The disciples frequently don’t quite get it in the gospels. They bumble around and get close to the truth, but often they are just off base. So much so, that our walk with Jesus tends to mirror their walk with Jesus. But here they get it! Kind of like when they realize they should ask Jesus to teach them to pray, here they realize they should ask for faith. That’s right up there on the list of things it seems like a good idea to ask Jesus about, and if we had some time to think about it, maybe it’s what we would come up with also.
Jesus responds to their request by reminding them about the mustard seed. There are lots of ways to read this analogy, and I think Jesus probably meant to explain more than one concept by using the mustard seed saying. The one that struck me today was that the mustard seed is a part of God’s creation. It is provided for by God and relies upon God for growth. In some ways the mustard seed has remarkable faith. To start anything new, to begin growth is a sign of faith. How much more then should the disciples have faith? They are creatures especially beloved by God. Surely they have more faith than the mustard seed. Certainly there is some admonishment of the disciples going on in this analogy, but I think the analogy is also a word of hope and encouragement.
Which brings us to the second section of the reading this week. How should we handle the parable of the servant? Once again, I think Jesus’ words offer rich depth, and to presume they mean only one specific thing would be a mistake. As I consider them in light of the mustard seed, I am drawn to the idea that the disciples already have this faith within themselves that they want Jesus to give them, but they don’t know how to access it and they don’t even fully realize that it is there. Jesus’ instructions are straight forward: be the servant that you are. Each of us is a servant of God. We see from Jesus example that being a servant is a powerful way to connect with the Father, and live a life of incredible faith. Serving opens up channels of faith many of us never realized were there.