“You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Matthew 8:26)

Jesus is getting into a boat

After Jesus' sermon he climbed onto a boat to travel. A storm came up and the waves became bigger.

A gathering storm of faith

Here Jesus is responding to his disciples becoming anxious about a storm that was tossing waves over the boat. Jesus was sleeping during this storm, but the disciples awoke him, saying:
“Lord save us! We’re going to drown!” (Matt. 8:25)
After saying the above, Jesus woke up and “rebuked the winds and the waves.” (Matt. 8:26) The sea became calm. The men in the boat became amazed, saying:
“What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him?” (Matt. 8:27)
Most people who read this story focus on the later part of the story. They focus on Jesus’ calming the winds. However, this is not the real lesson here. The real lesson was Jesus’ statement.

“You of little faith,” is how the text states Jesus said. Faith in what? Is he saying they lack faith in Jesus’ ability to calm the winds? Why would he chastise them for having little faith in him when he was sleeping?

Because Jesus is not referring to his disciples’ faith in Jesus’ ability to calm the waves.

What does Jesus mean by 'little faith"?

The phrase "of little faith" here is being translated from the Greek word ὀλιγόπιστος (oligopistos), which also means, "trusting too little" according to the lexicon.

In other words, Jesus is speaking of a lack of trust in the Supreme Being’s ability to protect them, even in the worst of times, and even through the worst of calamities. By the disciples worrying about drowning, they were testifying that they had no confidence in God’s ability to protect them.

Jesus' point is that this trust is fundamental in our relationship with God. God is our Creator and our Protector. Why would He not take care of us? God takes care of everyone. This is part of our relationship with Him. This is part of His Personality. Whether we want to admit it or not, not only did the Supreme Being create us, but the Supreme Being is our Best Friend, our Confidant and our only real Protector. He cares for us as no one else can.

By Jesus’ sleeping through the storm, he illustrated his own trust in the Supreme Being. He did not awaken worried that the storm might drown him.

We must also trust that we are being taken care of by the Supreme Being - even in death. Death is only the discontinuation of this physical body. It is not our actual death. We simply leave the temporary physical body. However, we also are subject to the possibility of heading to a destination we may not want to go. The direction, however, is ultimately our choice. If we decide now to depend upon God and put our full faith in God protecting us, then we will have no worries about where we will go upon death. The Supreme Being will guide us back to Him should we completely rely upon Him.

Should we fear God?

Fear is quite simply an expression of self-centeredness. The inner self is worried about the body because the self wants to enjoy this body in a self-centered manner. The self wants to preserve the body to continue eating, sleeping, and having sex. The self wants to keep the body going to continue living in the dream of potential enjoyment.

The problem with this is that the body brings no real fulfillment. It is an illusion of enjoyment. It is like dreaming. Our dreams are transitory. We might feel that we enjoy them for a moment, but as soon as we awaken they disappear. These bodies are traveling through a temporary slipstream of matter more real than a dream, but just as transitory. Thus there is no permanence.

When we see matter as something to enjoy, this is like a mirage. It is like being in a desert and thinking we see lake. We reach into the sand expecting water. While thinking we will touch water, we only grab more sand.

The illusion of the material world

The material world is like sand in that it is devoid of happiness. It is dry. It contains no real pleasure. It only appears to contain pleasure when we look into the future with expectation. This is what is called temptation.

But we can see around us that no one- even the richest movie stars, kings and presidents who have all the fame and money and power we seek - is fulfilled. This is illustrated by the drug use, suicides, divorce, and other symptoms of emptiness among those with wealth, fame and power.

Yet even so, we are still tempted to think that we will be happy if we get those things. This mechanism of the material world to tempt us is often referred to in the scriptures as satan or the devil. While the mechanism of temptation does exist, it is quite certainly under the Supreme Being’s control. It is a mechanism designed to teach us and test us - to hopefully wake us up from our self-centered illusion that we will be happy without the Supreme Being.

And as for Jesus' ability to rebuke the waves? This ability also came from the Supreme Being: All power and authority comes from God, because God owns and controls everything.