“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.“ (I Thessalonians 3:24)
Halfway through the gospel of Matthew, one of Jesus’ steady companions is starkly contrasted with an obscure woman. While the Gentile mother’s faith towers over the long-‐-‐-‐standing disciple, God’s hand powerfully rescued both from their dilemma.
Jesus is praying alone; the disciples are battling a raging storm. They are terrified when he approaches them, walking on the water, coming to their rescue. Peter asks permission to walk on the waves, too, and Jesus tells him, “Come.” Yet, rather than continuing his gaze directly on the Master, Peter changes his focus to the ferocious winds and slides downward (Matthew 14:22-30).
Instantly, the passage tells us, Jesus grabs Peter, saving him from certain death. As Jesus is rescuing Peter, he admonishes him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Instantly, the winds cease their commotion the moment Christ enters the boat.
One chapter later, Christ praises the Syrophoenician woman for persistent faith. This mother begs Jesus to heal her demon-possessed daughter even as the disciples scorn her intrusion and demand her departure. She is relentless, and ignoring their disdain she insists on a miracle.
When Jesus explains that his primary responsibility is to the lost sheep of Israel, she kneels before him and humbly refers to herself as one unworthy of his intervention but needy nevertheless. She surprises Christ with her unwavering appeal, and he declares, “O woman, great is your faith. Be it done for you as you desire” (Matthew 15:28). Instantly, the Scriptures tell us, her daughter is healed.
In the middle of the storm Peter wavers, plummets, and is scolded by the Lord. In the midst of a young girl’s demonic oppression, Christ salutes the Gentile mother who adamantly believes him for the impossible. Their faith varied, but God did not. Fear-‐-‐-‐filled Peter and the fearless woman both appealed to Jesus. He fixed his eyes on them and transformed their circumstances entirely by his power.
He still rescues; he still saves. Turbulent forces must still bow to his dominant authority.
Elizabeth A. Mitchell