O Thou of Little Faith

Scripture Reading

And immediately Jesus stretched forth [his] hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Matt. 14:31

Miracles of Jesus

In this Bible study called, O Thou of Little Faith, this passage of scripture culminates after a miraculous event is recorded in scripture. In fact, there were two recent miracles performed by Jesus. First, he fed the multitudes with only five loaves and two small fish. Afterwards, Jesus then sent his disciples into a ship out to sea and then he departed up into a mountain alone to pray. In the evening however, when his disciples were in the midst of the sea, strong winds stirred up the waves around them.

Then as scripture records that something happened in the fourth watch of the night. This is an old term for the time period between 3:00 am to 6:00 am; very early in the morning, or for some, the middle of the night. The apostle Matthew records the events of Jesus as he went out unto them, walking on the sea. Think about this for a moment. It is not as though big city lights cast light over the sea. This was during ancient times when moon light, if it was a clear night, would have been the only light upon the sea. Yet, here is Jesus physically walking on the surface of the sea towards the disciple’s who were in the ship. This is defying the natural laws of gravity! No mere man could ever perform such a feat of this nature.

O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Matt. 14:31b

Fear of the Unknown

Rightly so then, as it was described in the scriptures, “…when the disciples saw him walk on the sea, they were troubled, saying, it is a spirit: and they cried out for fear.” [Matt. 14:26] Readers should ask how they would have reacted under such circumstances. Here is someone they had known for some time now. Many of them perhaps still had apprehensions about who he really was in the context that they knew his family members and profession as a tradesman. Further to this, his disciples no doubt heard how the scribes and the Pharisees condemned and accused Jesus of being empowered by the prince of devils. These were clearly not easy circumstances to navigate for his disciples but let us see how the story unfolds in scripture.

Under the circumstances however, Jesus reassured them with simple and kind words expressed in this passage, “But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” [Matt. 14:27] With these words before them as reassurance, it was now the impetuous apostle Peter who responded in the next verse, “And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” [Matt. 14:28-30]

Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

Matt. 14:27

Lord, Save Me!

Oh how often are those words of plea expressed in desperation to God by people upon encountering such dire circumstances. Lord, save me! Clearly, the apostle Peter was in that dilemma with a dark sky above him, casting darkness upon the sea, watching Jesus walk on the surface of the sea, only to have such little faith and then beginning to sink. Thanks be to God that we have a savior who cares for us and comes to our rescue, “And immediately Jesus stretched forth [his] hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? ” [Matt. 14:31] 

One can only envision how this scene unfolded in the darkness of night with wind and waves abounding while in a small boat that was likely limited in navigational capacity. Then with the intensity and fear of seeing what was termed as a spirit, fear must have gripped the disciples not really knowing who it was that approached the boat. It is puzzling why Peter asked to come out of the boat and walk on the water but scripture often tends to portray him in a manner of speaking and acting before thinking. Nevertheless, it is an example of the need for all of us to trust Jesus in faith for his provisions in our life.

Jesus is Lord

This faithful trust however must start with knowing Jesus, knowing who Jesus really is as Lord. This is why the apostle Paul declared in one of his letters when he stated, “And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” [Phil. 2:11]  Notice the verbal confession of faith in this passage in that Jesus Christ is Lord? This is because the acknowledgement of this is the first step in becoming a Christian.

And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord,

Phil. 2:11

Similarly, Paul also expressed this in his letter to the Roman church, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” [Rom. 10:9-10] Note again the key words found in this passage, confess and believe. This dear reader is what happens through confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and belief in what he did on the cross for atonement of your sins and people are born from above spiritually (John 3:16).

The Son of God

Let us close off this Bible study called O thou of little faith. Returning now back to this week’s scripture reading, we can see how this played out with the same belief and confession from the disciples, “And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.” [Matt. 14:32-33]  How about you as a seeker of faith? Would Jesus say to you, O thou of little faith? Are you ready to make this commitment of faith and say like the disciples of Jesus, of a truth thou art the Son of God?

Finally, perhaps, the wind and the waves also serve as a metaphor for the challenges we all encounter in our daily lives which are often fraught with problems, setbacks and disappointments. Becoming a Christian does not make your life perfect, nor does it remove all obstacles in life. But in the midst of it, would you not want Jesus to reach out and take your hand and catch you, so to speak, if you are sinking in the woes of life. Call on him now, confess him as Lord and believe that he has paid the penalty for your sins, for it is in him whom we have eternal life (1 Pet. 5:7).

Bible Study Questions

  1. In this Bible study called, O thou of little faith, how do you think you would have reacted if you were one of the disciples in the boat under these circumstances?
  2. Before Jesus went out onto the water to meet his disciples, he went up into a mountain alone to pray, true or false?
  3. What was the emotion that Jesus responded to from the disciples in his response to them upon seeing him walk on water? Hint, starts with the letter A.
  4. From this story in scripture, what led to the circumstances of the apostle Peter starting to sink in the water? Hint it was his lack of ______________.
  5. For seekers of faith, what do the scriptures instruct us to do based on Rom. 10:9-10?
  6. In addition to declaring that Jesus was the Son of God upon him entering the boat, what is something else they did towards him? Hint, starts with the letter W.
  7. Make it a point today to share this story of faith with someone whom you care about to inspire their faith in God.

WORD GUIDE – * (spake – spoke) * (bid – have) * (wherefore – why or where)

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