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? Can tiny amounts of faith really move mountains? What is the meaning of this saying of Jesus and the applications for our life?
In Luke 17:6 Jesus tells His disciples, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” By using the uncommonly small mustard seed as an example, Jesus is speaking figuratively about the incalculable power of God when unleashed in the lives of those with true faith.
We know that Jesus was instructing his disciples, about mountain moving and uprooting trees by faith is not to be taken literally. The key to understanding the passages is the nature of faith, which is a gift from God.
He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
“I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” ~ Matthew 17:20 (Matthew 17:20 (ESV)
A mustard seed is so small it is nearly unbelievable that Jesus said that faith that big can move a mountain. What stops us from moving mountains whether literally or figuratively speaking, is doubt. Doubt will block any blessing you are believing God for.
How Does Doubt Come
It immediately comes as soon as you see a situation bigger than you. It takes away your faith and therefore your victory. Every time doubt arises in your mind you need to silence it with the word of God and remind yourself of what God has done in the past.
Because you are not yet taking God seriously, said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, “Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you would be able to tackle.” (Message Translation)
If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you (Luke 17:6).
Jesus proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches’” (Matthew 13:31-32).
There is absolutely nothing that God cannot do through faith. There is nothing that can withstand it. But he needs your faith to do it. The magnitude of that tiny seed, when spoken in faith will move mountains.
Where there is a tiny bit of faith, it can grow to immense proportions, spreading its influence far and wide and benefiting those who it comes into contact with.
A seed does nothing until it is planted. Your faith does nothing until you plant it, how, by speaking the Word. That activate your faith.
After that, it can overcome obstacles and even move rocks through its continuous expansion and growth. Seeds are persistent, and they never give up.
Your faith in Jesus is what the devil is after because taking your faith means taking your inheritance. Without faith, we cannot see God and possess our inheritance. Remember without faith it is impossible to please God. You must believe that God’s word is true to the end and protect your faith to the end. If your faith has been failing or it used to be stronger, it is okay, you can build it back up again, through the word of God. Romans 10:17 says Faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God.
The woman with the issue of blood if she had not stepped out on her mustard seed faith, she would not have been healed. Luke 8:43-48. She was persistence. Due to the greatness of the crowd, it took determination and desperation for this woman to press through the mass of people to just simply touch Jesus. He wanted the woman and the crowd to know that His garments had not caused her to be healed, but the strength of her faith. That same faith in you begins to move mountains, whatever your mountain is, financial needs, relationship needs, healing in your body, that same faith, when applied with the Word of God, will work for you.
10 Lepers Are Healed
“As he was going into a village, ten men with leprosy came toward him. They stood at a distance and shouted, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘Go show yourselves to the priests.’ On their way, they were healed. When one of them discovered he was healed, he came back, shouting praises to God. He bowed down at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” Luke 17:12-16.
The Man Lying at the Pool of Bethesda
The Healing of a paralytic at the pool of Bethesda is one of the miraculous healings attributed to Jesus in the New Testament…John’s describes how Jesus, visiting Jerusalem for a Jewish feast (John 5:1) He encounters one of the disabled man lying paralyzed, for thirty-eight year.
Hebrews Chapter 11 is often called the “Hall of Faith” or the “Faith Hall of Fame”. The writer of the book of Hebrews introduces an impressive list of heroic figures from the Old Testament –remarkable men and women whose stories stand out to encourage and challenge the faith. Some of these heroes of the Bible are well-known personalities, while others remain anonymous.
Heroes of Faith in the Book of Hebrews
The first person listed in the Hall of Faith is Abel.
It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith. (NLT)
Abel was the second son of Adam and Eve. He was the first martyr in the Bible and the first shepherd. Extraordinarily little else is known about Abel, except that he found favor in God’s eyes by offering him a pleasing sacrifice. As a result, Abel was murdered by his older brother Cain, whose sacrifice did not please God.
