"O YOU OF LITTLE FAITH"

By David J. Riggs


Intro.

   A. Acceptable faith is not a pin-point action or attitude that    

      occurs only once.

      1. Faith is a gradual process, growing and becoming stronger

         with time.

      2. This becomes obvious when we study the development of

         faith in the disciples of Jesus.

      3. Watching their faith grow, and the Lord's patience with

         them, becomes an encouragement for us.

   B. On several occasions, the Lord rebuked His disciples for their

      lack of faith.

      1. We want to examine these in this lesson.

      2. The testing of their faith, their failures, and the Lord's  

         love and patience should inspire us to greater faith and    

         trust.



I. A TEST OF FAITH ON THE SEA OF GALILEE. Matt. 8:23-27

   A. Thus, one evening, Jesus and His disciples were crossing the   

      sea of Galilee in a small boat and a violent storm arose.

      1. This storm was particularly bad; waves were filling the boat

         with water and it was about to sink.

      2. Even hardened sailors would be frightened in such a violent

         storm.

    B. Jesus sleeps through it all.

      1. This shows His humanity; He grew tired, needed His rest, as

         we do.

      2. It speaks of His calmness of soul.

   C. The disciples aroused Him with cries:

      1. "Save us, Lord; we are perishing." Matt. 8:25

      2. "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" Mark

         4:38

      3. "Master, Master, we are perishing." Luke 8:24

         a. Thus, we hear the cries of the frightened disciples.

   D. Some faith was expressed in the terms "Lord," and "Master."

      1. However, for a moment through their fear they had forgotten

         WHO was in the boat.

   E. Jesus rebukes them:

      1. "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Matt. 8:26

      2. It's obvious they had a little faith, but far too little.

      3. The plan of God for bringing Jesus into the world would not

         be destroyed because of an unexpected storm.

   F. Consider how Jesus reacted to His disciples.

      1. He did not go back to sleep, saying, "Don't bother me, I'm

         tired."

      2. He did not get out of the boat, leave the disciples behind, 

         and walk to shore on the water.

      3. He did not seek to replace the disciples when they all got

         back to shore.

   G. Instead, Jesus rebuked the wind and sea, and there was a great

      calm.

      1. He gave His disciples another look at His divine power.

      2. He gave them another building block in the foundation of

         their faith.



II. CONSIDER A SECOND "O YOU OF LITTLE FAITH." Matt.14:22-33

   A. Thus, late in the evening, after feeding the five thousand,    

      Jesus sends His disciples to the other side of the lake while  

      He goes up into the mountain to pray.

      1. A strong wind arises, blowing contrary to the direction the

         disciples wanted to go.

      2. In the fourth watch, some time between 3-6 a.m., Jesus came

         to them, walking on the water.

      3. When they saw Him, they were terrified saying, "It's a

         ghost!" Matt. 14:26

      4. Jesus calls out to them: "Be of good cheer. It is I. Do not 

         be afraid." Matt.14:27

   B. Peter said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on

      the water."

      1. Why couldn't Peter have been satisfied with, "Lord come on

         over here and get in this boat!"

         a. Or, "Lord, could you do something about this wind, like

            you did once before?"

      2. He makes a rather rash request, but the Lord is patient with

         him.

      3. Peter climbed out of the boat and tries to walk on the      

         water.

         a. Is this the impulse of faith or a foolish act? It may be 

            a little of both.

         b. We give Peter some credit for faith. By faith he walked

            on water - even though it was but for a moment!

      4. When Peter saw the high waves, he was afraid, began to sink

         and said, "Lord, save me!" Matt. 14:30

   C. What did Jesus do?

      1. Put His hands on his hips and shake His head?

         a. Shake a finger at Peter and lambast him for lack of

            faith?

         b. Throw His hands up in despair and keep on walking,

            leaving Peter on his own?

      2. Immediately, He stretched forth His hand and took hold of

         him. Matt. 14:31

         a. With that firm, loving grip, He said, "O you of little

            faith, why did you doubt?"

   D. When Jesus and Peter got into the boat, the wind immediately

      ceased.

      1. The disciples were greatly impressed by Jesus walking on the

         water and the wind immediately ceasing when He was there.

         Mark 6:51

      2. They worshiped Him and said, "Truly You are the Son of

         God." Matt.14:33

   E. What did Jesus do when they got to shore?

      1. Did He say, "Peter, I've had about enough of your too little

         faith. You are the weakest link, goodby!"

      2. No, He kept working with him and the others seeking to

         strengthen their faith.



III. THE DISCIPLES MISUNDERSTAND AND SHOW THEIR LACK OF FAITH. Matt. 

   16:5-12

   A. Jesus rebukes them for not knowing that He would not be

      warning them about ordinary bread.

      1. He had shown them that His bread was to do the will of His

         Father. John 4:31-34

      2. He had rebuked the multitudes for seeking Him for the

         wrong purpose. John 6:26-27

   B. The disciples should not have been concerned about ordinary

      bread because, as He had done before, He could easily provide

      for them.

      1. They needed to be concerned about dangers to the soul; e.g.,

         the doctrine of the Pharisees.

      2. After Jesus explained things to them, they did understand.

         Matt. 16:12



IV. THEY FAIL BECAUSE OF UNBELIEF. Matt. 17:14-21

   A. Think of the horror this poor father had.

      1. The evil spirit had often seized his son when he was near

         water or fire and thrown him into it.

      2. The father had brought his son to Jesus' disciples, but they

         were unable to cast out the demon.

   B. Jesus gave a strong reply. Matt. 17:17

      1. The disciples were included in this "faithless and perverse

         generation."

      2. Evidently, the doubts of the multitude had influenced them.

   C. The disciples asked Jesus why they were unable to cast out the

      demon and Jesus said it was because of their unbelief. Matt.

      17:20

      1. This was the only time recorded in the gospels that a       

         miracle could not be performed, and it was due to the lack  

         of faith on the part of those trying to do the miracle.

      2. With only a little faith in the age of miracles, one could

         literally remove mountains.

      3. Today, with only a small amount of faith, one is able to

         remove figurative mountains.

         a. The evil spirits of pride, envy, covetousness, etc., can 

            be cast out by prayer and fasting.



Concl.

   A. Jesus never gave up on His disciples even though their faith   

      was lacking at times.

      1. The Lord didn't give up on them, and the faithful ones      

         didn't give up on the Lord.

   B. It's reassuring to know that the Lord is patient with us.

      1. Let us stay with the Lord, and continue to follow Him, our

         faith will grow.

      2. And one day, we will receive the great reward of faith -

         eternal life. 1 Peter 1:6-9