The mustard seed (Lk 17:6-17:6)

“The Lord replied.

‘If you had faith

The size of

A mustard seed,

You could say

To this mulberry tree,

‘Be rooted up!

Be planted

In the sea!’’

It would obey you.’”

 

εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Κύριος Εἰ ἔχετε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως, ἐλέγετε ἂν τῇ συκαμίνῳ ταύτῃ Ἐκριζώθητι καὶ φυτεύθητι ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ· καὶ ὑπήκουσεν ἂν ὑμῖν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus, the Lord, replied (εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Κύριος) that if they had faith (Εἰ ἔχετε πίστιν) the size of a mustard seed (ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως), they could say (ἐλέγετε) to this mulberry or sycamore tree (ἂν τῇ συκαμίνῳ ταύτῃ), be rooted up (Ἐκριζώθητι) and planted in the sea (καὶ φυτεύθητι ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ).  Luke is the only biblical writer to use the Greek term συκαμίνῳ that means a black mulberry tree or a sycamore tree that had medicinal value.  Then this tree would obey them (καὶ ὑπήκουσεν ἂν ὑμῖν).  There are expanded faith sayings that can also be found in Mark, chapter 9:28-29, and Matthew, chapter 17:19-21, who are much closer to each other.  Matthew indicated that the disciples came to Jesus privately (Τότε προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ τῷ Ἰησοῦ).  They wondered why they were not able to cast out the evil spirits from that boy (κατ’ ἰδίαν εἶπον Διὰ τί ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό).  Jesus reminded them (ὁ δὲ λέγει αὐτοῖς) of their little faith (Διὰ τὴν ὀλιγοπιστίαν ὑμῶν), a term used predominately by Matthew.  Jesus came back with a solemn pronouncement (ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν) that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed (ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως), like here in Luke, they could move mountains from here to there (ἐρεῖτε τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ Μετάβα ἔνθεν ἐκεῖ, καὶ μεταβήσεται).  Nothing would be impossible for them (καὶ οὐδὲν ἀδυνατήσει ὑμῖν).  If they had faith with prayer and fasting (εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ καὶ νηστείᾳ), they would be able to cast the evil spirits out (τοῦτο δὲ τὸ γένος οὐκ ἐκπορεύεται).  Matthew continued to emphasize the lack of faith or the little faith of the disciples of Jesus.  Mark said that the disciples wondered why they were not able to cast out the evil spirit from that boy (Ὅτι ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό).  The disciples were concerned that they must have lacked something that made it impossible for them to get rid of this evil spirit that was in that boy.  Mark added the need for prayer.  There was no emphasis on faith as in Matthew, where Jesus talked about faith and the mustard seed.  Mark emphasized prayer, as he indicated that Jesus said that this kind of evil spirit could only be expelled (Τοῦτο τὸ γένος ἐν οὐδενὶ δύναται ἐξελθεῖν) through prayer (εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ).  Prayer might imply faith, but it is not explicit here in Luke.  Which is more important to you, faith or prayer?

Jesus calms the sea (Lk 8:24-8:24)

“They went

To Jesus.

They woke him up.

Shouting.

‘Master!

Master!

We are perishing!’

Jesus woke up.

He rebuked the wind

And the raging waves.

They ceased.

So that

There was a calm.”

 

προσελθόντες δὲ διήγειραν αὐτὸν λέγοντες Ἐπιστάτα ἐπιστάτα, ἀπολλύμεθα. ὁ δὲ διεγερθεὶς ἐπετίμησεν τῷ ἀνέμῳ καὶ τῷ κλύδωνι τοῦ ὕδατος· καὶ ἐπαύσαντο, καὶ ἐγένετο γαλήνη.