Enoch – The Man Who Walked with God
The next member of the Hall of Faith is Enoch, the man who walked with God. Enoch so pleased the Lord God that he was spared the experience of death.
It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying — “he disappeared because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (NLT)
Noah – A Righteous Man
Noah is the third hero named in the Hall of Faith.
It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith. (NLT)
Noah was known to be a righteous man. He was blameless among the people of his time. This does not mean Noah was perfect or sinless, but that he loved God with his whole heart and was fully committed to obedience. Noah’s life — his singular, unshakable faith in the midst of a faithless society — has much to teach us today.
Abraham – Father of the Jewish Nation
One of Abraham’s most notable feats of faith occurred when he willingly obeyed God’s command in Genesis 22:2: “Take your son, your only son — yes, Isaac, whom you love so much — and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” (NLT)
Abraham was fully prepared to slay his son, while fully trusting God to either resurrect Isaac from the dead or provide a substitutionary sacrifice. At the last minute, God intervened and supplied the necessary ram. The death of Isaac would have contradicted every promise God had made to Abraham, so his willingness to perform the ultimate sacrifice of killing his son is probably the most dramatic example of faith and trust in God found in the entire Bible.
Sarah – Mother of the Jewish Nation
Sarah, the wife of Abraham, is one of only two women named among the heroes of faith (Some translations, however, render the verse so that only Abraham receives credit.)
It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. (NLT)
Sarah waited long past child-bearing age to have a baby. At times she doubted, struggling to believe God would fulfill his promise. Losing hope, she took matters into her own hands. Like most of us, Sarah was looking at God’s promise from her limited, human perspective. But the Lord used her life to unfold an extraordinary plan, proving that God is never restricted by what usually happens. Sarah’s faith is an inspiration to every person who has ever waited on God to act.
Isaac – Father of Esau and Jacob
Isaac, the miracle child of Abraham and Sarah, is the next hero distinguished in the Hall of Faith.
It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau. (NLT)
The Jewish patriarch, Isaac, fathered twin boys, Jacob and Esau. His own father, Abraham, was one of the greatest examples of faithfulness the Bible has to offer. It’s doubtless Isaac would ever forget how God had delivered him from death by supplying the necessary lamb to be sacrificed in his place. This legacy of faithful living carried into his marriage with Rebekah, Jacob’s one and only wife and lifelong love.
Jacob – Father of the 12 Tribes of Israel
Jacob, another of Israel’s great patriarchs, fathered 12 sons who became heads of the 12 tribes. One of his sons was Joseph, a key figure in the Old Testament. But Jacob started out as a liar, cheater, and manipulator. He struggled with God his entire life.
The turning point for Jacob came after a dramatic, all-night wrestling match with God. In the end, the Lord touched Jacob’s hip, and he was a broken man, but also a new man. God renamed him Israel, which means “he struggles with God.”
It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff. (NLT)
The words “as he leaned on his staff” are of no small significance. After Jacob wrestled with God, for the rest of his days, he walked with a limp, and he gave over control of his life to God. As an old man and now a great hero of faith, Jacob “leaned on his staff,” demonstrating his hard-learned trust and dependence on the Lord.
Joseph – Interpreter of Dreams
Joseph is one of the greatest heroes of the Old Testament and an extraordinary example of what can happen when a person surrenders his life in complete obedience to God.
It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left. (NLT)
After the terrible wrongs done to him by his brothers, Joseph offered forgiveness and made this incredible statement in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” (NLT)
Moses – Giver of the Law
Like Abraham, Moses takes a place of prominence in the Hall of Faith. A towering figure in the Old Testament, Moses is honored in Hebrews 11:23-29. (It should be noted that Moses’ parents, Amram and Jochebed, are also commended for their faith in these verses, as well as the people of Israel for launching across the Red Sea during their escape from Egypt.)
Although Moses is one of the most striking examples of heroic faith in the Bible, he was human like you and me, plagued by mistakes and frailties. It was his willingness to obey God despite his many flaws that made Moses someone God could use — and use mightily indeed!
