Mustard Seed Faith. What did Jesus mean when He said if you have faith as a mustard seed? Does this mean that we only need a small amount of faith? What is the meaning of this saying of Jesus and the applications for our life?
Mustard trees have been found in various locations throughout the world. Even though it’s one of the smallest seeds, the trees can grow up to 20 feet tall and 20 feet wide. The tree can grow in arid, dry climates and thrive even in clay or sandy soil. It can grow in hot, dry weather or cool, wet climates. I see the mustard seed as being symbolic of faith in that our faith can be tested in the “dry times”, the most difficult circumstances (drought, poor soil, and in clay and sandy ground). Also, even if the tree is cut down to the trunk, it can grow back again, so the analogy is that even during times of pruning, the believer can overcome and come back stronger than ever, just like the mustard tree that’s been severely pruned and even if only a tiny bit of faith remains. The mustard tree is drought tolerant and if we have faith even the size of a tiny mustard seed, we too can tolerate the dry times in our lives, the difficult growing seasons of a Christian, and even when we are “planted” in poor soil we can still grow, even if we only have a small amount of faith.
In Matthew 17:20, Jesus said, “Because of your unbelief for verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
A mustard seed is only 1 to 2 millimeters which is about 1/64th of an inch! I believe Jesus’ point is that is only takes a tiny amount of faith to “move mountains” because Jesus said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”, Matthew 9:29.
Jesus compared the mustard seed to the Kingdom, saying “Another parable put forth unto them, saying, the kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field” Matthew 13:31 and “And the Lord said, if ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea, and it should obey you” Luke 17:6. Jesus seems to be saying that the Kingdom of God, as the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, was small in the beginning and from this tiny seed, it would grow and grow.
If you have problems with your faith, you’re not alone. Even the disciples who spent three years with Jesus had difficulty in believing. Many times Jesus told them: “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Matthew 6:30
Jesus rebuked the disciples so often about their having “little faith” because they doubted His divinity. I have been quilty of having little faith. Is He not God and being God, is He not all powerful? Yes, but my humanity is too often pushing this knowledge out because I tend to only believe what I see. I must believe with the eyes of faith. Even though I have never seen Jesus, I know that He exists and He is there for us. We will see Him someday.
Jesus said to doubting Thomas, “..Thomas because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed, blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” John 20:29. I admit it is hard to believe when we can’t see something but I must believe in Him…even though my eyes don’t see Him. That is what faith is all about. It only takes a tiny amount of faith to “move mountains”. My faith is only as strong as the object of my faith.
That’s why only a tiny bit of faith can go a long, long way. Even if it’s a 1/64th of an inch.