7 October 2007

Luke 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 immediately follows.

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

To Ponder

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?

Bible notes author

Revd Jonathan Kerry

Jonathan Kerry is a Methodist Minister, and served as the Co-ordinating Secretary for Worship and Learning in the Connexional Team. He lives in Sheffield and London and in his spare time enjoys going to the cinema, long walks and train journeys..