Updated: Oct 6, 2021
Great Faith and Little Faith. In full disclosure, I am writing about faith, but not because of my own faith. I write about faith because of Jesus, the object of my faith. I am faithless. I stumble in faith. I am one of little faith or no faith more often than possessing any semblance of great faith. Yet, because of Jesus and His Father, we, the righteous, are called to live by faith. This is not a belief in God because we know and see what He is doing but is this very trust in Him when we do not see what He is doing (Hebrews 11:1). Matthew explains further that great faith in God is rooted in the truth that God cares about us.
Matthew 8 records several interactions of Jesus with people regarding this subject of faith. Some falter with little faith and some surprise with great faith. The truly amazing part is that Jesus is continually faithful regardless of little or great faith. In verses 1-4 we see a leper approach Jesus with incredible faith. Leprosy was a death sentence in so many ways, not the least of which is physical death. Yet, this castaway approaches Jesus (this took faith), spoke to Jesus (this took faith), and dared infer, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean” (this loudly proclaimed faith). Jesus responded, “I will; be clean.” This causes me to pause and consider I truly believe that God is able to do what He wills.
A Centurion (vs. 5-13) then approaches Jesus (a non-Jew approaching a Jewish Rabbi required faith). This took faith because of the ridicule he would receive from his peers and the potential rejection from the Jews for speaking to Jesus. In faith, he believed Jesus would care so he spoke to Jesus about his servant who was paralyzed, at home, and suffering. Jesus responds by saying that He will come to his house, but the centurion humbly says that he is unworthy to have Jesus in his home. The centurion, in faith, says to Jesus, “Only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Jesus marvels at his faith and says that in all of Israel He has not seen such faith. Jesus responds, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment. This causes me to pause and consider how much I have missed out on because I lack belief in what God can do.
In verses 23-27, Matthew gives the account of he and the disciples being on the sea of Galilee when a huge storm arose. He records that the boat was being swamped by the waves. The disciples, several who were experts on the sea, feared for their life. Jesus was asleep on the boat during the storm. The disciples woke Jesus crying out, “Save us Lord; we are perishing” (this did take faith to wake Jesus). Jesus responds, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith.” The contrast is quite clear, the leper boldly asks Jesus to heal him if Jesus wills. The leper has great confidence in Jesus and His power. The centurion is so trusting in Jesus, that He believes that if Jesus will just say the word that His servant will be healed even from a great distance. The disciples do act in faith by waking Jesus, but their fear is greater than their faith. They did not have confidence that Jesus cared about them and therefore their fear of their circumstances ruled their hearts. This causes me to pause and consider how often I question God’s interest in my well-being resulting in little faith in Him.
Jesus does speak and calm the sea. This disciples marvel that the winds and sea obey Him. Jesus marvels at great faith (vs. 10), but the disciples marvel when Jesus does great deeds (vs. 27). The first two men have faith in who Jesus is. He is a man of compassion that has the power to heal. The disciples doubted Jesus’ compassion (Mark 4:38) and therefore questioned if He would act for their perceived good. Faith begins with the trust that God does care for us and as a result He will act on our behalf. Do we believe that He cares about us? When we do believe that He does care for us, our faith in Him will shift from little faith to greater faith. This causes me to pause and consider if my faith is small because my belief in His care for me is small.