Jesus on Faith:
Any time we are being asked to define faith, we turn to Hebrews eleven. The chapter also lists a number of heroes. It should be of interest to us that Jesus used a different criterion to define faith. He singled out people that were not regarded as examples of faith. His own disciples, in his opinion, were men of little faith (Mt.6:30; 08:26). Nicodemus, a leader of the people, was uncertain of what to believe (Jn.3:4). Jesus’ town-people did not believe in him (Mk.6:6).
Let us look at a few people that Jesus regarded as worth following. Foremost of all was a Roman Centurion. He believed that Jesus could heal his servant without being present by simply commanding it. No one in all of Israel had his kind of faith (Mt.8:10). A Canaanite mother begged Jesus to heal her daughter. Jesus told her that it was not right to take bread from the children and feed it to dogs. Her reply was that the crumbs the dogs got from the children’s table would suffice for her daughter. Jesus told her, “Woman, great is your faith” (Mt.15:28). Four men brought a person to Jesus on a stretcher through a roof. The disabled person no longer was capable of believing himself, but his friends did and Jesus commended them for their faith (Mk.2:5). One day, a woman with a twelve-year long plague touched the hem of Jesus’ robe and was healed. Jesus stopped and had her identify herself that told her that her faith had made her whole (Mk.5:34). A persistent widow was commended for not giving up in behalf of justice (Lk.18:1-8).
These people had one thing in common. They were all in desperate need and had nowhere to turn but to Jesus. During World War II, we lost everything and some even lost their lives like my father-in-law and brother-in-law; yet, in spite of it, people turned to God in Christ in large numbers. Among them, were little people like my mother-in-law and my mother; neither the communists nor the Nazis could squash their faith. There were no great men left to look up to. They were either dead or in prison. The clergy were Hitler and Stalin’s most feared enemies. Without religious leaders, the people went directly to Jesus. This was the time between 1939 and 1945. How are we doing in 2006? Those of us that have placed our trust in great preachers, teachers or political leaders are letting our faith slip away from us. If this trend continues, faith in Jesus shall diminish (Lk.18:8).
What must or what can we do? First, like the disciples, we must admit that we require help. “Increase our faith,” they begged (Lk.17:5). Second, we need to recognize the seriousness of our lack of faith. Then cry out like the father for his son, “I believe, help my unbelief” (Mk.9:24). Third, we must stop looking for physical proof like Thomas and simply trust in the Risen Christ (Jn.20:29). And fourth, we must focus on the author and finisher of our faith who is Jesus our Lord and Savior (Heb.12:2). If we fail, then the people from the East and the West shall come and take our place in the kingdom and we shall be on the outside looking in (Mt.11:8: Lk.13:39).