Matthew 14 - 16:12
Upon learning of the death of John the Baptist, Jesus “withdrew…in a boat to a desolate place by Himself (14:13).” Yet Jesus couldn’t escape for long, and soon found Himself before a large crowd yet again. Despite mourning, Jesus’ compassion (14:14; cf. 9:36, 15:32) moves Him to continue His pattern of teaching (see Mark 6:34), healing, and for the first time in Matthew’s Gospel, miraculous feedings. Interspersed between these events are some pivotal encounters regarding the nature of faith. First, in the face of Jesus literally walking on water, we see Peter’s “little faith” (14:34; cf. 16:8), a faith that seemed to have a hard time keeping its eyes on Jesus. Secondly, we see the unlikely “great faith” (15:28) of a persistent Canaanite woman, whose faith would not leave Jesus alone until He healed her daughter. Sandwiched between these stories of faith is some biting criticism of those who exhibited no faith, that being a group of Pharisees and scribes that came to Jesus from Jerusalem (15:1). Their eyes, as religious as they appeared, were not really on Jesus, but rather on themselves, and their traditions. Legalism, as opposed to faith, looks to man to do what only God can do, and is thus proven to be no faith at all.
Reflect: Faith can doubt. Our faith is often times weak and small. But above all, faith keeps its eye on Jesus, and in the end, faith gets the victory. Listen to how our Westminster Confession of Faith puts it in Chapter 14, “Of Saving Faith” (translation by Dave Snoke, December 2018):
1. The grace of faith, by which God’s chosen are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts. It is ordinarily worked by the ministry of the Word, by which, along [with] the administration of the sacraments and prayer, the grace of faith is also increased and strengthened.
2. By this faith, a Christian believes to be true whatever is revealed in the Word, on the basis of the authority of God himself speaking in it, and acts differently based on what each particular passage in it contains. A Christian yields obedience to the commands, trembles at the threats, and embraces the promises of God for this life and that which is to come. But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting on Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.
3. This faith is different in degrees, weak or strong; it may be assailed often and in many ways weakened, but it gets the victory, growing up in many Christians to the attainment of a full assurance, through Christ, who is both the author and the finisher of our faith.
Connect: Is your faith looking to the LORD Jesus to feed you? To teach you? To heal you? As the old hymnwriter said, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
- Rev. John McCombs
This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.