“I tell you the truth, 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.” Matthew 17:20
How much faith do you have? Maybe the better question is how much faith do you need? According to Jesus’ words in our key verse, even the tiniest seed of faith can accomplish the impossible. A mustard seed is one of the smallest agricultural seeds, about 1-2 mm in size. That seems manageable doesn’t it? So why, I wonder, am I not seeing the great acts of faith that Jesus said I would be able to do? I’ve pondered that question a lot, and I’d like to share with you what I’ve discovered in God’s Word, from two different accounts.
Take a moment, please, to read Matthew 14:25-29. This is the familiar account of Jesus walking on the water and Peter coming out on the water to meet Him. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but walking on water – at least for the non-divine – is not the norm. In fact we would call it impossible. Yet, there Peter is, one foot in front of the other, walking out on the water to Jesus. We know the rest of the story: Peter took his eyes of Jesus and began to sink, yet for our focus today I want to keep this fisherman turned preacher on his feet and doing what cannot be done. Surely, in his many days of fishing he has jumped out of the boat and into the water, never expecting it to hold him atop the waves. What is different about this time? Let’s freeze-frame here for a moment, and look at another example of faith, in the verses preceding this event.
Please back up in your reading and look at Matthew 14:15-21. You will also recognize the account of Jesus feeding the five thousand (that’s just the men, not counting the women and children). As they survey the scene, Jesus and the disciples see a sea of hungry people with no provision for food. Except – one little boy with one little lunch – five loaves of bread and three fishes. For five thousand plus people. John 6 records this same event, and adds Andrew’s comments: “but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9). Yet the little boy gave up his meager lunch and placed it in Jesus’s divine hands, and as He blessed it, He broke it. And broke it. And broke it. And broke it. And thousands of people were fed, “as much as they wanted” (John 6:11). Not a sample, not a little snack, but full tummies all around. And as if that weren’t miracle enough, the disciples filled twelve baskets with the left-overs! Freeze-frame again as the disciples pass through the mass of people, dipping their hand into a basket that never ran out.
Bring these two images together and let’s consider what they are telling us. Peter walked on water. A meager lunch fed thousands of people. What is the connection? Faith. Faith in Jesus to accomplish the impossible with the limitations of nature – water vs. weight vs. mass. Faith to accomplish the impossible with the smallest offering in the face of great need. It was faith in Jesus that made Peter swing his legs over the side of that boat. It was faith in Jesus that led a little boy to give up the only food he had to the Teacher. Without faith Peter sits in the boat and wonders “what if?” Without faith, one little boy has a full tummy, thousands of people go hungry and the miraculous work of Jesus goes unfulfilled. Peter could have “logically’ reasoned that the water could not hold him up. The little boy could have kept his lunch to himself, after all, “That’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this” (John 6:9-The Message).
What are we afraid of? That the water won’t hold? That the little we have won’t be enough? He honors and esteems our faith. Will you hold on to the meager things, thinking it’s best to keep what little you have than lose it? Will I decide that the risk of failure outweighs the call of God? I’m preaching to myself right now. What am I afraid of? That Jesus will let me down, let me sink, leave me hungry? That I will be embarrassed by stepping out in faith and failing? That’s not my Jesus.
You see, by definition faith is more than warm thoughts; faith is a belief and a confidence that leads to action. I want to be a woman of faith. I want to step out of the safe confines of the boat; I want to give to Jesus the little I have and trust Him to not only provide everything I need, but to work a wonder and spread what I offer out to bless many more. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ said, “God does not require you to have great faith. You simply are to have faith in a great God.”
Will you join me in the water? Will you also give your meager offerings to the Master? Are you and I ready for what Jesus will do when we abandon ourselves to Him in faith?
Holy, mighty, wonderful God – like the father who brought him child to Jesus, “I believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Give me faith to step out and step up. Amen.