“Increase our faith” the disciples asked (Luke 17:5). I wonder what they were expecting? A transformative parable or some secret knowledge? Or were they expecting Jesus to just zap them with a suffusion or infusion of faith?

Maybe you’ve found yourself asking the same question because your own faith seems so weak and feeble.

Jesus’ answer is a bit unsettling: “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 17:6). And it wouldn’t surprise me if there was a mulberry tree right there!

Jesus’ answer isn’t ill-considered or unhelpful. It does two important things: firstly it affirms the faith the disciples have – it’s not about ‘how much’, it’s about having that very small mustard-seed sized faith; and secondly he is gently helping them see that they don’t need more faith, they just need to use the faith they have. And it’s the same for us.

Faith isn’t (as a school-boy is reported to have said) “believing what you know ain’t true”, but rather “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see” (Heb 11:1)




How much faith?

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