One of the most profound teachings of Jesus Christ is the teaching on the kind of faith that is the key to being all God wants us to be and demonstrating all God wants us to do. We all have read Hebrews 11 and are stunned by the statement the writer makes when he declares in verse 6:
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”
Jesus was always deeply touched when he saw that there were those who believed in His goodness and willingness to destroy the works of the devil whenever and wherever He encountered them. The scripture records the reaction of Jesus when a Roman centurion came to him on behalf of his tormented and paralyzed servant. He just asked Jesus to “speak a word and my servant will be healed” in Matthew 8:8. When “Jesus heard it, He marveled and said to those that followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel”. The word “marveled”, means to “greatly admire” or “wonder”.
Jesus also marveled at something else. In Mark 6:6, “He marveled because of their unbelief“, when He visited His hometown and faced a culture of unbelief permeating Nazareth. It is interesting that he talked about not being honored there and to truly honor God is most certainly to believe that He is and that He is a rewarder. It is also to believe that He is going to do what He says, that He is going to fulfill His promises, that to love God is to believe God and faith works through love as Galatians says.
Faith is anchored in the invisible, not the visible, natural world around us. What we see around us, the circumstances of our lives, the events of our past that shaped our present, the things that have and are happening to us, are real. However, the invisible is the superior reality and faith brings the invisible into our physical reality. A practical and realistic person is one who dwells in the presence and promises of God and experiences peace and joy in believing. Peace and Joy are qualities of life. Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Let’s look at the teaching of Jesus on Faith:
“And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely ; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Then Jesus answered and said, “Oh faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly as I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move and nothing shall be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
In another place in the gospels, Jesus said that “if ye have faith… ye shall say unto this mountain, be removed and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.” Matthew 21:21
The mustard seed is so small that thousands of them can fit into an aspirin bottle. Yet Jesus is not saying to have faith as small or as weak as a mustard seed. Jesus was actually referring to the NATURE of that seed and NOT the SIZE! The mustard seed is the only seed of all seeds that when bombarded by radiation still produces EXACTLY what it is and can never be altered, become hybrid, mutant or deformed by any outside influence. God gives seed, i.e. specific promises of what He will be to us and do through us, His promises, His rhema. This seed is activated by our faith, unwavering, staggering not at any contrary evidence or seemingly impossible circumstances, mustard seed faith uproots anything and removes any obstacles as we doubt not.
In Matthew’s account, the issue is a life of power, destroying the works of the devil, emancipating mankind as a lifestyle and coming into the “greater works” promise of Jesus Christ to us today. The answer to the disciples not being able to cast out the demon was not lack of prayer or fasting. Some suggest this verse is not in the original manuscript while others say the phrase “and fasting” is not. Whether this verse is accepted in its entirety, partially or not at all is not the reason for the powerlessness in the face of the enemy. Jesus clearly says the reason they could not cast out the demon was their “unbelief” and the answer was “faith as a mustard seed”.
The Mustard Seed and the Mountain
How does the Mustard Seed become victorious over the mountain? What is Jesus trying to teach us here? The word “mountain” in scripture means to “loom up”. The whole idea is being confronted with something so large and overwhelming that you can’t see how you can get around it, move it out of the way. Obstacles that seem too immovable and powerful leaving us with a feeling of weakness and hopelessness, paralyzing us with doubt.
Yet if one has “faith as a mustard seed”, any mountain could be moved and even moved into the sea. A mountain moving to the sea? Perhaps the following insight can explain the implications of the mustard seed and the mountain during the time of Jesus.
Jesus Christ lived during the time of the Roman Empire and as all boys did, He learned its history. He knew full well the historical background behind the mustard seed and the removal of mountains and he used this to bring out a truth about faith that would be able to launch His followers into a life of exploits and power.
History records that in 63 BC, the Jordan area was conquered by Pompey and came under Roman rule. Pompey had a director of engineering and construction named Albanus Gaius, a close friend. Pompey desired to build new harbors and ports on the Mediterranean Sea as well as the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee and also the existing harbors and ports needed to be upgraded. One of the needs was for large stones to be quarried from the mountains to fill the harbors. Pompey needed slave labor and funds to do the job and asked the Roman Senate for this but did not hear from them for over 2 years.
Determined to accomplish the job for Pompey, Gaius, an amateur biologist, noticed that mustard, a rugged spice plant, grew abundantly and effortlessly in Judea and Galilee. He also noticed that it grew best in soil that had abundant lime content so he tried an experiment. He decided to sow mustard seeds on the sides of limestone mountains. To his surprise the seeds grew quickly because of the abundance of lime on the mountains and they grew effortlessly. As the plants grew, they pulled the lime out of the rocks and big boulders began to break away and tumble down the mountain. The stones were collected by laborers and hauled to the port, literally being “cast into the sea“. So the tiny mustard seed had the ability to disintegrate a limestone mountain regardless of the size of the mountain.
Nothing Will Be Impossible To You
God gives us mustard seeds. The seeds are His promises to us purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. They are God’s intent for us, the revelation of His purposes for our lives, specific words, revelations that declare to us what He has already planned to DO in us and through us along with the nature of our callings and destiny now and in the future. All the obstacles or circumstances that loom up as mountains in our lives that say that it is impossible for any number of reasons will be conquered as we SOW THE SEED OF PROMISE into that “mountain”, and we do that by declaring that these promises will come to pass. We embrace with our heart what He has said. We declare and speak out of that conviction, honoring God publicly as BEING ABLE to fulfill His promises. In that EXPECTATION of heart and soul, we attract the Spirit of God and the angelic hosts to work to cause the seed, activated by our faith, to crumble and cast down the mountains in our way.
Believe What He Has Said
The seed of God’s promise to you grows larger and stronger as you believe. Not only will the mountains crumble but the mustard seed planted in the limestone mountains draws out the lime and the sycamore trees (Jesus talked about it in Luke 17:1-10) with its extensive root system need lime to grow. These trees eventually without lime would lose their grip on the soil and Jesus knew that when He said that it could easily be pulled up by the roots.
Our faith releases the power of God into our lives to transform us into His love expressed to mankind and His power demonstrated to destroy the works of the devil. Nothing is impossible to the believer who stands in unwavering belief… absolutely nothing. HE IS AND A REWARDER to those who walk in the never giving up confidence and determination exemplified by the mustard seed that becomes a plant.