ne of Jesus favorite ways of illustrating faith was with the mustard seed. He always uses this smallest of seeds to show how big things can come from small beginnings.
He was asked, What is the Kingdom of God like? And he responded, The Kingdom is like a grain of mustard seed, that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches. (Lk. 13: 19, NRSV).
Another time Jesus
had healed a boy of epilepsy and the Apostles asked why they too could
not perform such miracles and Jesus said, Because of your little
faith (or lack of faith). For truly I tell you, if you have faith the
Then in our lectionary
reading for today we Jesus saying that Occasions for stumbling
are bound to come... but when another disciple sins, you must rebuke
the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the
We still recoil
when we hear that we too are required to forgive those who repent of
their lying, cheating and even adultery, and then ask for our forgiveness.
We too would rather condemn the sinner and write him/her off.
Frank Boggs brought
me a wonderful story this week that uniquely illustrates this point.
Several of his Atlanta friends have substantiated it, but it has not
made the media, so we cant be sure if it is really true ;-)
is director of womens prayer and study groups at a neighbor church.
She was at a ladies meeting where every other person had on a club blazer
with a club emblem on the pocket. Jane graciously spoke to her
The greater question is, will the many who still deride her as Hanoi Jane be able to forgive. Thirty five years ago as a young woman she went to North Vietnam during the war, and we still hear folks proclaiming, I will never forgive her! But, Jesus plainly says that we must. Indeed, in Matthew 6: 15 Jesus says, ...if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
the key that unlocks to door to restored relationships between us and
God, and between us and others. Forgiveness could calm the storms in
your home. It could enable folks to work together at the office.
Jesus is saying that mustard seed sized faith is the beginning of our ability to both receive and extend forgiveness. Forgiveness could make your world new. It could fill that big empty hole in your heart.
A tiny amount of
simple childlike faith is all it takes to get started, but as with a
seed that is planted, it take sunshine, rain and most of all time for
the seed to germinate and grow up to become a 35 foot tall mustard
Do we really want Jesus to Increase our faith!; or, do we think that such notions are the signs of weakness? Hey, If we start taking this religious think really seriously, we might end up giving chunks of our money away, or volunteering our time, or forgiving folks whom we have judged as unforgivable. Christ likeness might remold the tough character that we have been trying so desperately been attempting to act out on the worlds stage. Our secular foundations might begin to crumble. Faith might destroy us!
Maybe this is why
Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, follows up his radical call to forgive
or not be forgiven with, Do not worry about your life, what you
will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you
And it all begins with a tiny mustard seed size faith. Dare we plant it in the ground?
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor