Jesus said, "But if God so clothes the grass of the field ... will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" (Matthew 6:30) Actually, it's even sweeter the way Jesus said it than our English translations.
One day a friend of mine (Pastor Ralph Laufer) said, "Is that a diminutive?" And so we looked. The Greek word is "oligopistoi." Taking the word apart: pistis is the Greek word for faith; oligo is the word for little; and the ending oi means ones. Putting it together it means "little-faith-ones." And yes it looks like a diminutive; it's a term of endearment! It isn't a scolding word. It's a word with lots and lots of affection.
The next time in Matthew we run into the word is out on the water, after Peter called out to Jesus and said, "Hey! Lord! If it's You command me to come to You on the water!" (my paraphrase) And Jesus said, "Come." and Peter was out there walking on the water; and then looking around and getting afraid; and then beginning to sink; and then Jesus grabbed him by the hand and lifted him up. That's when Jesus said, " oligopiste (Little-faith-one) why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:31) (And then they walked back to the boat together.)
Jesus is the teacher of faith, and faith means "believing the words and promises of God." For just a moment there Peter was doing exactly that, but it was little steps of faith. Yes, even walking on water was "little steps" of faith.
Jesus is the teacher of faith. Like a basketball coach, or a marshal arts teacher, He shows as He teaches. He demonstrates. Jesus had been doing that for the disciples all along -- facing temptation, hours of prayer, trusting His Father when the storm came up, and on and on. He was training them in faith as His "little-faith-ones" and there were a lot more lessons to come. But it all came back to the same thing over and over; believing the words and promises of God.
Jesus would demonstrate faith in His Father's promises all the way to Jerusalem, the Garden, the Cross and the Empty Tomb. In addition to being forgiven, saved and being given eternal life, they would watch the astonishing faith of the Son of God "who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)
I heard a scientist tell about examining footprints making a trail through long since dried mud. In some places there were 2 sets, one big, the other small. In other places only the big one. So he looked closer. He examined the places with only one set. As he looked inside them he found much smaller footprints there within the larger prints. He said, "Like children all over the world there was a child following behind and walking in the footprints of their father or mother." I remembered that, because I remembered back when I was very little and there was a big snowstorm. I was following my father out into the back yard, and I didn't want to get snow in my boots. So I tried to walk in His footprints. I remembered that when I had my own children, and I remember sometimes taking very short steps, so they could walk in my footprints.
Jesus is the great teacher of faith. He called His disciples to follow, and He took some of those small steps. He showed them what it was like to walk in faith as a human being. He was tempted, and by faith held firmly to God's Word. He wept for his friend Lazarus and the sisters Mary and Martha. He was hungry. And He struggled as He prayed in the garden.
As He taught them, Jesus still teaches faith and we are His students and disciples. Time after time the lesson goes back to the same thing, believing the words and promises of God. It may be when we are not sure which path to choose in life. It might be in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. And it will almost certainly be after all this mess right now is done and we have the question, "Will I continue to follow?"
There are footprints. They are the footprints of the Son of God, who was born to be one of us. And they are His footprints of faith, step by step believing the words and promises of God. And they are proofs that Jesus has set down, proving that God's words and promises are solid, and they give life, and they are all bound together in Jesus. They are given by Jesus who says, "Come, follow Me ..." and who says, "Because I live, you will live." So then, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the Author and Perfecter of faith ..." (Hebrews 12:2)
Lord Jesus, be my teacher. Guide and train me. Let me learn faith from You, that in the middle of all the things happening all around, I may go back, time and time again, to hear Your words. Help me to find rest and peace in the faithfulness of Your promises, that I may endure through my whole life. Strengthen and keep me in faith, that I may see Your glory and live in Your kingdom. Amen.