“The apostles came up and said to the Master, “Give us more faith.” (Luke 17:5)
Beloved reader, I am using The Message translation today because it seemed more clear to what the writer of Luke (and by extension Jesus) was trying to get across. It is a common pray actually – gives us more faith, or increase our faith, or strength our faith. I have prayed this myself. But Jesus cuts across all of that asking for more and implies that what you have should be sufficient.
“But the Master said, “You don’t need more faith. There is no ‘more’ or ‘less’ in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it would do it.” (Verse 6)
I don’t know about you, but my faith is certainly going to make any tree, bush or shrub jump. But then why would some of faith (great or lessor) ask a tree to jump into the lake? I do not think it was meant seriously; the NRSV refers to a mulberry tree and the sea. Jesus (and the writer of Luke) continue on in the lesson.
“Suppose one of you has a servant who comes in from plowing the field or tending the sheep. Would you take his coat, set the table, and say, ‘Sit down and eat’? Wouldn’t you be more likely to say, ‘Prepare dinner; change your clothes and wait table for me until I’ve finished my coffee; then go to the kitchen and have your supper’? Does the servant get special thanks for doing what’s expected of him? It’s the same with you. When you’ve done everything expected of you, be matter-of-fact and say, ‘The work is done. What we were told to do, we did.’” (Verses 7-10)
Faith, it seems, is not about size but doing what is needed and called for. Great faith, or small faith, is not as important as doing the task that is before you. Now, we as participants of this modern world may not appreciate the perspective of what a servant is supposed to do. After all, we have choices & options and do not normally work from sun up to sun down at the beckon & call of another – at least, that is what we tell ourselves. But if we place ourselves in the context of being servant’s of Jesus Christ and the Lord, then the reality of task coming after task might be more appropriate. Remember too that Jesus said his yoke is light and his burden is easy, so it is not as if we are lugging large rocks or boulders, or climbing high mountains, or doing other physically draining tasks for the Lord. (If you do, than I pray that the Lord blesses you and gives you physical endurance.)
For most of us, it is being aware of times and places where we can minister to others – helping a person or a cause, or being instrumental in the mission/ministry the Lord God has called us to. You see, we do not have to have great faith to do what the Lord God has called us to. We just have to do it!
I do not know if the disciples understood what Jesus was trying to teach them. I would safely guess that the writer of Luke did. And I hope, beloved reader, that you have too! Selah!