In the gospel according to Matthew, the Lord spoke only once of anyone having great faith, whereas He spoke no less than four times of those who had little faith.
Consider the encounter between the Lord and the centurion who had come to the Savior seeking the healing of his servant. We would have judged that this Roman officer was a most unlikely candidate, but his story affords us a lesson in true humility. In the Roman empire, a centurion was a man to be feared and, if possible, avoided. Arrogance, rather than humility, would have been considered the most suitable adjective to employ when referring to such a person. Not only did he have the certainty that the Lord could heal his servant, but he implicitly recognized the moral authority of the Savior, thus displaying faith and an acknowledgement of the deity of Christ. Such was his humility that he considered that his house was not worthy to receive the Lord. Many would have considered it an honor to be received into the home of an important officer of a Roman legion, but there was no arrogance in the heart of this man.
Let us now consider the four times that the Lord speaks of little faith.
The Lord’s PROVISION for His people
The Lord detected a lack of faith among the disciples, and He reminded them what they had experienced. He said: “When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, ‘Nothing.'” And then again, He stated: “Consider the lilies how they grow; they toil not, they spin not, and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O ye of little faith” (Luke 12:27, 28)?
At the beginning of His public ministry (Matt 6: 25 – 30), the Lord spoke of the fowls of the air and the lilies of the field. The examples that He gives us are those of the birds; they need not worry for they are nourished by God, and then the lilies of the field have no thought of seeking to embellish themselves, for God gives them a beauty beyond all that men could conceive.
The Lord’s PROTECTION when they were in danger
The disciples were in a ship when there was a “great tempest.” (Matt 8:23-27) The Lord was with them, asleep in the ship. Despite the presence of the Son of God, they were afraid, for the storm was so violent that even those disciples who were fishermen and experienced in such weather were stricken with fear. They awoke Him and said: “Lord save us, we perish. And He saith unto them, ‘Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?'” The promise that He made to Joshua was true for them, as well, when He said: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Josh 1: 5).
The Lord’s PRESENCE in the storm
They were again on a troubled sea and the Lord was not with them. Suddenly they saw the Lord Jesus coming towards them, walking on the sea. They were filled with fear, believing that they had seen a spirit. He reassured them: “Be of good cheer; it is I, be not afraid. 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.’ 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: 25-31).
The Lord’s PERCEPTION of the disciples’ reasoning
“When His disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said unto them, ‘Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.’ And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘It is because we have taken no bread.’ Which when Jesus perceived, He said unto them, ‘O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?'”
We see how quickly the disciples had forgotten their former experiences. The Lord reminded them how He had sent them “without purse, and scrip, and shoes” and yet they had never been in need and that further, they had been eyewitnesses of His miracles.
In conclusion we see the Lord Jesus manifesting His faithfulness to His people in all the circumstances of life despite the fact that so often we are of little faith.