could even lie dormant for over sixty years, but when the conditions were right, it would fulfill its genetic calling by growing into a mature plant.
Although the mustard seed is tiny, mustard-seed faith is not a small amount of faith. It is 100%, put-your-hand-to-the-plow-and-not-look-back, all-in faith. It is the pinnacle of faith and where we need to set our sights for our journeys with the Lord.
How can we have mustard-seed faith for ourselves?
First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. (Mark 4:28)
Faith is a maturation process, but if we are willing to learn and be taught by the Holy Spirit, our faith will move mountains.
(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)