Matthew 8: Amazing-Faith or Little-Faith?

Some times I have to remind myself how I probably would have been cast in the story of Jesus’ life had I been there at the time.

Matthew marches a fast parade of characters past us in this chapter.  A man with a skin disease that would have made him unclean.  A powerful Roman centurion.  An infirmed mother-in-law.  Handfuls of demon-possessed and sick people.  Two demon-possessed Gentiles from the “other side of the tracks lake” who terrorized their town.  A bunch of dirty pig-farmers.

All of these characters have two things in common.  One, they were unclean, foreign, odd, “others” who did not fit the mold of the “children of the kingdom”  (8:12) and therefore should not be those sought by Jesus.  Two, they were all filled with immense faith.  They flocked to Jesus for healing.  They pleaded dependently for help.  At the least, the pig farmers acknowledged Jesus as awe-inspiringly powerful.  It is the Roman centurion whose faith stands out the most:

“I’m telling you the truth,” he said to the people who were following.  “I haven’t found faith like this — not even in Israel!” (8:10)

But there are also three other characters.

A scribe — a religious functionary who labored with holy words all day long.

A disciple who had decided to make Jesus his “Rabbi.”

A group of disciples (maybe the apostles) who stick close to Jesus, even running to him in a storm.

These are the orthodox ones, the insiders, the chosen ones.  They are religious, clean, upstanding citizens.  These three are who you would expect to come off looking good in the chapter.  But Jesus doesn’t seem to be so sure about the scribe’s claim of commitment (8:19-20).  Jesus seems to think the disciple with a dead father is really just making excuses (8:21-22).  The disciples with Jesus in the boat that stormy day are sure they are about to die.  In contrast to the amazing faith of the Roman centurion, Jesus chastises his own disciples:

“Why are you so scared, you little-faith lot?” (8:26)

The religious don’t come off looking so good in this chapter.


I was born to religious parents.  I have been in a church most Sundays of my life.  My family went to church every time the doors were open, and other times too to take care of church matters.  My father was an elder.  My mother a president of a woman’s auxiliary for a Christian school.  I went to Christian camp.  I graduated from a Christian high school.  I have two degrees from Christian colleges.  I work for a Christian high school.  I am a deacon in a large church.  I teach adult Sunday school.  I read Christian books and listen to Christian music.  My wonderful Christian wife and I named both of our kids biblical names.  My blogs are religious.  And if I had enough guts to get a tattoo, it would be a cross.

I am thoroughly religious.

But do I have any faith?

What did you notice as you read this chapter?

Categories: Matthew | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Matthew 8: Amazing-Faith or Little-Faith?

  1. There are only two People in the 4 gospels where Jesus said “Great Faith”

    these two people are not Jews. they are gentiles. they knew nothing of the Law.

    Paul said

    “the Law voids Faith”.

    indeed, It was the good samaritan who helped the beaten stranger. the samaritan, who was probably not under law too.

    oops… i’m not anti-law.

    – grace and peace

  2. Trent Williamson

    The last question that you pose haunts me almost daily. I’m definitely religious but only within the boundaries of a religion that makes my life comfortable. I want to be faithful and not religious!

    • “Have the Faith of God”
      – Mark 11:22

      It’s not your faith. It’s God’s faith given to you.

      You will have that faith when you

      Hear the good news about Jesus. Hear about how much Jesus lvoes you.
      stop seeing Jesus as Judge or Morality teacher.

      Just hear good news, His finish work, at the cross. Hear how He died at the cross for you
      Hear how Jesus was raised from the dead.

      stop looking for good works to do or how to follow Jesus. Hear good news about Jesus and
      good works follows.

      “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ”
      – Romans 10:17 NLT

      in the greek Hearing is “from hearing, and hearing ”

      keep on hearing and hearing about Jesus

      – grace and peace
      – shamashama

      How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?
      How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?
      And how will they hear without a preacher?
      – Romans 10:14

  3. Pingback: I Am Archibald, Scribe of S-tan: Chapter 2 | Bangari Content Gallery

  4. Trent: I very much agree. That question haunts me too. I wonder when the last time was that I truly did something that demanded faith. I have for so many daily things (like paying the bills, protection and child-rearing) but I am not so sure I have taken a leap of faith in a long time. At the same time, I wonder if that is just how a person’s faith-walk grows: leaps at first and daily inching along later on. I am not sure, though.

    Saved: Interesting point about the two Gentiles. Cool! Good reminder that so much goes back to what God does in our life, not us ourselves. I am not so sure I can agree that God gives faith (why doesn’t he give faith to everyone) but your point that there is no grounds for self-righteousness is a good one. Thanks.

    • @”I am not so sure I can agree that God gives faith (why doesn’t he give faith to everyone)”

      sometimes I am perplexed about faith. not that I am doubting or in doubt.

      think of Lazarus. He was dead.No sign of life. No sign of faith either.
      But then Jesus called him and there he rose up and walks.

      Mark 11:22 in Youngs Literal Translation, is simply “Faith of God”

      Theologians say, Even faith is created by God.
      beyond that I have no idea.

      I guess I dont want to have any part in anything about God’s giving.
      even the faith, I dont want any claim to it, less I merit God’s justification, salvation

      I cannot conjure faith, merely by hearing and hearing about the good news of Jesus
      produces faith, or faith comes. from where? I have no idea.

      @(why doesn’t he give faith to everyone)

      Its the same question I have though,
      Why doesn’t God just not save everyone at the account of Jesus?

      the same question resonating in my head.

      If God is Love, and He is love himself.
      then why would he allow people to perish?
      If we who are mere human, in our limited selfish
      love, can think of such questions, why wont God
      who is love himself snatch people from going to hell after they die?

      wow… thats alot…

      great post there… sorry for long comment.

      – grace and peace

  5. I am struck by the strong contrast between this chapter and the three that preceded. Jesus goes straight from such glorious, thought-provoking, heart-altering teaching back to healing the crowds, people who don’t always appreciate him and who want what they want.

    Ministry is about way more than teaching. Getting into the world doing something about the darkness is just as important as teaching. Of course, we know that, but does my heart? Are my hands ready for that reality?

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