What Jesus Really Says About GREAT FAITH

Jesus didn’t seem to be as concerned about the amount of faith a person has as many people today are. Of course, it’s better to have more faith than less faith. But did you know that the Bible only records two instances when Jesus commends people for their “great faith?”

Great Faith

In one story, a Roman centurion asks Jesus to heal his paralyzed servant, who was “suffering terribly” (Matthew 8:6). Jesus asks if he should go to heal him, but the Roman man replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” (verse 8).

Jesus was amazed at the centurion’s response and commends his “great faith.” The other story where Jesus speaks of someone’s “great faith” involves a Canaanite woman, whose daughter Jesus heals (Matthew 15:22-28).

In both of these stories, Jesus does not say that he decided to heal the person because of the amount of faith they had. Rather, he simply observes their “great faith.”

Why the Focus on Great Faith?

Biblical scholars agree that the reason Jesus highlights the faith of these people is that Jesus was commending these non-Jewish people (a Roman centurion and a Canaanite Woman) in order to encourage his Jewish audience to have the same faith in him that these Gentiles had and to challenge the common Jewish belief that God’s grace did not extend to the Gentiles. On account of this, regarding the Roman centurion, Jesus says explicitly, “I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith” (Matthew 8:10). [1]

Little Faith

As with “great faith,” there are not many times that Jesus ever speaks of a person’s “little faith,” and it is never in connection to healing.

Once Jesus said that those who don’t trust God to provide for their basic needs have “little faith,” given that “God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire” (Matthew 6:30).

On another occasion, Jesus remarked regarding the disciples’ “little faith” when they were afraid their boat was going to sink during a “furious storm” (Matthew 8:24-26).

And many sermons have been preached on the story of Peter walking on the water. When he began to sink, Jesus remarked regarding Peter’s “little faith” (Matthew 14:31).

Finally, Jesus observed the “little faith” of the disciples when they were concerned about their lack of bread, even though Jesus had already miraculously provided bread on more than one occasion (Matthew 16:8-10).

Unlimited God!

Note well: In each of these stories Jesus worked miracles despite their little faith. God is not limited by your level of faith! Therefore, Jesus saved the disciples and calmed the stormy sea, even though they had little faith.

Perhaps you can remember Jesus saying something about having faith as small as a mustard seed.


[1] R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 589-91.

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Dr. Gabriel is the author of four books and serves as a Theology Professor at Horizon College and Seminary. You can follow him at www.andrewkgabriel.com.

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