We’ve been studying the book of Matthew on Wednesdays and something keeps jumping out at me. When we got to chapter 8 and read about Jesus healing the leper and the centurion’s servant it was evident that their faith was a crucial part of the equation. Jesus is the one who healed them and they really didn’t do anything but demonstrate their faith in him. Look what Jesus says about the centurion in verses 10 through 12.
When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.
Matthew 8:10-12 (ESV)
Jesus is the source of healing, there’s no question about it. Jesus has the power, the authority, and the willingness. However, there is something to be said about the centurion’s faith. Even though he was a Roman (and therefore a pagan), he was able to recognize something about Jesus that stood out. The centurion probably shouldn’t have had faith in Jesus, but he did. He then acted upon that faith.
This isn’t the only time in Matthew’s Gospel where you see Jesus healing people according to their faith. In chapter 9, while on his way to raise Jairus’ daughter from the dead, a woman makes her way through the crowd and touches his garment, fully believing that she will be healed when she does. Jesus turns to her and says, “Daughter, your faith has made you well” (verse 22). Once again, it is the power of Jesus that heals her, but Jesus credits her for having the faith to seek him. After raising Jairus’ daughter he meet two blind men seeking sight. He tells them that they will be healed according to their faith, and they are healed (verses 29-30).
To further illustrate this principle, we only have to look at Peter. In chapter 14 the disciples find themselves in a boat in the middle of the night. The wind is raging around them when they see Jesus walking on the water. After realizing that he isn’t a ghost, Peter asks to come out on the water with him. Jesus tells him to get out of the boat and he does. There’s Peter, walking on the water, heading towards Jesus. However, it doesn’t last long. Peter looks around and realizes what he’s doing and then he gets scared. He starts to sink and then cries out. Jesus saves him and then tells him that his faith is small (verse 31) and that he shouldn’t have doubted. Jesus has the power to do anything. Peter didn’t sink because Jesus couldn’t sustain him, he sank because he stopped believing.
One of the most interesting verses we’ve encountered so far is found in chapter 13. Jesus has been teaching and healing people all throughout Capernaum. When he returns to Nazareth (his hometown) and begins to teach in the synagogue, people are impressed at first. They recognize that he is demonstrating power and wisdom that is unusual. Then something happens. They start to question him. They recognize that he is the “son” of Joseph. They know his mother. They know his brothers and his sisters. Matthew says that they took offense at him because he was just that Jesus kid from up the road (my paraphrase). The interesting part comes in verse 58 when Matthew says:
And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
Matthew 13:58 (ESV)
There is no doubt that Jesus was able to do anything that he chose to do in any location that he wanted. The issue was never about his power or his authority. Whenever we see people not being healed it is because they lacked faith. I believe the same can be said for us today. We have to be careful not to take the Gospel accounts of context but I truly believe that many of our problems today are due to our lack of faith. God has not changed. He still has the power to anything He desires. The failure is due to our insecurities, doubts, and fears.
When I think about all of the times I have stumbled and fallen in my life I can see that there are two common factors. The first one is sin. A lot of the problems I have encountered were a direct result of my own sinful behavior. I wandered off and got caught up in things that I knew I had no business being involved in. Once I confessed those sins and turned away from then, God restored me and put me back in the path. However, a good number of my struggles were the result of my lack of faith. I just couldn’t believe that God was going to get me through or provide the things I needed. I didn’t take Him at His word. God’s power never went away. He always had the power to deliver me. The problem was that I wouldn’t claim it.
We all struggle with that from time to time. God knows that we’re going to struggle with it. One of the things the Holy Spirit does is help us believe. God is able. There is no doubt, unless we bring it into the equation.