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Faith of A Mustard Seed

by Barbara Woods-Washington

Barbara Woods Washington

Barbara Woods-Washington, M. Div.

‘I woke up this morning, I didn’t have no doubt!  No doubt, no doubt, I didn’t have no doubt!’  “Have Faith in God. … do not doubt in your heart, but believe that you receive…”  Again with ‘The Meaning Of The Withered Fig Tree’ Mark’s 5th and final occurrence of Jesus’ use of  ‘Faith’ (Mark 11:20-25).

It must not go unnoticed that ‘pisteuete’ used by Jesus here for ‘believe’ is our root word pistis/faith.  This gives us, in fact, two different word translations for Jesus’ double usage of ‘pist-‘ in Mark’s ‘The Meaning Of The Withered Fig Tree’.   Although we have always somehow known the equivalency of the words faith and believe, here is the now to look closer.

Both active and passive are the senses of faith=belief (pist-) derivatives in Classical Greek.  ‘Trusting’ -‘worthy of trust’; ‘obedient’ -‘obey’; ‘reliable’ -‘rely’; ‘certainty’; ‘fidelity’; ‘confidence’; ‘assurance’; ‘conviction’; ‘dependable truth’; ‘firm belief’; ‘guarantee’; ‘security’; ‘contractual relation’ are all among the various meanings given in it’s usage.  Although it never reaches the religious realm, several of the great Philosophers identify faith=belief as “a higher endowment than wealth”.

Faith as a religious concept was promoted in Hellenism as the various missionaries identified their deities and demanded faith in them.  In this mix, standing strong in a long religious Old Testament heritage for which faith is seen as a ‘contractual fear/trust relation to God’, Jesus emerges with the deity clearly identified— “Have Faith in God!  Believe in God!”

There is a very clear and present danger in this ‘Pandemic’ which has taken a kind of ‘Rule’ over everyday life in this nation.  One thing that I am certain about is the way the ‘Rulers’… the powers and principalities of this society have learned the practice of ‘controlling the narrative’!  The running of numbers… DAILY; driving the dictatives and MANdates of death attributed to this ‘virus’… or not?  The control and removal of the ‘faith based voice’ which spoke and taught the moral and ethical narratives of broken value systems… sending these systems in total and complete chaos.  A narrative in place that no longer has ultimate concern for “Faith in God” NOR Fear of God; but a new force of fear… in disease.

Notwithstanding Jesus’ foreknowledge of ‘Peter’s  Denial’, what a powerful ‘last will and testament’ to give the disciple whom he loved.  Although Peter was distracted by the withered fig tree, Jesus pricks his consciousness by calling his immediate attention to God— “Have Faith in God!  Believe in God!”  By the double usage, Jesus goes beyond hearing— ‘Peter’s ears’ and moves this saying to ‘his mind’— think on this thing— “Have Faith in God!  Believe in God!”  Had this saying reached ‘Peter’s Heart’ (as in John’s Gospel where He finally had to say to Peter 3 times— “if you love me, feed my sheep!), the Denial and the return to Fishing might not have come.

I remember with warmth the look on my grandmother’s face when she sang this song— “Only believe.  Only believe.  All things are possible, only believe.”  I can still feel the power in the affirmation of faith sung in this verse as it took the singing worshiper to a whole other level— “Lord, I believe.   “Lord, I believe.   All things are possible, Lord, I believe”.

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