Many of us have heard the phrase, “with faith like a mustard seed, you can move mountains.” It is one of the often-quoted statements made by Jesus discussing faith. The idea is simple, if you simply have a little bit of faith, God can do great things.
But what if there was another way to read it?
From the Mount of Olives it is about 8 miles to the Herodium. The Herodium is essentially a mountain. That mountain had a fortress on top of it. And in the center of that fortress was a palace. And that palace was one of the residences of Herod the great. The architectural work would have been known far and wide because of its scope. There is a smaller hill next to Herodium that was cut in half, the top half was place on top of another hill to make it even larger. Herod the great literally moved mountains to create a massive structure of power and authority.
Now in Matthew 17 the disciples were about 8 miles away near the Mount of Olives. A man approached Jesus and asked him to heal his son. The man had asked the disciples to heal his son but the disciples were unable to. Jesus reprimands the disciples and says that it is because of their little faith. He then says, “Truly I tell you, 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.” (Mt. 17:20)
The disciples were Jewish, and the Jews lived under Roman rule, and the roman ruler who was over Judea when Jesus was born was named Herod the Great. He was a great builder, a great conqueror, and a ruthless leader. Herod was the epitome of power in the region. Herod was someone who literally moved mountains. And yet Jesus reminds his disciples that with even a small faith in him, that they can not only move mountains but that nothing is impossible for them. A faith as small as a tiny seed yielded greater potential than the shadow of the oppressors who lived over them.
When the disciples looked at the Herodium they likely saw what someone could do when they led by power, and fear, and violence. What Jesus wanted to show them is with God the power is so much greater.
1. In what areas of your life have you settled to have small faith?
2. What is the difference between a small faith and great faith?