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According to Your Faith

Date: Feb. 21, 2016

Author: Michael Mark

Matthew 8:18-34

Key Verse: Matthew 9:29

“Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done to you.’”

Faith is a fundamental part of human nature.  Everyone believes in something, no matter what they say.  Music and movies tell us constantly, “Believe in yourself.”  One of the hit songs when I was in high school was “I Believe I Can Fly,” by R.Kelly.  Even atheists have faith.  They believe in science.  They (well some, if not most) believe in the Big Bang Theory, even though it’s only a theory.  No one has ever proved the Big Bang Theory.  Scientists thought they proved it in 2014, but they retracted that statement one year later.  They found out that what they thought were primordial gravitational waves was actually space dust.  You could say that their theory was nothing but dust.  Still others put their faith in other gods, such as Buddha, or the various Hindu gods.  But there is one faith that stands out from all the rest.  There is one faith, and only one faith that saves.  There is only one faith that can heal.  We all act according to our faith.  If our faith is in ourselves, we tend to act selfishly.  If our faith is in the world, we act wordly.  If our faith is in Buddha, we act like Buddhists.  But separate, and apart from all of these faiths, is a faith that opens our eyes to the truth.  I mean like for real truth.  Like the truth about God, our sin and the Savior.  It is a truth that can be proven with evidence in nature, in history, even in our experiences.  When we act according to this faith, we find truth, we find life, and we find salvation.  What is this faith?  And where does it come from?  This is faith in the one true God, and in his Son, Jesus Christ – and it is a faith unlike any other.  This is the faith that comes from God, and is strengthened by God, and it is the only faith that pleases God.  This is the faith Jesus desires us to have, and we will learn today in Matthew’s gospel how Jesus strengthens this faith, gives this faith, and how this faith brings about true healing and life.

We begin the passage with Jesus eating at Matthew’s house, and answering challenges brought by the Pharisees and John’s disciples.  Now look at v.18, “While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, ‘My daughter has just died.  But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.’”  We learn from Mark’s account that the man’s name was Jairus.  He was no ordinary Jewish man – he was a leader in the synagogue and very influential.  Outwardly, his rank is superior to Jesus.  But we see him here, kneeling before Jesus in front of this crowd, which included Pharisees.  Look at this man’s faith.  He risked his reputation, and he humbled himself, because he believed that Jesus could bring his daughter back to life.  Perhaps he heard about Jesus healing the centurion’s servant, just at his very command, and believed.  Verse 19 says Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.

Look at v.20-21, “Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.  She said to herself, if I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus’ visit to Jairus’ house was unexpectedly interrupted by a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years.  It meant she had a menstrual flow for twelve years.  I can’t imagine what that would be like.  Most women, to my understanding, have menstrual flows every month for decades, but this woman had it more frequently.  It may have even been that she bled every day for twelve years.  We hear more details about her story in Mark’s gospel.  “She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. (Mark 5:26)”  The doctors could not help her.  She may have been given different tonics and medicines, but she kept getting worse, and she spent all of her money.  At this point, she could have sunk into despair, but at this time in her life someone extraordinary happened to come to town.  Crowds were flocking around him, following him wherever he went.  Reports of him healing the sick and those with leprosy were spreading all over Galilee.  And here she finds Jesus on his way across town to the synagogue leader’s home.

What was she to do now?  Could she stop him and ask for him to help?  Maybe she thought that would trouble him too much.  Besides, there were all these people in the crowd trying to get to him, how could she cut in line?  But she believed that Jesus could heal her, so she thought to herself, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”  I’m not sure what led her to believe his clothes had special power, maybe just because he wore them.  At the Water Tower Place on Michigan Ave, on the 7th floor they keep actual game jerseys and shoes worn by professional athletes in display cases, as if there was something significant about them being worn and in a game.  So this woman makes her way through the crowd, and sees the easiest thing she could reach and touch without being noticed – it was a tassle hanging from the edge of the cloak.  The tassle is like a long string that was put on the four corners of an outer garment that Jesus wore.  She simply touched the tassle, and “SHOOOMPF!” she was healed!  Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.  Imagine her excitement and astonishment!  But just as surprisingly, she did not shout for joy, grab on to Jesus and give him a hug for healing her of 12 years of sheer agony and pain.  Instead she slipped slyly back into the crowd, ready for the new life.  It’s like she got to steal a little blessing from Jesus.

Jesus knew exactly what happened.  Uh oh.  I’ll give more details from the book of Mark, since Matthew summarizes a lot of what happened, Mark gives more detail.  In Mark 5:30, “At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him.  He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’”  Here is a demonstration of Jesus’ deity.  He knew who touched him, and he knew what happened.  Jesus is God, and he knows our hearts and our thoughts.  Jesus healed this woman without turning around or saying a word, because he read her faith.  He asks “Who touched my clothes,” not because he didn’t know, but because he wanted the woman to come forward.  He wanted to know her, and for her to know him.  Jesus doesn’t just hand out blessings impersonally – he wants to establish a relationship with all who come to him.  He also wanted to commend this woman’s faith.  But the woman who was healed, might not have known all this.  So Jesus was looking around to see who had done it.  The crowd must have stopped.  People were wondering why Jesus stopped.  Imagine the woman’s horror and guilt, as she tried to avoid Jesus’ gazing eyes.  “You can run, but you can’t hide…”  But then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet, and trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.  Here, she witnessed firsthand, not by eyewitness testimony, but personally, she witnessed that Jesus was God, and was terrified.

