Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Matthew 8:23-27 NIV)
That must have been some storm, the disciples were worried about dying – at least 4 of the disciples were fisherman, these men knew the seas and they thought the end was near.
These men were Jesus’ disciples; as such they looked to their Rabbi for everything, from teaching to eating. As Rob Bell puts it, they wanted to follow their Rabbi so closely they would be covered in his dust. I don’t find it strange they asked Jesus to “save them”, he was in charge, he was clearly a man who could do great things (just read some previous passages) and so now, with the fear of death in their minds, they turn to Jesus.
They wake up Jesus and are met with a strange response, not fear, not worry, definitely not dread but a reprimand.
“You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”
This is a strange response; the disciples are coming at this story without the certainty that Jesus is the Messiah. The disciples woke Jesus up, not because they did not have faith in Jesus but because they did not have faith in the boat…
In the ancient world, the thought of having faith in a man, like you would a God would be a foreign concept. The Jews with their monotheistic faith would have, at this point seen Jesus as an amazing Rabbi, maybe they were starting to see more but the thought that he could do what he did, and calm the waves with a word would have been out of the scope of their reality.
The disciples were right not to have faith in the boat, even today with all our modern technology boats sink at sea, back then it would have been much more common.
Lee Strobel puts the contradiction of faith well,
“You can have very little faith in thick ice and it will hold you up just fine;
You can have enormous faith in thin ice and you can drown. It’s not the amount of faith you can muster that matters up front. It may be tiny, like a mustard seed. But your faith must be invested in something solid.”
The disciple’s faith was not “invested in something solid”, they had faith in a thing, not the King. The disciples can’t have known, not really, who Jesus was; otherwise they would have lay down beside him assured that God would protect them.
When Jesus said to them “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” he was hinting at a much bigger truth, that faith in things is misplaced while faith in Jesus is a sure thing. Do the disciples get it? Nope, they follow up Jesus miracle with a question;
“What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
This is another step on the disciple’s journey, another step closer to them discovering that Jesus is not just their Rabbi but “… the temple to end all temples, the priest to end all priests, and the sacrifice to end all sacrifices.” Tim Keller.
So the question is, what do you put your faith in?
Author – Jake Clifford.