TV shows like Fear Factor play on common fears we have, like the fear of heights or snakes or enclosed spaces. Many of us struggle with such fears. However, more commonly our fears involve things like rejection, financial lack, failing at various endeavours, loss of health, aging, and even death. The reality is most of us are people of little faith. That hurts to say. But I think our experience demonstrates its truth. And in this, we are much like the first disciples. Jesus appears to have made up a new word to describe His disciples. It’s kind of cute but also negative. Four times in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus calls them “Little Faiths.”
In 8:26 they were out on the sea together at night. Waves crashing over the boat. Boat filling up with water . . . and Jesus asleep! Jesus rebuked the sea and then His men for their lack of faith. Particularly unsettling circumstances often lead to fear rather than faith.
Jesus used the name as well in 6:30. Another area in which our faith often gets tested is in the provision of our physical needs. What am I going to eat? What am I going to wear? Where am I going to live? “Little faiths” are consumed with the physical side of living. And rather than trusting, they spend lots of time worrying.
In chapter 14, the disciples were again on the sea at night. This time Jesus was not in the boat, but came walking towards them on the sea. At Jesus’ invitation, Peter stepped out of the boat and began walking on the water. But the text says “when he saw the wind, he was afraid” (v. 30). Here Jesus raised the issue of doubt. “Little faiths” often start well. But instead of keeping their eyes fixed on Jesus, they see their circumstances. And perspective is lost.
Jesus used this name a final time in chapter 16. It’s a humorous passage where He warns against “the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” He was obviously speaking figuratively, telling them to beware of legalistic hypocrisy. Jesus highlights their forgetfulness in His response. He’d just fed 4000 people with 7 loaves of bread and a few small fish, and before that, 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish! Why would the disciples ever be concerned about food?
Major enemies of faith include fear, worry, doubt, and forgetfulness. As painful as it is to say, the reality is that most of us are “Little Faiths.” What we need is a clear vision of Jesus and God the Father. Jesus, the one who is “with us,” is the one to whom all authority has been given. God is a perfect Father who knows everything His children need. Jesus is the one who can walk on water and will help us do whatever it is we need to do. And Jesus has done so much for us and for His church in the past. Can we not trust Him with our present and future?
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