Today I joined the TAFES staff for manuscript discovery. It is actually a rare treat for me to sit in any Bible study and I came out of it super encouraged. We were looking at Matthew 8 which includes Matthew’s version of the calming of the storm.
Gift (and she is an absolute gift!) asked, why are the disciples so surprised when Jesus calms the storm? After all, that’s what they asked him to do! When they asked him, did they not really think he could do it? In which case, why did they ask at all? Everyone in our group owned to this experience, of praying while not really expecting that God can or will change things.
It’s a stark contrast to the faith of the centurion earlier in the passage, a man of great faith whom Jesus commends. I said to Gift, “At least if you pray without expecting you are no worse than the disciples!” She did not accept this at all. Let us not have faith like the disciples! Amen to that.
But here’s what stuck out to me: Jesus gives both what they ask for. The centurion’s servant is healed; the disciples are delivered from the storm. Both the request of a man of great faith and those of people of weak faith are answered.
I’ve been pondering the repetition of faith in the passage. And here’s what I’ve come to: it is not the amount of faith that results in answered prayers. It’s the one being prayed to. If it was dependent on faith, the centurion would have a healed servant and the disciples would perish in the storm. But both are saved, not because of the strength of their faith but because of the one to whom they pray, the one who is Saviour.
Ultimately, that’s where the emphasis is. The centurion makes a statement about Jesus’ power and authority; the disciples ask each other, “who is this man?” They’re all talking about Jesus and they’re all recognising him as their deliverer.
I think this is a comfort for those of us who feel ourselves to be of weak faith. It is not us and our faith that matters so much as who the object of our faith is. We may be like the disciples; he can still save us. But, as Gift said, let us be like the centurion and also receive Jesus’ commendation.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.