In chapter five of my book Who Told You That You Were Naked? A Refreshing Reexamination of the Garden of Eden, I address the subject of faith by comparing little-faith with real faith. If you haven’t read my book yet, you can download a free copy at www.WhoToldYouThatYouWereNaked.biz. Or you can purchase a paperback edition from any book store or online outlet.
Jesus coined a single word “little-faiths” during the Sermon on the Mount. The word is not found in secular Greek literature and rarely outside of Matthew and Luke. Unfortunately, it has been translated as “you of little faith” implying that Jesus was chiding his listeners for not having enough faith which is an erroneous interpretation as I point out in the book.
The second time when Jesus used this word, He was in a boat crossing lake Galilee (Matt 8:18, 23-27). You know the account: Huge crowds continue to follow them. So, after healing a large number, He commanded His disciples to depart for the other side of the lake. He must have been exhausted from the day’s activities because shortly after entering the boat, He went to sleep on a pillow.
Once out on the lake, a violent storm came up and the waves were so high they were swamping the boat even with all the effort and expertise of seasoned fishermen. In desperation, they woke Jesus saying, “Lord, save us, we are perishing.”
Jesus replied, “Why are you fearful, little-faiths?” Then He got up, rebuked the wind and the waves, and there was a great calm where there has been a great storm only moments before. At this, His disciples marveled saying to one another, “What kind of a man is this! Even the wind and sea obey Him!”
From my last blog, we learned that Jesus could not do anything on His own volition. He only did what He saw His Father doing. So, when He commanded His disciples to go to the other side of the lake, He must have witnessed His Father’s actions and knew that the crossing was assured. With that understanding, He could rest in the boat even as it was being tossed and flooded by the storm because He knew they would arrive safely on the other shore.
His disciples, on the other hand, had never been in a storm quite this violent, and were unable to keep ahead of the surging waves that were flooding the boat using their own expertise.
Notice that they never asked themselves how Jesus could possibly remain asleep though the howling wind, the crashing waves and the gyrations of the boat as they were tossed around like a leaf by the storm. Instead, they woke Him up saying, “Don’t you care that we perish (Mk 4:38)?
They wanted all hands on deck. If only He could ask God to help them keep the boat afloat, they might escape with their lives. Their faith in Jesus was limited to believing that if He could add His efforts to their capabilities, they might be OK.
But there was a reason Jesus could remain asleep through all that turmoil. He had seen His Father deliver the boat safely to the other side. If His Father gave Him that assurance, He could remain asleep no matter how tempestuous the situation.
This was also a learning experience for the disciples. They had a way for handling the storm even though their solution had failed to save them. One more pair of hands and a favorable nod from God just might be enough. By questioning Christ’s motives for remaining asleep, they showed that they were not simply “casting their cares on Him.”
Jesus wanted them to realize His fate was bound up in their fate, and since He was asleep, He must know something about the outcome of their trip they hadn’t yet grasped.
He wanted to point them to His source of confidence and peace. His question to them, “Why are you so fearful, little-faiths?”, seems almost absurd given the ferocity of the storm. But there was an even greater reality — the kingdom of God — that Jesus wanted the disciples to experience. So, He got up and quelled the storm to their astonishment. Just as they had never seen such a storm, they had also never seen a storm abated in such a dramatic fashion.
As He stood up, Jesus must have seen His Father stilling the wind and the waves. He said to these same disciples later, “The things that I do you will do also and even greater things shall you do because I go to the Father.” He also said, “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
In 2 Timothy 2:13, Paul says that even if we are faithless, He remains faithful because He CANNOT DENY HIMSELF. Just as Jesus’s fate was bound up in the fate of the others in the boat, so is His fate bound up in us because He came to live in our “boat” when we accepted Him as our Lord and Savior. Our “boat” may encounter huge storms that will appear to sink us even with all our efforts to keep it afloat.
We can look at the storm and become fearful, wondering whether the Lord really cares about us in our situation. Or, we can look to Jesus seated at His Father’s right hand — a place of rest and finished work — and ask Him to show us how His Father is working out His plan in our lives. His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. So, instead of asking Jesus to help us with our solutions, we can ask Him to perform His Father’s solutions in us knowing that He will do what He sees His Father doing, and thereby bring glory to His Father.
May the Lord richly bless you, :o) Bill