Joshua – Successful Leader, Faithful Follower
Against overwhelming odds, Joshua led the people of Israel in their conquest of the Promised Land, beginning with the strange and miraculous battle of Jericho. His strong faith caused him to obey, no matter how illogical God’s commands might seem. Obedience, faith, and dependence on the Lord made him one of Israel’s finest leaders. He set a brave example for us to follow.
While Joshua’s name is not specified in this verse, as the leader of Israel’s march on Jericho, his faith hero status is certainly implied:
It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down. (NLT)
Rahab – Spy for the Israelites
Besides Sarah, Rahab is the only other woman directly named among the heroes of faith. Considering her background, Rahab’s inclusion here is quite remarkable. Before she recognized the God of Israel as the One true God, she made her living as a prostitute in the city of Jericho.
On a secret mission, Rahab played an important role in Israel’s defeat of Jericho. This scandalous woman turned spy for God was actually honored twice in the New Testament. She is one of only five women spotlighted in the lineage of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1:5.
It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. (NLT)
Gideon – The Reluctant Warrior
Gideon was one of Israel’s 12 judges. Although he’s referenced only briefly in the Hall of Faith, Gideon’s story is featured prominently in the book of Judges. He is a fascinating Bible character almost anyone can relate to. Like many of us, he was plagued with doubts and acutely aware of his own weaknesses.
In spite of Gideon’s inconsistencies of faith, the central lesson of his life is clear: the Lord can achieve tremendous things through anyone who depends not on self, but on God alone.
Barak – The Obedient Warrior
Barak was a courageous warrior who answered God’s call, but in the end, a woman, Jael, received credit for his defeat of the Canaanite army. Like many of us, Barak’s faith wavered, and he struggled with doubt, yet God saw fit to list this otherwise unrecognized hero in the Bible’s Hall of Faith.
Samson – Judge and Nazirite
On the surface, what stands out most is Samson’s heroic exploits of superhuman might. The biblical account equally highlights his epic failures. He gave into many weaknesses of the flesh and made numerous mistakes in life. But in the end, he returned to the Lord. Samson, blind and humbled, finally realized the true source of his great strength — his dependence on God.
Jephthah – Warrior and Judge
Jephthah was a not-so-well-known Old Testament judge who proved that it’s possible to overcome rejection. His story in Judges 11-12 contains both triumph and tragedy.
Jephthah was a mighty warrior, a brilliant strategist, and a natural leader of men. Although he accomplished great things when he trusted in God, he made a fatal mistake that ended in disastrous consequences for his family.
David – A Man After God’s Own Heart
David, the shepherd-boy king, looms large in the pages of Scripture. This courageous military leader, great king, and slayer of Goliath was by no means a perfect role model. Although he’s ranked among the most notable heroes of faith, he was a liar, adulterer, and murderer. The Bible does not attempt to paint a rosy picture of David. Rather, his failures are vividly displayed for all to see.
So what was it about David’s character that made him such a favorite of God? Was it his zest for life and passionate love for God? Or was it his unshakable faith and trust in the endless mercy and steadfast goodness of the Lord?
Samuel – Prophet and Last of the Judges
Throughout his life, Samuel served the Lord with integrity and unwavering faith. In all the Old Testament, few people were as loyal to God as Samuel. He demonstrated that obedience and respect are the best ways to show God we love him.
While the people of his day were destroyed by their own selfishness, Samuel stood out as a man of honor. Like Samuel, we can avoid the corruption of this world if we put God first in everything.
Seeds have the power to remake the worlds around them. And that is what faith does for us—beginning with the world within. However, your faith will only grow when you continuously keep taking steps of faith and silencing every doubt in your mind. The Bible says in Romans 10:17, KJV: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Challenge yourself to practicalize your faith and apply it to every situation you find yourself. Do not be content with just going to church and saying you are a Christian, live it out daily. Have faith in God the way Christ did. If you do not believe that your faith is where it should be, then pray to God to increase your faith and help it to grow. In Jesus Name!