5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. Luke 17:5–6 (NAS)
Practicing the Christian faith is no cake walk. Rebuking and forgiving are advanced tasks carried out only in the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 17:4).
Even so, the weighty burden to pull off Christ’s teachings was beginning to cause the apostles’ shoulders to sag. Thus the exclamation from them, “Increase our faith!”
With a modicum of faith, Jesus said, say as small as the tiniest of seeds, the mustard seed, his men could uproot and levitate a thirty-five foot mulberry tree and drop it into the nearby Sea of Galilee.
Again, a mind-boggling reply to a seemingly simple request. But it was genius, of course. Who is faced with such a daunting task? Most of us are worried about finishing a tough project, a couple of incorrigible kids, or stretching a paycheck. Jesus argues from the lesser to the greater in this instance, knowing full well our trials and tribulations require less “heavy lifting,” but nonetheless, a full measure of faith.
The logical argument normally put forth, often by Paul, was from the greater to the lesser. For example, Romans 8:31–32.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
It seems easier to follow Paul’s logic, although tossing the mulberry tree in the sea is actually far less of a challenge to God (in theory) than delivering up one’s own Son as a sacrifice for our sins.