Just before Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, his disciples were with him (Matthew 5:1). From at least that point until Peter confessed Jesus is the Christ his disciples were constantly present. They heard lesson after lesson and saw miracle after miracle. So, why on three occasions in the book of Matthew did he accuse them as being people of “little faith?”
In Matthew 8, Jesus had been teaching people in Capernaum and then “got into a boat.” God’s word doesn’t say why Jesus got into a boat, but what happens afterward is good evidence why. Jesus was asleep when a storm developed and threatened to toss everyone overboard. The disciples woke the Master saying, “Lord, save us! We are about to die! (Matthew 8:25 NET). Jesus said, “Why are you cowardly, you people of little faith?”
They were “people of little faith” because they had not come to believe that if Jesus, the son of God, is in the boat, there is no reason to be afraid.
Again in Matthew chapter 14, the disciples are on the Sea of Galilee alone and see a figure walking on the water toward them. Immediately, they are afraid. Why? They assumed what they saw was a ghost (Matthew 14:26). Peter called out to the Lord and said, “Lord, if it is you, order me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:28). Jesus gave Peter permission and the disciple began walking toward Jesus, but sank. Jesus said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31 NET).
They continued to show their lack of faith even though they had been taught and had seen miracle after miracle.
In Matthew chapter 16, shortly before Peter confessed faith in Christ, Jesus told his disciples they should beware “the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They misunderstood that what the Master said was not about physical bread, but about spiritual influence. So, Jesus said, “You who have such little faith! Why are you arguing among yourselves about having no bread? (Matthew 16:8 NET).
Their lack of faith caused them to mistakenly think about their need for food and they had lost sight of what really mattered: the son of God was with them! He is teaching them God’s spiritual truth!
If it is possible for Jesus’ disciples (potential apostles) to have weak faith, is it also possible for us to have the same? However, if it is possible for Peter’s faith to lead him to confess Christ and to become what Jesus wanted him to be in Acts chapter two, is it possible for our faith to increase and become what the Lord wants us to become?
There endeth the lesson.