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May 15, 2016

Your Faith Has Made You Well

Passage: Mark 5:21-43

Speaker: Scott Jeffreys

Series: Mark: An Action Packed Gospel

“Your Faith Has Made You Well”

Faith is to your faith what water is to grass. Just as grass dies without water so too does your Christian faith (noun) die without faith (verb). Why? Because lack of faith kills the work of God in your life.

Jesus said, “If you have the faith of a mustard seed then you can say to this mountain move from here to there and it will be moved.” (Mt.17:20)

Even the tiniest amount of faith is powerful and since no one is “moving mountains” our faith is tinier than the tiniest of mustard seeds. None the less, the point still stands. Imagine how God would move in our lives with just a bit more faith.  

The writer of Hebrews said, “Without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Heb. 11:6

James wrote in his epistle, “But when a person asks for (wisdom) he must believe and not doubt because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” (Ja. 1:6-7)

Exercising Our Faith

The exercising of our faith is crucial to our Christian faith. God honors our faith.

In our text today the healing of Jarius’ sick daughter and the healing of the bleeding woman hinged on the exercising of their faith. They both believed Jesus could bring healing to their particular situation and they both acted on their faith by approaching Jesus for healing.

Jarius exercised faith in that he approached Jesus to heal his daughter. This in itself was an act of courage because he was a synagogue leader, a lay leader in the church. He was not a Pharisee per say but because he swam in the religious pool of the day he was certainly closer to the criticisms that were levied against Jesus in the religious community than the average person; therefore he was taking a risk of isolating himself from the religious authorities just by reaching out to Jesus.

He also exercised faith when Jesus was interrupted by the bleeding woman who touched him. His daughter was dying and Jesus need to get there in a hurry and yet the text seems to indicate that Jarius waited patiently as Jesus dealt with the bleeding woman.

He exercised his faith one final time when the men came from Jarius’ house to tell him to not bother Jesus anymore because his daughter had just died. It was as if she died while they were in route to the hospital. Jesus ignored the men and told Jarius to “not be afraid, and to just believe.” Jarius believed. He continued to go with Jesus to his house and he entered the room where his dead daughter lay and Jesus healed her.

As it concerned the bleeding woman, she too exercised great faith in seeking healing from her situation.

The first way she exercised it was in the very fact that she had not given up. The text tells us that she had gone to every doctor in town and spent all she had but to no avail- she kept getting worse. In other words, this woman had exhausted all of her options. She could have given up but she didn’t. Instead she stepped out in faith and did something that she should not have done. She touched Jesus.

Because of her persistent bleeding this woman, according to Jewish custom, was ceremonially unclean and anyone who touched her would be made ceremonially unclean as well. It would be good manners on her part to not touch anyone and as for other folks they would do well to get out of her way. Yet this woman stepped out in faith and did something that was socially unacceptable so that she might be healed.

When she encountered Jesus, in trembling and fear for what she had done, he did not scold her but told her, “Daughter your faith has healed you (made you well). Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

So again what we see in their two texts is that God honors our faith and moves in our lives when we act on our faith.

What About When We Have Faith but Aren't Healed?

But this raises some huge questions for us.

What about when someone is not healed? Or who dies?

Does that mean they were not healed because they had a lack of faith?

This is a corner that some segments of the Christian church have backed themselves up into, namely charismatic Word of Faith type churches and it can be devastating because it can lead someone to conclude that the reason they were not healed is because they lacked faith and this can lead to despair, unwarranted guilt, and even the doubting of one’s salvation. Or the person who was not healed but insisted that they did have great faith ends up concluding that the Bible, God, and Jesus is a bunch of bunk. I had faith; Jesus did not heal; therefore the Bible, God, and Jesus is a fairy-tail.

The problem with this line of thinking is twofold.

First, the world is fallen and broken and the chief consequence of its brokenness is death. When sin set in, death set in. “The wages of sin is death,” as Paul says in Romans. So unless the rapture occurs in our lifetime none of us will escape physical death. We can escape spiritual death in Christ (praise God) but not physical death. We will all die at some point, regardless of how much faith we have in the face of death. At some point the request will not be granted.  

Second, this line of thinking is predicated on the false idea that a persons’ personal faith or lack thereof, is the sole determiner as to whether or not a person is healed. But this fails to take into account the wider teaching of Scripture on healing.

If you look at the healing stories in Jesus’ ministry there are some people such as the demoniac (whom we looked at last week) who had no faith at all and yet Jesus healed him. Then there is the healing of the man with leprosy. It is obvious that when he approached Jesus that it was at least within his mind there was a possibility that Jesus would not heal him. He said, “Lord if you are willing you can make me clean.” (Mk. 1:41) The man had faith but at the same time he knew his healing was not guaranteed. Then there is the story of the father who brought his boy to Jesus for healing. Jesus said to him “everything is possible to him who believes” and the father replied, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” This man’s faith was not perfect, he had doubts, yet Jesus healed this boy anyway.

We Are to Have Faith

The point in all of this is to say that the world’s strongest faith is not an automatic guarantee to healing. And conversely speaking, just because someone is healed it does not automatically mean that their faith was perfect or they even had it. There are other important factors that come into play when we talk about healing, namely the sovereignty of God and the will of God as it concerns one’s healing.

Even so, in the midst of all of the complex questions that can be raised about life and death and why some people are healed and some are not, as it concerns us we are to have faith. Our Lord commands us to have faith and our faith does move the heart of God to work in our lives and our faith does keep the channels open between us and God so that the work of the Spirit is not quenched in our lives.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.