Friday, May 9, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 17

One of the gifts my wife and I got for our wedding was a spice rack. We got married almost three and a half years ago, and one of the 16 spices in that rack has been pretty much untouched in that time. It is a canister of mustard, one in which we have a running joke about when it comes to discussing recipes. Basically, we have no idea what we would use mustard seed in, so we say that its only use is for Biblical allegory. Other than that, we can't find a use for it.

What does this have to do with chapter 17 of Matthew? Well, it is here in chapter 17 where that specific allegory is mentioned. A mustard seed is very tiny. It is smaller than one of the ball bearings in my rollerblades. It is so small that if it were to spill on the floor, there is no way we would ever be able to clean up all of them. Jesus uses the size of the mustard seed in chapter 17 as an illustration of faith. It does not take a great amount of faith to accomplish what God wants, just as it takes just one mustard seed to grow a very large tree.

17"O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me." 18Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.

 19Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn't we drive it out?"

 20He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." – Matthew 17:17-20

Even for the disciples faith was a struggle. We have seen this in previous chapters, and there will be further examples of this throughout the gospels. Peter is famous for his lack of faith, yet he is the rock upon which Jesus built His church. In this passage we see that even a small amount of faith can accomplish great things. Even now, when I am struggling with an extreme lack of faith, I am not completely dry faith-wise. It is my hope that what little faith I have can still accomplish what I need to do for the Lord.

So how do we grow our faith? I have often seen faith as something that is easy to grow when things are going well, but quickly goes away when things get rough. It is when things get rough that we need faith the most. The allegory with the mustard seed comes into play here, because sometimes the smallest amount of faith, that is, simply reaching out to God when we need Him, can be enough. In that, it is a choice to reach out and have faith that He is there and can do something about it. I feel I reached that point yesterday, because I don't have much else left.


  1. What is your definition of faith of a mustard seed?
  2. How do we grow faith when things are rough?
  3. How does grown faith help us when things are rough?

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