Summary: Part three focuses on faith as a grain of mustard seed.
The Rock and the Hard Place Part 3
Are You Satisfied With Your Faith Part 2?
Scriptures: Matthew 17:14-21; 13:31-32
This is the continuation of my message from two weeks ago. If you recall from that message I asked you if you were satisfied with your faith. In my youth Sunday message last week I asked you what happened to our childlike faith because our faith shifts as we get older and gain more experiences. This morning I want to return to the question I asked you two week ago “Are you satisfied with your faith?” I want you to couple this question with the one from last week so that you can consider the timeline, from where you started as a child believing what you were told to where you are today and possibly needing proof.
Two weeks ago I shared with you several examples of people receiving what they were seeking from Jesus because of their faith. Over and over again Jesus acknowledged that they were receiving what they were seeking from Him because of their faith, not His faith. If they did not have faith, they would not have received what they were seeking. I want to reiterate to you that it requires faith to get our prayers answered and our circumstances changed. This morning we’re going to take a look at what Jesus said about mustard seed and the analogy He used to demonstrate faith that grows versus remaining dormant. When you leave here this morning I hope that you will understand fully what Jesus meant when He made the statement about faith as a grain of mustard seed. If you have heard someone say that you only need the faith of a mustard seed in order to do great things for God and change your circumstances you have only heard a very small part of the mustard seed story. I do not know how many times I have heard people say, or said it myself, that you only need faith the size of a mustard seed to do great things, but this is a grave error in translation and teaching because its gives the impression that we only need a little faith to do great things when it reality our little faith must be tended to so it can grow into great faith.
So what is it about the mustard seed faith that we are getting wrong? Let’s begin with a quick review of the mustard seed. The mustard seed plant referred to in scripture is generally considered to be black mustard, a large annual plant that grows up to nine feet tall. This nine feet tall plant comes from a proverbially small seed (this smallness is referred to faith in Matthew 17:20 which we will cover later.) Jews did not grow the plant in gardens which is consistent with Matthew's description of it growing in a field. There are many interpretations of what Jesus meant about it growing into a large tree where nesting birds can find refuge, but one point is very clear, the seed grows into a very large plant/tree. One element of this mustard plant is that it is fast-growing and has some takeover properties. Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History (published around AD 78) writes that "mustard… is extremely beneficial for the health. It grows entirely wild, though it is improved by being transplanted: but on the other hand when it has once been sown it is scarcely possible to get the place free of it, as the seed when it falls germinates at once." Keep the following facts in mind as we go through the rest of the message: 1) the mustard seed starts out very small; 2) when planted, it grows into a large plant or tree; 3) it has take-over properties; 4) once it is established, it is hard to get rid of it. Now turn with me to Matthew chapter seventeen.
I. Mustard Seed Faith – REALLY?
Matthew 17:14-21 reads: “When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, ‘Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. ‘I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.’ And Jesus answered and said, ‘You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.’ And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not drive it out?’ And He said to them, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”