"O Thou Of Little Faith"

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Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 591

Context: When Herod the Tetrarch married Herodias, former wife of his brother Philip, he was censured heavily by John the Baptist. Philip was still living, and this sort of union was considered adulterous. Herodias, a woman of rare vindictiveness, had John imprisoned and then bided her time until she could arrange his death. When Herod's birthday was celebrated, Salome danced before him. She was Herodias' daughter by her first husband, Herod Boethos, and married Philip the Tetrarch–to whom her mother had also been married. This would appear to be a sordid tangle of human relationships at best, and it is not difficult to understand the feeling of outrage expressed by John and perhaps by the public as well. Herod was pleased with the dancing of Salome and said he would grant her whatever she wished. Salome had been coached by her mother: she asked for John the Baptist's head. Herod regretted his promise, for he liked John the Baptist; but he kept his word. Now, when he hears of the works of Jesus, he thinks John has returned to life again. Clearly his conscience bothers him. Jesus, on the other hand, hears of the Baptist's death and is deeply distressed by it. He and His disciples take ship and go to a secluded spot in the desert; but the multitudes have heard the news and are also distressed. They follow. Jesus heals the sick among them and then feeds the crowd miraculously with five loaves of bread and two fish; these are distributed by His disciples and all five thousand are fed; twelve baskets of food are left over. Jesus then sends His disciples ahead of Him by ship, saying He will follow later, and tells the multitudes to return home. After they are gone He retires to a mountain and prays. By the time He has finished, night has fallen; there is a storm on the sea and the ship is only halfway across. Of the episodes in which Jesus chides His disciples for insufficient faith, the following event is perhaps most memorable.

And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying,
Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

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