“You can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea” (Luke 17:6).


That’s the word they use for the roots of the mulberry tree. The roots are so aggressive they can uproot a sidewalk. That’s why Jesus used this figure of speech. Some plants can be easily pulled out of the ground.

Not a mulberry tree.
Once you plant it, you won’t be able to move it easily.

But there is a way it can be moved. You need faith the size of a mustard seed, which was the smallest common seed in the Holy Land. It is only 1-2 millimeters in diameter, meaning it’s about as thick as a credit card.

A tiny bit of faith can uproot a mulberry tree and plant it in the sea. That’s the lesson Jesus gave to his disciples when they said, “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5). In one sense, this is clearly hyperbole. Jesus uses an absurdity to point out the great possibilities of prayer. It’s not as if Jesus is saying, “Peter, you can do this. You can take this mulberry tree and plant it in the Mediterranean Sea.” That’s not the meaning. Peter couldn’t do it, neither could James or John or any of the apostles. It was a total impossibility. But it wasn’t impossible for God! That’s the whole point.

What’s the hardest part about casting a mulberry tree into the sea? Most people would probably answer, “Having faith,” or “Not doubting in your heart.” The hardest part is having the courage to talk to the mulberry tree in the first place. What kind of person looks at a tree and talks to it? If you do that on a regular basis, people will begin to question your sanity. Yet that’s exactly what Jesus tells his disciples they must do.

No prayer offered in faith can ever fail. Sometimes God answers exactly as we have prayed. Often his answers come in a different fashion. The answer may be delayed, or the Lord may substitute something better, or he may give us grace to bear what we asked might be removed from our lives. Yet in all this, God still answers prayer.

God always answers believing prayer. Always!

Are we willing to believe what Jesus said? By yourself, you can never command a mulberry tree to be planted in the sea, but God can. So ask him! Ask him to do what only he can do.

Remember what the angel said to Mary, “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). So let the people of God keep on praying. Claim God’s promises. Say to the mulberry tree, “Be cast into the sea.” Then stand back and see what the Lord will do.

Heavenly Father, give me mulberry faith when I feel like giving up because nothing is impossible with you. Amen.

Musical bonus: Here’s a French carol that dates to the 1830s. Let’s listen as Josh Groban (with Brian McKnight) sings Angels We Have Heard on High.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?