Faith of a mustard seed

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

“But rise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and bear witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from the people and from the Gentiles— to whom I send you to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:16-18). Faith in Acts. This Gospel Writer’s recording of ‘Paul’s own account of his Call’, given as ‘defense’ for release from prison to King Agrippa.

The words used here by (Luke) Paul for ‘rise’ and ‘stand’ are both rooted in the same word: ‘esten’. We have already seen in this study a wholly and completely other word used for ‘rise’ by Jesus in the imperative mood of command when he says to sick and afflicted persons “rise, take up your bed and walk’ as a force of healing power. Here, ‘rise’ and ‘stand’ are synonymous with taking a position in Christ. It is used almost exclusively by Paul in New Testament (Kittle even suggests the word to be coined by Paul); and it stands to reason that it would be new— Paul speaks this word as a direct result of his ‘visionary calling’. Although here it is in the mouth of Jesus, when Paul formulates this word usage in his letters, it is most always in the imperative mood also.

Grundmann has identified one of the rare uses of it in Old Testament as the command that Moses gives to the fleeing Hebrews in their fear for the life and death approach of the Egyptians— “Stand Still and see the salvation of the Lord which he will show you this day”. It is a place where ‘the stand’ established a rooting and grounding in the power of God both present and future. It has the sense of promise and covenant. It has the sense of security and peace. It is an ‘upward movement’, rising— from sitting to standing; from sleeping to consciousness; from fear to courage. It is a stand that not only identifies to all ‘where you stand’, but ‘WHOM you stand with’ and ‘WHO you stand for’! “This standing does not result from secular securities such as health, power, property or connections.” It is based in God on whose promise faith is fixed.

I recall the days of civil rights and one song that expressed this concept most clearly. While moving towards freedom and justice the words arose in song— “Time, o time, o time is winding up. Time, o time, o time is winding up. You see corruption in the land, why don’t the people take a stand. Time is winding up!”

Christ has summoned Paul to ‘rise and stand’ a calling that Paul took to heart as it expressed itself throughout his ministry. He said to the Corinthians: “Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong…” He said to the Galatians: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” He said to the Philippians: “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or are absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” Still again, he said to the Thessalonians: “for now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.”

by email: mustardseedfaith@outlook.com