But Jesus, aware of this, said, “You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread?”
It is interesting that Jesus calls the apostles men of little faith because they could not embrace the symbolic nature of His discussion about the leaven of Pharisees and Sadducees. They did not have the mental ability to grasp immediately what He was saying. They were too concrete in their thinking. He calls that concrete, literalistic thinking “little faith.”
What is also interesting is that He was speaking about a toxin to faith — the leaven or the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Each one sought to destroy true faith on a different basis. One was so literalistic that it could not believe anything beyond their own exact literalistic interpretation of the text. The other embraced a naturalism with a denial of the spirit realm — both of these are destroyers of faith.
The word faith is the Greek word oligopistos, which is really two Greek words: oligo and pistos. It is the combination of the word little or few and faith. The word faith in the New Testament is consistently pistos, which means the ability to think, to be true, to be persuaded of. The idea is that one must mentally hold a concept or idea as true and move in the direction of that conception as though it were true. It is as the book of Hebrews says, “the evidence of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” But they were seen before they were seen. In your mind you must be able to hold the truth of what has not been realized yet. This is where the idea of faith or belief as trust comes from. You must be able to embrace the idea mentally or you will not be able to trust it or to act upon it.
Just as in our day there are some misguided young men of a different religion who have conceived of a paradise with 72 virgins waiting for them if they die as a martyr, and their ability to hold that image as true allows them to trust in it and kill themselves in suicide missions. Their faith is misplaced and wrong; they have trusted in a bogus concept. But they have truly demonstrated what faith is! There is no way that they could go through with their missions if they could not hold what they think will be the outcome to be absolutely true in their mind.
One of the things that is interesting about Jesus’ comment here and in other places is that He saw belief or faith as a function of the individual’s mind. We tend to see it as the function of the thing or fact itself. We expect the fact, the thing, the idea itself to convince us to believe in it. Jesus, however, embraced the more accurate understanding that belief is a function of your mind and your ability to hold or conceive of a thing as true.
* This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material. The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.
* In order to protect the future book I need to copyright the material but I give complete freedom to share to whoever you think they might encourage.