"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.
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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.
The kind of faith required to move mountains (to do what seems impossible humanly) must include within itself an expectancy of results, as is evident in these words of Jesus: "For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Mark 11:23, 24.
Isn't this the kind of faith Jesus commended in his healing work? When, for example, he said to someone who had been healed, "Thy faith hath made thee whole," See, e.g., Mark 5:25–34; Mark 10:46–52; Luke 17:12–19. what he appears to have commended was the individual's deep-felt expectancy that his or her encounter with the Master would result in healing. This faith was more than a passive belief or blind hope. It was not the kind of faith that rests on the dead letter of mere dogma—equivalent to lifeless sand. How futile it would be to water a sand grain, hoping that it might miraculously sprout into something wonderful! A Christian with faith only as a grain of sand would fall into the trap James warned against when he wrote, "Faith without works is dead." James 2:20.
But how do we get the kind of living faith Christ Jesus had? How does a mustard seed develop into a full-grown herb? A seed grows into a particular species of plant because that identity is inherent in the seed and expresses itself naturally. So, speaking of the spiritual creation portrayed in the first chapter of Genesis, Mrs. Eddy writes, "The tree and herb do not yield fruit because of any propagating power of their own, but because they reflect the Mind which includes all." Science and Health, p. 507.
Man, made in God's own image, represents fully this "Mind which includes all." Identifying ourselves correctly as God's offspring, rather than as sinful mortals, and nurturing through prayer and spiritualized living this seed of true, spiritual identification, we will see our faith in God and His creation grow and spread out as the mustard tree.
For example, the recognition that man is the likeness of God, Love, accompanied by an expectancy of seeing this divine origin manifest in experience, can burst the static bands of hatred and bring harmony to troubled relationships. An understanding of man's origin as spiritual, in God rather than in a mortal egg—understanding that includes full expectancy of spiritual development—can result in the complete and permanent healing of physical ills through spiritual means alone. Such is the healing method of Christian Science. Aren't these experiences the result of having "faith as a grain of mustard seed"?
With such faith, instances of Christian healing (and other mountain-moving experiences) cease to appear miraculous, but are understood as a natural outcome of divine Science. The seed of faith, nurtured in the soil of spirituality, inevitably brings forth good fruit. Mrs. Eddy writes, "The life of Christ Jesus was not miraculous, but it was indigenous to his spirituality,—the good soil wherein the seed of Truth springs up and bears much fruit." Ibid., pp. 270–271.
Perhaps at this moment you feel your faith is small, and you only dimly glimpse the possibilities of spiritual power; but through study and prayer and following the teachings of Christ Jesus, you can grow in understanding and expectancy.
When the apostles said to Jesus, "Lord, Increase our faith," the Master's reply began with these words: "If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed ...." Luke 17:5, 6. Faith that increases. Such faith is available to us all. Actually it is a God-derived quality of thought. As we yield to the law of God, Life, accept the nurturing of ever-present Love, and manifest this divine presence in our thoughts, words, and actions, we will each see the seed of faith grow, develop, and bear fruit in our own lives.