7 Sayings that Stumped the Disciples

They sat at his feet, broke bread with him, and shielded him from his groupies. But his entourage could not crack the mystery behind his most prevalent message — Faith.

The spiritual idol repeatedly drove home to his disciples that anything is possible, but seemed frustrated at his boys’ inability to grasp his words.

I grapple with my own lack of faith today. As I sought the prime principles that make faith tick, I combed through the Cambridge Edition of the King James Version of the Holy Bible, and found that I was not alone with my lack of faith. His disciples didn’t have much either; Jesus was steadily frustrated with their lack of it. Here, in seven scriptures, he tried repeatedly to illustrate to his disciples what faith required, and what faith could do.

Name it & Claim it

The crowd swarmed Jesus like the paparrazi trailing a movie icon. While his fans flocked about him one time, Jesus stopped in his tracks and bellowed out, “Who touched me!?” The disciples were confused because lots of folks had touched Jesus. But he asked again, until a woman behind him confessed that she had touched the hem of his garment in an attempt to dry up her menstrual cycle, which had been flowing 12 straight years. She was afraid now, because he seemed so angry. “But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour (Matthew 9:22).” Jesus made clear that she had healed herself through her own convictions, and that his robe had very little to do with it.

Forgive & Forget

The mob was constantly testing Jesus’ ability to do miracles. “And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee (Matthew 9:2) .” The man got up, picked up his bed and walked off, and the onlookers were floored, wondering what forgiveness had to do with it. Jesus had sensed that the man’s illness was self-punishment due to guilt. He told the man he was forgiven so he would forgive himself. The doubting disciples, later in Matthew, asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Again he brought up the need for forgiveness, as indicated in The Lord’s Prayer.

Nothing to Fear but Fear in Self

Jesus was sound asleep when a terrifying storm hit the boat. His disciples wrestled to keep it from going under. When it appeared hopeless, they frightfully awoke Jesus and begged him to save them. “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm (Matthew 8:26).” The disciples were amazed at what Jesus could do with the sound of his voice, and he was amazed at their cowardice. If faith was to work, he professed, there could be no fear.

An Ounce of Faith Begets a Mound of Cure

A follower snitched on the disciples. He moaned that they had not been able to cure his son. Promptly, Jesus cured the boy of the fits that were causing him to flail himself into the fire. The disciples sheepishly approached Jesus and asked why they had not been able to heal the boy with their own hands. “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you (Matthew 17:20).” He said that if they possessed even a drop of faith, they could have cured the boy because the weight of faith does not have to match the weight of the task.

Energy Begets Energy

Two blind men stumbled after Jesus, begging for a healing. Jesus asked if they really believed he could cure them. They assured him that, yes, they did. “Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you (Matthew 9:29).” Jesus was conveying to his disciples that the success of the mens’ cure depended on them. If they had believed he could only cure them a little, they’d only have been able to see a little. If they believed he could cure them completely, then they would have received 20/20 vision. The same drop of faith could have gone as far as they would let it go. Here he was illustrating that healing can be effortless. If you turn it over to the subject’s faith, it requires very little energy from the healer.

If You Disbelieve it, You Can’t Achieve it

While adrift one night, the disciples cried out in fear because a ghost was moving across the water towards them. Once they heard his voice and realized it was Jesus, Peter asked if he could walk out to meet him. Jesus beckoned him and Peter got off the boat and started walking towards him. He was doing just fine until he remembered one thing: it was impossible to walk on water! So down he went. “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt (Matthew 14:31)?” Peter had been in the act of defying gravity and reality, but couldn’t accept it.


Don’t See Less, See Excess

A pack of fans had trailed Jesus into the desert so he started to preach to them. Towards the evening, the worried disciples implored Jesus to let the crowd disperse into nearby towns for food. Instead, Jesus told the disciples to feed them. They showed him that they only had five loaves of bread and several fish. “Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread (Matthew 16:8)?” Straightaway he blessed the loaves and fishes. The disciples shrugged and started passing out the limited food, wondering what they would do next. But the food stretched itself to stuff a crowd of 5,000 and leave 12 baskets of scraps leftover. Jesus showed the disciples that faith cannot only manipulate matter, it can multiply it.

While he walked among them, they heard his words but could not grasp their meaning. It baffled them that a miracle required only a small amount of faith. And that faith merely required forgiveness, courage, self-conviction, the ability to see abundance where there was none, and a belief in the task at hand. We chide ourselves today for not having enough of it, but these were the people who followed Jesus on foot and saw his miracles with their very eyes.