“They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. And He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ …”
Luke 8:24-25 NASB1995
The Lord spoke to me afresh through this familiar passage. I’ve always been skeptical, thinking perhaps the disciples’ lack of faith was demonstrated in how dramatic they were being. Perhaps faithful men aren’t so dramatic?
But the passage seems to indicate there was legitimate cause for concern:
“…A fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger.” (Luke 8:23)
The Holy Spirit Himself says they were in real danger, describes the wind as fierce, and says the boat was filling up with water! These sea-faring men had every reason to be afraid. And yet Jesus’ words to these hardened fishermen, fearful because of a boat filling with water, are quite surprising:
“WHERE IS YOUR FAITH?”
What a powerful rebuke!
What Is Faith?
It begs the question, what did Jesus want? What would it look like for the disciples to have been faithful in that situation?
Was He rebuking them because they bothered Him by waking Him? Would He have preferred they not wake Him? Is “big faith” content to drown?
No, I think He was rebuking them because they were hopeless. What did they say when they woke Him?
“Master, Master, we are perishing” (v24).
They proclaimed they’re dying. Their faithlessness is revealed in what they didn’t do: they jumped straight to despair and didn’t even bother to ask Jesus for help.
When Jesus says, “Where is your faith?” Part of what He’s saying is, “why didn’t you ask Me to do something?”
Faith asks Jesus for help!
What Is Big Faith?
Another gospel account of this same story gives further insight into the nature of faith. Elsewhere He says, not “Where is your faith,” but “oh men of little faith.”
“And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He *said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” (Matthew 8:25)
Here it appears from this account that they did ask for help — but what was their problem? “What took you so long to wake Me?”
They waited till all hope was lost! The storm had already become fierce, and the boat had reached the point where it was already swamped. That’s when they asked.
Little faith is faith that waits until the very last second to ask for help.
Big faith is faith that asks at the first cloud, that cries out at the first sign of trouble.
Because faith is dependence on God! And that’s where they failed, in failing to depend upon God.
Where We Discover the Size of Our Faith
What did these seafaring men do? If we know they waited till the last second to cry out for help, what had they been doing when the storm was raging, when it wasn’t yet clear that they would perish?
They were doing all they could! As sea faring men, they knew storms! They checklists! They tried to bail the boat out, tried to fight the storm — because they COULD.
From the time the clouds formed, they started doing all they already knew to be effective. They tried every trick in the book. And what this reveals is what they truly thought of Jesus at that time: “Why bother with Jesus, the carpenter? It’s not like He has special knowledge of this situation.”
What the disciples discover here, they would not have discovered on land. This was a uniquely designed test — in the area of their strength — to see whether they had learned to lean on Jesus. And His verdict — “where is your faith?” “Little faith…” — reveals that they did not pass.
Despite all the sermons they had heard, despite all the miracles they had seen, they were still relying on themselves.
We learn an important lesson here: the real trial of our faith often comes to us in our strong points.
In our weak points, we naturally turn to the Lord; but in our strength, we are much more likely to depend upon ourselves.
We are much more likely to discard the input, direction, power of the Lord as unnecessary. And what this reveals is that we haven’t come to see and count on Jesus as the Lord of all.
I was sharing this passage with some brothers the other night, and one of them pointed out something I hadn’t seen.
It says that, “as they were sailing along He fell asleep…” (Luke 8:23).
“That’s where their problem began,” he said. “They let Jesus go to sleep when it was smooth sailing.”
Wow!!! What a challenge to my heart, that the Lord might never “go to sleep” in my boat, even if I’m just “sailing along.” That there might never be a time when I think it’s ok if Jesus naps.
What a prayer: “Lord, please don’t fall asleep! I can’t afford for You to be out of the picture for a moment! I need you ESPECIALLY when I’m ‘sailing along,’ so stay awake. Keep watch with me.”