What if Jesus is a lot less stoic and serious than we picture Him? For centuries we have been taught of a very serious not fun-loving Jesus who loves us greatly but is always serious and rebuking people for their mistakes. The love part is fantastic, however, God created our personalities and fun-loving nature, so why would His son not have a fun personality? As scholars delve into the history, language, and cultures they are coming to realize that much of what Jesus said was said in humor and at times His words were pretty harsh-no, like really harsh for the time-but that was mainly toward the Pharisees. But while Jesus was stern toward . the religious leaders, He primarily embodied the fruit of the Spirit with everyone else. Jesus was a friend and companion to His disciples and followers. If we view Him as always rebuking their mistakes we will have a skewed view of who He really is, how He relates to us and the relationship He calls us to.
I was reading Matthew 14 this morning and came to verse 31.
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
I have always read this as a rebuke and heard many sermons on Peter’s doubt, but let us look closer at this story.
The disciples were on the boat in the wind, it was not a surprise to Peter. In fact, verse 24 says the boat was being battered by the wind and waves. He knew of the wind and waves when he stepped out to walk to Jesus. He stepped out in faith, it took a small seed of faith to step out. Peter made the mistake of allowing fear to distract him from Jesus though, and he began to sink. Jesus’ response was “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Maybe Jesus was really saying, “you have faith, so what made you doubt? Let’s deal with it.” Looking at the text and the Greek used here it is very likely the case.
When my children get scared at night, do I rebuke them? When my friends have a moment of fear after stepping into the unknown, do I tear them down with “you have courage, why are you scared?” or comfort them, “you have courage! Why are you scared?” encouraging them and identifying the fear to handle it together? Of course, I would encourage them and walk with them through their fears showing where God has been all along the way to strengthen their faith!
Jesus actually addresses having a small amount of faith and what a great thing that it can be.
“He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.'” Luke 17:6
When I think of Jesus referring to Peter’s “little” faith I have to wonder, could He have been telling him, “that was a little faith, it is a start, just wait until your mustard tree of faith grows!”
What if Jesus said it in love?