“The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “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.“ (Luke 17:5-6, NIV)
We just love that verse, don’t we?! The disciples utter a beautiful prayer to Jesus: “Increase our faith!” And Jesus’ response to them is very encouraging: With God’s power and just a mustard seed of faith, we can do the impossible! I read this and think: “A mustard seed…I can scrounge up that much faith!”
It makes you want to change the spelling of impossible to “I’m Possible!” Joel Osteen would be so proud!
But do you know what the impossible context of Jesus’ teaching is? Or do you know why the disciples ask to have their faith increased? Here’s the context from the previous verses: “So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”” (Luke 17:3-4, NIV)
You read that right! Jesus tells the disciples that forgiving people is on the same level of difficulty as uprooting a mulberry tree and flinging it into the ocean! Forgiving people requires faith that God will take care of you. It seems an impossible command, but it isn’t. You may have to pray for God to increase your faith. You may only have a mustard seed’s worth…but apparently that’s enough!
By the way – as a side note – this is a perfect example of why you can trust the Bible and know that it’s true. If Jesus taught us that forgiving some Jack-Wagon who hurts us 7 times a day were easy, you’d never believe anything else that came from his mouth, would you? But Jesus doesn’t say it’s easy. In fact, he says it’s about as hard as teleporting a tree to the sea.
But it’s possible. And it’s a command. We’ll be talking about the spiritual discipline of forgiveness this Sunday. I hope you’ll join us!