Have you heard of French funambulist Charles Blondin? Blondin was the first ever tight rope walker to traverse Niagara Falls. On June 30, 1859, 100,000 people witnessed this amazing feat. Charles accomplished the Niagara crossing seventeen times. In September of 1860, the Prince of Wales was a member of Blondin's audience and watched as the daredevil crossed the Falls with his assistant, Romain Mouton, on his back! Blondin asked the Prince if he would like to ride on his back for the return trip. The Prince declined.
Even if you hadn't heard the name Charles Blondin, you might have heard his story as an illustration of the difference between belief and faith.
The Prince of Wales surely believed that Blondin could walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope with a man on his back -- he had just seen it! But given the opportunity to entrust himself to Blondin as 'the man on his back,' the Prince refused. The Prince had belief, but he didn't have faith.
In today's text, Jesus continues to do amazing things; feats far greater than high wire acts. He is healing diseases. He is feeding over five thousand people with a single serving of fish and bread. He is walking on the surface of a wind-whipped sea. It is becoming increasingly difficult to deny that Jesus is God-like. No ordinary man can do the things He does. And at the end of this passage, Jesus is worshiped as the true Son of God.
But in between the miracles and the worship, one of Jesus' followers had the opportunity to move from belief to faith. Peter believed that Jesus had exceptional power; believed that He could impart to Peter the ability to walk on water. And for a brief moment, he entrusted himself to the powerful Word of Christ. But sadly, it was only for a moment. What happened? Why such a short-lived faith? "Peter" was a nickname Jesus had given Simon BarJonah. But in this instance, Jesus calls him, "LittleFaith."
Our faith is small, too and fails under various circumstances because we doubt that what we believe about Jesus will be applied to us in our moment, under our circumstances. Blondin can carry a man across a wire; he HAS carried a man across a wire; but can he do it with ME upon him upon the wire? We believe that Jesus can. We just don't believe that He will. He can heal, but will He heal me? He can love, but will He love me? Jesus saves souls through people's testimonies. But if I don't have faith that He will use me, then I am not likely to share my story.
Dear friends, don't just believe. Have faith! Belief talks the talk, but faith walks the walk. Sometimes over the waterfall. Sometimes right on the water.
Pray: Jesus, you are indeed God; God who walked the earth and demonstrated the character, power and purposes of the Divine Kingdom. Help me to not just believe that, but to act that out day by day. Bring us all challenges to prove our faith.