Faith, Like a Mustard Seed

Mustard seeds have certain distinguishing qualities that separate them from the rest. It is these qualities that Jesus highlights, which are required in our faith and life.


  • Introduction

    Satan’s Pillaging

    .. Disrupts peace

    .. Destroys lives

    .. Renders God’s people powerless

    Disciples’ Powerlessness

    .. Failure to acknowledge failure to Jesus

    Christ’s Patience

    Christ’s Power

Bible Passage

Bible Passages: Matthew 17:19-21; 21:21; Mark 9:28-29; Luke 17:5-6

The parable of the mustard seed

Matthew 17:19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. 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.”


Dr. Ron Charles introduces a powerful real life story behind the mustard seed.

In the area where Jesus stayed there were plenty of limestone hills.

A famous Roman construction engineer in the 1st century BC, Gaius Albanius, while awaiting funds from Pompei the Great to build the docks realized that mustard shrubs were growing very well on these hills and in fact thriving on them. Very few plants could survive here. They drew the lime from the rocks and grew surely and steadfastly.


After many years, the architect heard a rumbling sound while sleeping. He woke up to find that the hill had collapsed and the tree with it. The tree had drawn so much lime, that the composition of the hill changed, and it cracked and fell.

These fallen trees and limestone were excellent material for building construction. The wood in the trees were so well weathered they could last decades without rotting, even under water.

It took years and sometimes decades for the mustard tree to crash the mountain. But after steady growth and sucking the nutrition, these little seeds had a powerful effect on the big hill.

The “mustard seed faith” is therefore not a one day affair but result of years and sometimes decades of perseverance.


Faith in our lives, the transformation caused by Jesus, the word and holy spirit, enables little deeds to cause high impact.

Pioneers have been martyrs, leading saints have been excluded or cast away, yet somehow the kingdom is growing. Their faith has moved mountains. So can we.

Lessons from the Mustard seed


  • Destroys or inhibits anything preventing it’s growth
  • Survives on many environments, but thrives on hard, soil


  • Is constantly sucking in that lime and nutrients for decades
  • Has a huge capacity for growth – smallest seed to biggest tree

Lessons from the Mustard seed


  • Takes decades to move that mountain, but is gradually weakening it
  • Has strong roots
  • Has more power on the external environment as it’s roots grow deeper
  • As it falls with the mountain, it is still useful and lives on as well weathered furniture.
  • It reproduces through seeds, many times over.


The mustard seed has the unique capacity to destroy what hinders it’s growth.

The disciples were struggling over excercising power over evil spirits– Matthew 17:19-21. This was not a one time authority but a lifestyle of faith

Lifestyle of Faith

Dr. Ron Charles says belief may be an action but faith is a lifestyle – a way of living, just like the mustard plant steadily sucks lime out of the limestone.

Uniqueness – Lifestyle of Faith

What was lacking in the disciple’s faith?

They still did not know Jesus fully. They were with him but not connected. Jesus said “this kind can only be driven out with prayer (and fasting – some commentaries)”.

Is it that when demons are presented before us we run to the closet to pray? No. We need to live a lifestyle of prayer – of connectedness to Jesus. That is a lifestyle of faith. Over time the disciples did catch it – just as we can.


 2 Timothy 2:20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.


When the great missionary Amy Carmichael was little, she wondered why she had brown eyes instead of blue as a child. She often prayed for God to change the colour of her eyes to be like those around her.

 Later when she came to India and rescued many young girls under disguise as an Indian, she understood.

Lifestyle of faith

The lifestyle of faith for a believer should consistently play out for years, sometimes decades to truly make impact. – just like the mustard or sycamore tree.

In Luke Jesus gives this example in the context of forgiving 70*7 times. Strength to forgive many times over – Luke 17:4

Perseverance in drawing the right nutrients

The Mustard Seed:

Is constantly sucking in lime and nutrients for decades till it gains power to destroy the mountain


After talking of forgiveness, Jesus refers to the same with respect to a mulberry tree.

In Luke 17:4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

6 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.

Patience in waiting for years or decades for the mountain to disintegrate

When we go to God in prayer we expect instant responses.

We often don’t realize that while the answer may be ready in heaven, God is planning to execute it in a time most suitable for us.

It could take days months or even years.

The mustard seed principle waits for the seed to grow so strong that the impact is “mountain moving”.


Abraham waited decades for his promised child. But during that time, he was growing strong in the faith.

He was the father of faith. His son was born when Abraham’s faith was strong enough to leave a legacy for centuries – right through the Jewish nation and beyond.


  1. What is “faith like a mustard seed” mean to you? Share examples.
  2. What are some hindrances in your personal life from developing this faith?
  3. In what ways have you gained power over the sin in your life and the situations around by faith? Share examples.

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