7 October 2007Luke 17:5-10
"The Lord replied, 'If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, "Be uprooted and planted in the sea", and it would obey you'". (v.6)
Today's passage comes at the end of a long section of Luke's
Gospel that contains teachings about the nature of faith. It is set
in the context of Jesus' journey from Galilee, in the north of
Israel, south towards Jerusalem. This journey is first mentioned as
far back as Luke 9:51 and
we are reminded of it again in Luke 17:11, which
Jesus is travelling out of obedience to his sense of what God requires of him and many of the teachings are about the meanings of faith and obedience. In these verses he is speaking to his closest followers, the disciples (also called the apostles), but possibly also in the company of some of his harshest critics, the Pharisees - scholars whose interpretation of Jewish law was often different from Jesus'.
So Jesus has a word for everyone, whether they are anxious or confident about their relationship with God.
The saying of Jesus in verse 6 may well be based on a traditional saying about the power of faith to achieve things that seem to be impossible (another version speaks of 'the faith which can move mountains'). Jesus seems to stretch the saying to its extremes by suggesting that even the tiniest ("a mustard seed") amount of faith in God can not only achieve the apparently impossible (uproot a tree) but something beyond our imagination (a tree growing in the sea).
Jesus seems to be saying that God can do great things through us, no matter how weak our faith, if we simply respond obediently to God's promptings
Do you consider yourself to have a little ('a mustard seed') of faith or a lot? If your faith seems weak, what small step of obedience to God could you take today?
If your faith seems strong, what in your life might need to be uprooted so that you can bring life in new situations?