 

Luke said that the disciples went to Jesus (προσελθόντες).  They woke him up (δὲ διήγειραν αὐτὸν), shouting at him (λέγοντες) “Master (Ἐπιστάτα)!  Master (Ἐπιστάτα)!  We are perishing (ἀπολλύμεθα)!”  Jesus then woke up (ὁ δὲ διεγερθεὶς).  He rebuked (ἐπετίμησεν) the wind (τῷ ἀνέμῳ) and the raging water waves (καὶ τῷ κλύδωνι τοῦ ὕδατος), so that they ceased (καὶ ἐπαύσαντο).  Finally, there was a calm sea (καὶ ἐγένετο γαλήνη).  This waking of Jesus and calming the waters can be found in Matthew, chapter 8:25-26, and Mark chapter 4:38-39, in a somewhat similar fashion.  Matthew said that these disciples went to wake up Jesus.  They cried out to him calling him “the Lord (Κύριε)”.  They wanted to be saved or rescued, because they were dying or facing certain death.  They were definitely afraid and scared.  After waking up, Jesus then turned to his followers and asked them why they were afraid.  Was it because they had little faith?  The unfaithful “ὀλιγόπιστοι” was a favorite word of Matthew.  Then Jesus got up.  He then rebuked or admonished the winds and the sea itself, so that there was a great calm in the air and on the sea.  Jesus called out his disciples for their lack of faith or trust, while showing his great power.  Mark was not as frantic, but he had more details.  He said that Jesus was in the stern or the back of the boat, sleeping on a cushion.  The disciples woke up Jesus as Mark said that they called Jesus “Teacher (Διδάσκαλε).”  They said that Jesus did not care if they were perishing, or facing certain death.  They were definitely afraid and scared.  Notice that they did not call Jesus “Lord, Κύριε” as in Matthew, but rather “Teacher, Διδάσκαλε.”  Mark said that after Jesus woke up, he then rebuked or admonished the wind.  Then he spoke to the sea itself, as he told the sea to be silent, peaceful, and still   Thus, the wind abated or was still.  There was a great calmness in the sea.  Do you believe that God controls the wind and the sea?

Do you not understand? (Mk 8:17-8:17)

“Jesus became aware

Of this.

He said to them.

‘Why are you talking

About not having

Any bread?

Do you still not

Perceive

Or understand?

Are your hearts

Hardened?’”

 

καὶ γνοὺς λέγει αὐτοῖς Τί διαλογίζεσθε ὅτι ἄρτους οὐκ ἔχετε; οὔπω νοεῖτε οὐδὲ συνίετε; πεπωρωμένην ἔχετε τὴν καρδίαν ὑμῶν;

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 16:8.  However, this reprimand is much sharper.  Jesus became aware or knew of their discussions (καὶ γνοὺς).  He asked them (λέγει αὐτοῖς) why were they worried, talking, or debating (Τί διαλογίζεσθε) about not having any bread (ὅτι ἄρτους οὐκ ἔχετε)?  Jesus wanted to know if they still did not perceive (οὔπω νοεῖτε) or understand (οὐδὲ συνίετε) because of their hardened hearts (πεπωρωμένην ἔχετε τὴν καρδίαν ὑμῶν).  These disciples were missing the point about Jesus, since he would provide nourishment for them.  Instead of calling them men of little faith, as Matthew did, Mark implies that Jesus seemed to indicate that they were stupid with hard hearts.

Why were the disciples unable to heal the epileptic? (Mt 17:19-17:20)

“Then the disciples

Came to Jesus privately.

They said.

‘Why could we not cast it out?’

He said to them.

‘Because of your little faith.

Truly!

I say to you!

If you have faith

The size of a mustard seed,

You will say to this mountain.

‘Move from here to there.’

Then it will move.

Nothing will be impossible

For you.’”

 

Τότε προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ τῷ Ἰησοῦ κατ’ ἰδίαν εἶπον Διὰ τί ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό;

ὁ δὲ λέγει αὐτοῖς Διὰ τὴν ὀλιγοπιστίαν ὑμῶν· ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως, ἐρεῖτε τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ Μετάβα ἔνθεν ἐκεῖ, καὶ μεταβήσεται, καὶ οὐδὲν ἀδυνατήσει ὑμῖν.

τοῦτο δὲ τὸ γένος οὐκ ἐκπορεύεται εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ καὶ νηστείᾳ.

