Greater than John? Who, me?

downloadMatt 8:9,10 “For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”

Faith.  God’s love language.  If you desire to please God remember that Jesus didn’t marvel all that often over any particular accomplishment of men, except, of course, in this one case of a Roman soldier.  Jesus called his faith “great”.  The rest of us probably fall into the same category as the multitude Jesus preached to in His sermon on the mount.  “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” Matthew 6: 30.  O you of little faith.  That’s most of us!

Even the great Apostle, Peter, had issues now-and-then with little faith, as when he actually walked by faith, at least for a moment.  The fact that he was walking on water may have something to do with the literal sinking of his faith. “And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  Matthew 14: 31.

Do some have more faith than others?  Absolutely.  Paul tells us that faith is given to us by measure.  “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3

One prophet stands out above all the other prophets.  Was it Moses, who had enough faith to part waves and endure 40 years in the desert with a bunch of whiney ninnies?  Perhaps Elijah, who had enough faith to call down fire from heaven, as did Elisha.  But Jesus says of John “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.”  Matthew 11:11.

At this point you may be wondering…

Is there a secret to having great faith?  You could think to yourself, “I’m a nobody.  I’m the least of the least.”  Perhaps you are like Gideon who, when commanded to go in strength to destroy the enemies of Israel, said of himself, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel?  Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”  Judges 6:15.

But did you know that you can have a faith that exceeds that of Moses, Elijah, Elisha and even John the Baptist?  Who, me?  Yes you.  No way!  Yes, way!  True, Jesus spoke highly of John the Baptist, saying “there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist,” but He went on to say, “But he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

“Wait, that’s me!”  You shout.  “I am the least in the kingdom, at least one of the least.  But how can any of us have a faith greater than John the Baptist?  How can I, the least of saints, possess great faith? How can it be said of me that my faith might exceed that of the prophets?”  It all depends upon who or what you are placing your faith in.  If I have a greater gift of faith than others I might be inclined to think too highly of my faith.  I might be further inclined to exhort others to just, “have more faith, like me!”  I might be inclined to spiritual pride.  Unfortunately, many endowed with great faith, must battle pride, and since God resists the proud, well, good luck with that.

The disciples wanted that great faith.  In Luke 17:5 we see them say to Jesus, “increase our faith.”  But Jesus responds, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”  Huh?  Wait.  Little faith can rip out a tree and plant it in the sea?  Wait… what?

What’s the bottom line?

Okay, here is the gist.  Jesus is trying to tell them that the faith they desire is already within their grasp.  If my faith is little I am in the best possible position to put all of my hope, not in my little faith, but in His great faithfulness!  We should not desire the great faith that some seem to possess, but the little faith that can rip our troubles and obstacles out by the roots and plant them in the sea.  If I have great faith (like Peter thought he possessed), my focus will be my exercise of faith, and eventually I will sink.  But if my faith is only in God and in His faithfulness, then anything is possible.

Is there is catch?   Yes, there is.  This “little faith” comes by knowing God’s word.  “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Romans 10:17.

If I am abiding and believing in His word, in time I will understand my place in God’s creation.  Over time I will decrease, but He will increase in me.  Through scripture interacting with personal experience (not just head knowledge) I will discover that I am nothing, possess nothing and can do nothing apart from Him.  My focus will increasingly be on Him rather than on me.  My fleshly thinking, especially when considering spiritual truths, must be skewered, eviscerated, mangled and murdered.  In the process I may be humbled, humiliated even.  I must work out my salvation with fear and trembling, but always believing that God is at work in me causing me to will and to do His good pleasure.  (Phil 2:13).

But what if I get discouraged in the long wait for this sort of faith to distill down into my spiritual innards? Take heart.  If you asked that sort of question you probably already have the little, humble faith it takes to put your trust entirely in His faithfulness.  If you are already aware of your weakness and limitations you are ready to begin focusing on the unlimited power, love, grace and favor of God towards those who put all of their hope in Him! Praise the Lord!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About accumike

Michael Edwards, with his wife, Shay, have been involved in various ministries such as leading Bible Studies and worship, teaching teens and pastoral counseling, since 1984. Currently they are ministering at Planned Parenthood in San Luis Obispo to girls and women going in for abortions, lovingly providing information and alternatives. Please pray to end abortion and for the cultural and spiritual conditions in our nation that advance it.
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