Prepare to Listen. Still your inner noises then pray: Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; give me life in your ways. (Ps 119:37)
Prayerfully Read Luke 17:1-6
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! 2It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. 4And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, “I repent”, you must forgive.’ 5The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ 6The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea”, and it would obey you.
On hearing Jesus’ demands about forgiving and not causing a ‘little one’ (meaning, new believer) to stumble, the disciples were shocked and cried out, “Increase our faith!” I find that surprising. Why ask for more faith? Why not more patience or, even better, more compassion? But then it occurred to me that too often the norm for us humans is to react to a less mature person or a perpetual offender with impatience or violence. How were the disciples to believe that doing it Jesus’ lesser-common way wouldn’t do more harm than good to themselves or to others? They didn’t, of course. Hence the request for more faith.
Jesus’ response to their request is also surprising. The size of one’s faith isn’t the issue. The disciples had to learn that, as Wright remarks, “It’s not great faith you need; it is faith in a great God.” They had some faith, as Jesus hinted: If you have faith..., doesn’t imply doubt. The if, in the Greek has the sense of since.
Uprooting a mulberry tree and planting it in the sea is a figure of speech, not to be taken literally. The mulberry tree could be a refusal to live in a way that doesn’t cause a new believer to stumble or to forgive one who offended but seeks repentance and shows change. Or some other issue that you’re holding onto that is not helpful to your relationship with Jesus. It’s that sort of thing we can ask, with our tiny bit of faith, to be removed and God, in his bigness will act.
What’s the mulberry bush in your life that you can ask to be removed?
Respond to Jesus
Lord, like the disciples I too struggle with faith to live out your demands. Enlarge my vision to see and trust in you, not the size of my faith. Amen.
Live obediently with your faith regardless of size.
 Wright, N. T. Luke for Everyone. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. 2001, p. 204.
I began reading my Bible when I was 8 years old. I loved it then (albeit didn't understand much) and I still love reading and studying it. I may understand a little more but I keep learning new stuff, seeing things I missed for years. This journey with Luke during Lent has been another new learning experience for me, deepening my relationship with Jesus. I pray it will do the same for you.