 

This faith saying can also be found in Mark, chapter 9:28-29.  However, he added the need for prayer, as in the variant Orthodox texts that mentioned fasting also.  The disciples came to Jesus privately (Τότε προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ τῷ Ἰησοῦ).  They wondered why they were not able to cast out the evil spirits from that boy (κατ’ ἰδίαν εἶπον Διὰ τί ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό).  Jesus reminded them (ὁ δὲ λέγει αὐτοῖς) of their little faith (Διὰ τὴν ὀλιγοπιστίαν ὑμῶν), a term used predominately by Matthew.  Jesus came back with a solemn pronouncement (ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν) that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed (ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως), they could move mountains from here to there (ἐρεῖτε τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ Μετάβα ἔνθεν ἐκεῖ, καὶ μεταβήσεται).  Nothing would be impossible for them (καὶ οὐδὲν ἀδυνατήσει ὑμῖν).  If they had faith with prayer and fasting (εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ καὶ νηστείᾳ), they would be able to cast the evil spirits out (τοῦτο δὲ τὸ γένος οὐκ ἐκπορεύεται).  Matthew continued to emphasize the lack of faith or the little faith of the disciples of Jesus.

Jesus reprimands his disciples for their lack of faith (Mt 16:8-16:8)

“Becoming aware of it,

Jesus said.

‘You of little faith!

Why are you talking

Among yourselves

About not having

Any bread?’”

 

γνοὺς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν Τί διαλογίζεσθε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς, ὀλιγόπιστοι, ὅτι ἄρτους οὐκ ἔχετε;

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 8:17, where the reprimand is much sharper.  Jesus became aware of their discussions (γνοὺς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς).  He reprimanded them by calling them men of little faith (ὀλιγόπιστοι).  This word “ὀλιγόπιστοι” was a favorite of Matthew, since 5 of the 6 times it appears in the New Testament literature, Matthew used it.  Why were they worried, talking, or debating among themselves (εἶπεν Τί διαλογίζεσθε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς) about not having any bread (ἄρτους οὐκ ἔχετε)?  The disciples were missing the point about Jesus, since he would provide nourishment for them.

Jesus saves Peter (Mt 14:31-14:31)

“Jesus immediately reached out

His hand.

He caught him.

He said to him.

‘You of little faith!

Why did you doubt?’”

 

εὐθέως δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα ἐπελάβετο αὐτοῦ καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ Ὀλιγόπιστε, εἰς τί ἐδίστασας;

 

This section about Peter is unique to Matthew, as he tended to emphasize the importance of Peter, yet at the same time, there was a continual mention of the lack of Peter’s faith.  After Peter cried out for help, Jesus immediately reached out his hand (εὐθέως δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα) and caught or grabbed Peter before he fell into the water (ἐπελάβετο αὐτοῦ).  He said to him (καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ).  Why did he have so little faith (Ὀλιγόπιστε,)?  Why did he doubt or hesitate (εἰς τί ἐδίστασας) when he was already walking?  Thus, even the leader of his disciples, Peter, was not so sure of his confidence in Jesus.

The response of Jesus (Mt 8:26-8:26)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Why are you afraid?

You of little faith!’

Then he got up.

He rebuked the winds.

He rebuked the sea.

There was a great calm.”

 

καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς Τί δειλοί ἐστε, ὀλιγόπιστοι; τότε ἐγερθεὶς ἐπετίμησεν τοῖς ἀνέμοις καὶ τῇ θαλάσσῃ, καὶ ἐγένετο γαλήνη μεγάλη.

 

This response of Jesus can be found in Mark, chapter 4:39-40, and Luke, chapter 8:24-25, somewhat similar.  After waking up, Jesus then turned to his followers and asked them (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς) why they were afraid (Τί δειλοί ἐστε).  Was it because they had little faith (ὀλιγόπιστοι)?  The unfaithful “ὀλιγόπιστοι” was a favorite word of Matthew.  Then Jesus got up (τότε ἐγερθεὶς).  He then rebuked or admonished (ἐπετίμησεν) the winds (τοῖς ἀνέμοις) and the sea itself (καὶ τῇ θαλάσσῃ), so that there was a great calm in the air on the sea (καὶ ἐγένετο γαλήνη μεγάλη).  Jesus called out his disciples for their lack of faith or trust, while showing his great power.