Matthew 17: 17, 20 -Answering Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati

If Jesus can purify people, why did not His disciples have faith of a mustard seed?


Those sentences which are colored in orange are from Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati book Satyarth Prakash (The Light of Truth) and those which are colored in black are Jerry Thomas’s response.

"O ye faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him hither to me. For verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place: and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." (17:17, 20)’

C. The Christians go about preaching: "Come, embrace our religion, get your sins forgiven and be saved." All this is untrue, since had Christ possessed the power of having sins remitted, instilling faith in others and purifying them, why would he have not freed his disciples from sin, made them faithful and pure. When he could not make those who went about him pure, faithful and sinless, how could he now, that no one knows where he is, purify anyone?

Now disciples of Christ were destitute of as much as faith as a grain of mustard seed and it is they that wrote the Bible, how could then such a book be held as an authority. Those who seek happiness should not believe in the works of the faithless, impure (at heart) and the unrighteous. It also proves that if the word of Christ be held to be true, not Christian possesses as much faith as a grain of mustard. If a Christian should say that he possessed it more or less, let him then be asked to remove a mountain from one place to another. Even if he succeeded in doing it, he could not be said to possess perfect faith but only about as much as a grain of mustard. On the contrary, if he did not succeed, he was then destitute even of an atom of faith or righteousness. If anyone were to say that all this is allegorical and the word mountain stands for pride and other evil qualities of the mind, it cannot be right, as raising the dead, curing the blind, and lepers and those possessed of devils could also be allegorical. Christ raising of the dead, etc., may mean curing the lazy of their laziness, curing the blind, dispelling the ignorance of the mentally blind, the licentious of licentiousness and the superstitions of those who were superstitious.
Even this interpretation would not hold water, since had this been the case, why would he have not been able to cure his disciples of their faithfulness, ignorance, etc.? Hence Christ betrays his ignorance by saying such impossible things. Had Christ possessed even a little knowledge, why would he have talked such nonsense like a savage. However as it has been said, "In a country where no trees are seen to grow, even the castor oil plant is considered to be the biggest and the best tree" in like manner in a country where none but the most ignorant lived, Christ was rightly considered a great man but Christ can be of no count among the learned and wise men of the present day.


Answer: Though Maharishi has yet again proved that he had not understood the Christian doctrine, that ignorance does not stop him from being a critic.

The Biblical faith does not teach that the moment a person accepts LORD Jesus Christ; he becomes perfect and faultless in his character.

It rather says that the person is justified in the legal sense due to the righteousness of LORD Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”  Then it exhorts to lead a righteousness life now no longer due to the fear of punishment but due to the love of God.

Romans 6:4-13 “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be [in the likeness] of [His] resurrection,  knowing this, that our old man was crucified with [Him], that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  For he who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,  knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.  For [the death] that He died, He died to sin once for all; but [the life] that He lives, He lives to God.  Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.  And do not present your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness to God.”

It further promises that we will be glorified and made perfect at the appearance of LORD Jesus Christ.

Romans 8: 16-17  “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with [Him], that we may also be glorified together.”

Therefore it is evident that Maharishi never understood the Christian doctrine of salvation.

We shall now consider the “mustard seed faith.”

In the immediate context, this verse does not look like speaking about the size of faith rather than having faith itself.

Matthew 17:19-20 “Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?"  So Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

For example, when LORD Jesus Christ taught about consistent forgiveness, disciples asked LORD Jesus to increase their faith. Again, the LORD Jesus Christ told them to have faith like the mustard seed and went on to explain about a servant who unwaveringly and without complain serves the master.

Luke 17:1-10 “Then He said to the disciples, "It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!  It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him.” And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."  So the Lord said, "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.  And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and sit down to eat'?  But will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink'? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.' "   

Unwavering commitment, consistency etc are the values that we get from these contexts. How does it fit with the mustard seed? One of the features of the mustard seed is that it can grow in any type of soil.

It may not have been size of the faith that LORD Jesus Christ was referring to but to the nature of mustard seed to grow in any soil. 

In fact, Apostles themselves appears to have understood the mustard seed faith which remove mountains as “all faith” rather than small faith. In other words, they understood it as the nature of faith.

1 Corinthians 13: 2 “though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains.”

Therefore, Maharishi’s questions based on the assumption of the size of faith rather than the nature of faith are irrelevant.     

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