Luke 17:6 – “If you had faith like a grain of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree (sycamine tree), ‘be uprooted and planted in the sea and it will obey you.’”
People don’t plant trees in the ocean, at least not trees that are designed to live on land. Why? Because the salt water will in effect kill them. It would be a waste of time to plant a tree in the ocean. Yet Jesus talks about planting a mulberry or sycamine tree in the ocean in Luke 17. It is a passage of Scripture that talks about the power of faith. If you just have a little bit of faith…..faith the size of a mustard seed you can do great things. But is that really what this passage is all about? To an extent yes, but I believe there is more.
Words matter, and the words of Scripture matter supremely, so you have to ask the question, why did Jesus talk about something being “planted in the sea”. He could have said “placed in the sea” or even “thrown into the sea”, but He didn’t. He said planted in the sea. Why? Well if you plant something you are going to leave it there most likely. If you place something or throw something you can come back and get it, but if you plant something that is a different story. So Jesus is saying this tree needs to be placed in the sea permanently.
Placing the tree in the sea will kill the tree however so why is Jesus talking about killing a tree. In reality a sycamine tree has very bitter fruit, so bitter in fact that you had to eat it slowly one small bite at a time. Many times it would take a person almost an entire to eat this fruit. It was very common, but not very good. The bitterness was horrific. So why is Jesus saying take this bitter tree and plant it in the ocean? Context is important, He had just taught His disciples about the power of sin, and about forgiving other people, and now He teaches them seemingly about the power of faith. But again that isn’t all He is saying. The sycamine tree was very bitter, and so is unforgiveness, and for that matter so is sin. What Jesus is talking about is taking a hold of bitterness and unforgiveness and sin, through your faith and planting those things in the sea so that they die.
He isn’t talking about Jedi rock moving faith, but instead He is talking about life transformation. Your life will be transformed by your faith. Your faith should take your bitterness and uproot it and plant it out of your life. Your faith should kill your bitterness. But not just kill it, it should uproot it. A sycamine tree has very deep roots and so does bitterness. Bitterness is regret and fear, bitterness is unforgiveness and anxiety and bitterness has deep roots. Bitterness is rooted in sin and in selfishness. Jesus is telling His disciples then and His followers now that your faith should transform you, it should kill the bitterness in your life, but not only your bitterness, it should be uprooted and kill even the roots of sin and selfishness. The grace of God is life transforming. Faith is powerful, so powerful that it changes us from the inside out, permanently for the glory of God.
Do you have regret? Anxiety? Fear? Unforgiveness? Does life have a bitterness to it? Those things are rooted in selfishness and sin, so allow Jesus to transform you, to uproot those things through your faith in Him. Be made different through the grace of God and for the glory of God. Solo dei gloria.