Why can’t I change things?
Why can’t I solve this?
Why does it have to be this way?
We’ve all asked similar questions. Jesus’ disciples did too.
“Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
Jesus answered quite frankly, “Because of your little faith” (Matthew 17:19). Four times in the Book of Matthew he speaks even stronger by naming his close followers Little Faith.
You may not see Little Faith in your Bible because it’s usually translated into the phrase “O, you of little faith.” But the original Greek language uses just one word, “Oligópistos,” in the vocative case, which means it is intended as a name.
Here are the four passages:
• During a talk, Jesus asks, “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, Little Faith?” (Matthew 6:30; cf. Luke 12:28).
• Again, when his disciples awaken him from a nap in the middle of a violent storm on the sea, Jesus asks, “Why are you afraid, Little Faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm (Matthew 8:26).
• When Peter began to sink and drown after walking on the water, Jesus immediately reaches out his hand and takes hold of him, saying to him, “Little Faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).
• Finally, as Jesus warns against the leaven of religious error his disciples start talking about whether they have bread to eat. Jesus responds, “Little Faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? (Matthew 16:8).
We do startling names like Little Faith to get someone’s attention and to stir up a response. We push with,
“Hey, Lazy Bones, get to work!”
“Catch up, Slow Poke!”
“Come on, Mr. Wall Flower, go ask her to dance!”
Recapping, we note that Jesus asks a question of Little Faith each time.
“Little Faith, will God not clothe you?”
“Little Faith, will why are you afraid?”
“Little Faith, why did you doubt?”
“Little Faith, why are you focusing on bread?”
The good news is that Jesus doesn’t call us to have more faith than any other Little Faith has. In fact, Little Faith may be a very positive and accurate name for us.
Jesus explains the power of little: “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:18–20).
He goes on to say, “a grain of mustard seed ... is the smallest of all the seeds on earth” (Mark 4:31, ESV). A mustard seed is about a big around as a dime is thick. Now that’s little!
Is Jesus is shocking and teasing us into using the our little faith? Probably. A little goes a long way!
A little faith will get you your next step. A little faith gives enough breath to speak to the mountain. A little faith helps us plant our tiny mustard seed for a future harvest.
So, hey, Little Faith, step, speak, and sow, for Jesus’ sake. Amen!
Next step: Tell a friend your new nickname and why you like it!
John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla. He is available to coach individuals or groups who want to succeed. Contact him at email@example.com or (209)564-7201.