Summary: The healing of 10 lepers and the Samaritan in particular illustrates Jesus response to the disciples request for increased faith. "If you have faith as a mustard seed . . ." Jesus said, the impossible will become possible.
A Samaritan’s Mustard Seed Faith
By: Charles W. Holt
There is found in the 17th chapter of Luke a story of the healing of 10 lepers. In just a few minutes I will ask you to read the story with me beginning with verse 11 and continuing through verse 19. First, I want to make a few remarks that will provide a setting or introduction to this story.
Many sermons have been preached using this text in Luke 17. Most often the central focus is upon the man who, after discovering he was healed, returned to give thanks for his healing. This is certainly a fitting application. We learn that a proper response to God’s goodness and blessings is for us to offer Him our grateful thanks in praise.
I know that I do not have to encourage anyone in this audience to give thanks unto the Lord. We have already done that in this service. If time permitted – which it doesn’t – I would like to read ten verses beginning with 1 Chronicles 16 and continuing with another nine verses in the Psalms that begin by saying, "O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good." (1 Chronicles 16:34, Psalms 105:1, Psalms 106:1, Psalms 107:1, Psalms 118:1, Psalms 118:29, Psalms 136:1, Psalms 136:2, Psalms 136:3, Psalms 136:26)
But something else equally as important as giving thanks– perhaps even more important – is found in this passage of Scripture. I believe that this story is told—actually is intended to illustrate--a response to the earlier request made by the disciples. Their request is found in verse 5 and the Lord’s answer to them is found in verse 6. All these incidents and events are tied together. In other words, taking into consideration the context that surrounds the healing of these lepers we get a complete picture of what the Lord is ready and willing to do today. There is something here that every one of us can identify with, that we can relate to.
The disciples had said, "Lord increase our faith." And Jesus had said, "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea, and it would obey you."
I dare say that this four-word petition – Lord increase our faith – has been and IS the cry of most Christians. For me—and I believe for you--the answer to that prayer would go a long way toward helping me – all of us – to be a better Christian.
We think, If I had more faith! What great things could be done. Just think of the blessing I could be. Just think of what greater things I could be doing for the Lord and for myself! Think of how stronger, happier, more useful my life would be. Why, if I had more faith I wouldn’t be struggling with my problems as I am today. I would have answers. I would be the victorious Christian I long to be . . . .If the Lord would increase my faith!
Jesus answered the disciples. In answering them he answers us. However, when Jesus answered their request for more faith He said some things that we don’t understand to this day. He said, If you have faith as a mustard seed you could pull up trees by the roots and cast them into the sea! I must say to you – and you don’t have to share my feeling about this – but I don’t have a need to uproot mulberry trees and throw them into the sea. I have more pressing needs in my life than transplanting trees!
But wait! Don’t leave me yet. What I hear Jesus saying is something I can relate to and you can relate to. Jesus is saying, if you have faith as a mustard seed you can accomplish the impossible. You can do what appears to be impossible. You can receive what appears is impossible to receive. The question is, How much faith is enough faith to accomplish the impossible task? And, do I have that faith? Do I have mustard seed faith? The answers to these questions is simple and is found in the scripture we are going to read.
There’s nothing better than a good story to provide an answer. The Holy Spirit has provided us such a story with the healing of the 10 lepers. Let’s read in from Luke 17:11-19
11. Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee
12. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.
13. And they lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"