"As a grain of mustard seed"

The seed of faith, if spiritually tended, will grow up to be a tree of healing.

Once, Matthew tells us, when Christ Jesus' disciples failed to cure a case that was brought to them for healing, Jesus rebuked their unbelief, saying, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." Matt. 17:20. Would his words have had the same import if he had said "a grain of sand" instead of "a grain of mustard seed"? Both similes would imply that even a tiny quantity of faith is sufficient to accomplish grand results, but might not his choice of the mustard seed have been related to quality as well as quantity?

It is interesting to consider this question in the light of the parable in which Jesus speaks of the kingdom of God as being "like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: but when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it." See Mark 4:30–32. Here we have a reference not only to the tiny size of the mustard seed but to the fact that it includes within itself the potential for growth, expansion, and fulfillment. It embodies all the potential of the full-grown plant.

Couldn't a seed be said to represent faith with full expectancy of results? A sand grain, on the other hand, is inert, having no potential for development. So to have faith as a grain of sand would be quite different from having faith as a grain of mustard seed.

October 20, 1986

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