In the last issue, we read about the prophecy made by Jesus concerning the terrible fear that is going to come upon the whole earth. (Luke 21:25-26). In fact, we can say that this prophecy is coming true considering the worsening of the ongoing chastisement of the world. However, at the time when Jesus made this prophecy, He added, “When these things begin to happen, stand up and raise your heads..." (Luke 21:28). However, to do this in a situation where there is overwhelming fear all around you, you require to have exceedingly great faith.
Now, irrespective of the ongoing chastisement, Jesus wants us to conquer all fear; even the fear of death. This is possible only when we have exceedingly great faith where our eyes are fixed on Him alone. In other words, we start living for Him alone. Until then, we are either people of ‘no faith’ or ‘little faith’. That is why, every time when we are faced with a trial, we are gripped by fear.
The disciples were frightened too when their boat was caught in a storm. Jesus on the other hand was sleeping calmly inside the boat. It was only when the situation became uncontrollable and great fear came upon them, that they woke Him up and begged Him to save them. Jesus stood up and calmed the storm. But note what He said to them, "Why are you frightened? Do you still have no faith?" (Mark 4:40).
Before this incident happened, the disciples had been with Jesus and He had given them several teachings; He had even worked wonders in their presence. But they were yet to have the kind of faith where their eyes were fixed on Him. They were yet to live for Him alone. And so it was natural for them to respond with fear. That is why Jesus said to them, "Why are you frightened? Do you still have no faith?"
On another occasion, the disciples were sitting in the boat and all of a sudden they saw Jesus coming walking on the water. But this time, one of them dared to exercise his faith – and that was Peter. He saw that the same Lord who slept calmly inside the boat while the storm was raging outside was now walking on water. He wanted to have the same experience. And to cut the story short, he began walking on water toward Jesus.
As long as his head was raised and his eyes were fixed on Jesus, he could walk on the water. But when he noticed the strong wind, he was afraid and started to sink down in the water. "Save me, Lord!" he cried. (Matthew 14:30). Jesus saved him. But once again, note what Jesus said to Peter, "What little faith you have! Why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:31).
The words ‘little faith’ indicate that Peter had progressed from having ‘no faith’ to ‘little faith’. Yet, Jesus was not satisfied. The disciples had been with Him for so long; He expected them to have ‘exceedingly great faith’ – not ‘little faith’. On another occasion, when they could not heal a boy with an unclean spirit, He said to them, "How unbelieving you people are! How long must I stay with you? How long do I have to put up with you?" (Mark 9:19).
Peter did progress from having ‘little faith’ to ‘exceedingly great faith’. But he had to go through many trials – the most severe one being the time when he would deny the Lord three times. And yet the Lord was there to help him. Jesus said to him at the Last Supper, “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail.” (Luke 22:32). And sure enough, Peter progressed from having ‘little faith’ to ‘exceedingly great faith’. After the coming of the Holy Spirit, he was put in prison on a number of occasions because he openly preached the Gospel. He ran the risk of being killed. Yet he was not afraid of proclaiming the Gospel.
On one occasion, when Herod put him in prison, we are told that he was fast asleep though he was tied with two chains and there were two guards guarding him on either side. He went into a such deep sleep that even the angel who came to rescue him had to shake him by the shoulder in order to wake him up. (Acts 12:6-7). How could he have been so calm to the point of going to sleep when there was every reason for him to fear? This was precisely what Jesus did in the boat while the storm was raging outside. It only means that Peter was no longer frightened of anything bad that could happen to him. The fear of being beaten up could not grip him; not even the fear of being put to death. That is because his eyes were now fixed on Jesus alone. He had progressed from having ‘little faith’ to ‘exceedingly great faith’.
What about us? How prepared are we in the event the ongoing chastisement turns into a storm and terrible fear descends over the whole earth? After all the Word of God that we have been hearing at retreats, conferences, prayer meetings, Bible Studies, etc., what has it done to our faith? In fact, when we are taken through trials of life, the way we respond will indicate whether we are people of ‘no faith’, ‘little faith’, or 'exceedingly great faith.
The more we fix our eyes on Jesus, the more we will come to know that He is there with us all the time just as He was there with Peter in all His trials. Every time we are faced with a trial and tend to give into fear and despair, we must hear the voice of Our Lord saying to us, "Why are you frightened? Do you still have no faith?” And that must lead us to pray like the disciples, "Lord, make my faith greater." (Luke 17:5). Some of us may have grown strong in our faith. But there are those momentary trials when we do doubt His saving presence. That is when we must hear His voice saying to us, "What little faith you have! Why did you doubt?"
Now, there is little time left. We cannot afford to remain at the level of ‘no faith’ or ‘little faith’. Fear is coming upon the whole world. Jesus’ call to become people who have ‘exceedingly great faith’ is even more urgent now. It is time we stand up, raise our heads and fix our eyes only on Him. But the question remains, “How many of us are determined to do that?” Jesus put it differently, He said, “Will the Son of Man find faith on earth when He comes?" (Luke 18:8).