I want to take a closer look at mustard seed faith. We see this in Luke and also in Matthew, referring to having faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). What caught my eye when I read this was, why did the Lord relate faith to a mustard seed and why did he relate our obstacles to a mulberry tree? Let’s take a look.
First of all, let’s look at the mustard seed. One of the smallest seeds on the planet is a mustard seed. It’s very tiny but can grow to great heights. The mustard seed referred to in Scripture is that of “black mustard.” This particular type of mustard plant can grow between 4 and 15 feet tall! All from one very tiny seed. A seed you would never expect to produce that kind of crop. Your faith may not be between 4 and 15 feet tall, so to speak, but I can guarantee you have at least mustard seed faith; just that little bit can uproot trees and move mountains. We are always worrying as Christians about whether or not we have enough faith when God says faith even as small as a mustard seed will do the job. I can promise if you start with mustard seed faith, before you know it, you will have faith so strong and so tall it will amaze you that great faith of that size grew out of such a small seed.
Next, let’s take a look at the mulberry tree, or some translations say a sycamine tree. Some relate the sycamine tree to the sycamore tree but they are two different trees. The sycamine tree is also known as a mulberry tree and produces fig like fruit. So, why did the Lord choose to use the mulberry tree in this lesson? Some say he used the mulberry tree because he was probably standing by one as he addressed these words to his disciples, but I think there’s more to it than just that. The mulberry tree is slow growing but can attain a large size and have stretching deep roots so that it would require strong force to pluck it up by the root. It can grow to the height of 30 feet. It is generally planted by the wayside (the side of or land adjacent to a road or path), in the open space where several paths meet. It bears several crops of figs during the year. It doesn’t take much to plant one, just a stout branch in the ground, and watering it until it has struck its roots into the soil. It does this rapidly and to a vast depth. This tree when fully grown has ample girth, wide-spread arms, enormous roots that are thick, numerous and wide-spread into the deep soil below. Lightning can hit it, a tornado may demolish it but it takes nothing short of a miracle to pluck it up by the roots (information courtesy of Barnes’ Notes Commentary).
Seems to me that the characteristics of a mulberry tree represent, quite well, the characteristics of some of the obstacles we face in life. I find it fitting that a mulberry tree is generally planted by the wayside (just off of the path), in the open space where several paths meet. I would dare say that most of the obstacles you face come when you feel like you’re by the wayside, in the open space, facing several paths. This is where the enemy loves to plant obstacles of discouragement, confusion, and defeat. Those obstacles can start out as “stout branches” but can grow rapidly with deep roots if we keep feeding them. If you only had a mustard seed, that’s all it takes to uproot it!
So, got any mustard seed? The smallest of faith can completely uproot the worst of situations in your life. It won’t just cut it off and leave the roots tangled around your life with the chance of growing back; it will completely rip every root out of the ground and remove it from your pathway!