Now look at what Jesus says to her, back in our chapter in Matthew, in v.22 “Jesus turned and saw her.  ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’  And the woman was healed at that moment.”  (Again, there’s a little bit of summarizing Matthew does).  What does Jesus say?  “Take heart, daughter.”  These are words of comfort, and affection.  He calls her daughter.  She must have probably been a young woman, perhaps in her 20s.  He says, “take heart,” it means, “be of good cheer, take courage, be encouraged,” for, “your faith has healed you.”  He acknowledged her faith, and even corrected it.  It was not his cloak that had any special power.  It was Jesus, the man, God himself, that healed her.  It was her faith in Jesus Christ, and it was Jesus Christ that healed her.  And he says, “your faith has healed you.”  He meant it in two ways.  She was healed physically, but she was also healed spiritually.  Jesus heals us both in body and in soul, because only Jesus can say “your sins are forgiven.” 

After this brief interlude with the healing of the sick woman, Jesus resumes his visit to Jairus’ house.  Again we’ll get more details from Mark’s gospel.  After Jesus spoke to the sick woman, some people came from the house of Jairus and said, “Your daughter is dead, why bother the teacher anymore.”  Apparently, from Mark’s account, Jairus’ daughter was very near death, but not dead yet, when Jairus went to seek Jesus’ help.  Maybe Jairus had some last minute hopes of reviving his daughter, but enough time had passed that she died while he was out.  Imagine the disappointment and the dark clouds now coming over Jairus.  “Why bother the teacher anymore,” the servant said.  Jairus may have thought to himself, sigh, true, what use is it now, why bother the teacher anymore?  But Jesus, overhearing what they said, told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”  Jesus is strengthening the faith of Jairus.  Jairus may have been tempted to fear and to despair, but Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”  Just believe in me.  And Jesus said this right after healing the bleeding woman.  Jairus could take courage, and confidence in Jesus after seeing what he had just done.  He might have been tempted to blame Jesus, for stopping to speak to this woman instead of rushing at the urgent request to see his daughter – but all of this was not a coincidence.  Jesus did not make a mistake and linger too long.  All of this was ordained by God, to reveal his glory.  And now, Jairus and Jesus’ disciples would witness Jesus’ extraordinary power over death.

Upon entering the synagogue leader’s house and seeing all the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, Jesus said, “Go away.  The girl is not dead but asleep.”  But they laughed at him.  Here we see lots of people mourning, and the funeral ceremonies are under way.  This proves that the daughter had died.  Perhaps they were all there, ready, but now that the music has played, and the professional mourners are wailing, it was a sure thing that the girl was dead.  But Jesus asked the crowd to go away.  He told them the truth, but they did not believe him.  “The girl is not dead but asleep.”  He was speaking about what would happen after he visited.  The girl may be dead, but Jesus would revive her.  To Jesus, she was not dead.  But the crowd laughed at him.  This was a degrading, scornful, mocking laughter.  They thought Jesus was ignorant and foolish, and had no such faith that he could bring back the dead.  But now notice, he tells them to go away.  They are separated.  I think mainly because Jesus wanted privacy for the parents, but also, he would not show this unbelieving crowd such a powerful miracle.

Here are the details of what happened in the room from Mark’s account.  “After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was.  He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!).  Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old).  At this they were completely astonished.  He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. (Mark 5:40-43).”  Jesus did not hesitate.  He went into the room, took the girl by the hand, and said, “Talitha koum!” Get up!  And the dead girl was revived.  All who were there were completely astonished, including the disciples, Peter, James and John.  This was something else.  This was crazy.  Who is this guy?  No one else in the history of Israel, except the great prophets Elijah and Elisha, had ever done anything like this.  But then even Jesus, did this with much less effort and much greater power than they did.  Peter, James, John, Jairus and his wife witnessed personally and saw firsthand with their very own eyes Jesus’ power over death itself.

What are some lessons we can learn from Jairus’ daughter?  Who is it that gives life?  It is Jesus Christ.  Where does new life come from?  From Jesus Christ.  By extension then, where does faith come from?  Faith comes from Jesus.  Heb 12:2 says Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (NASB).  It wasn’t the daughter’s faith that saved her.  The daughter was dead.  It is Jesus who gave the daughter life, and Jesus who will give the daughter faith, but how did she make contact with Jesus?  Her father, Jairus, brought Jesus to her.  His faith saved his daughter.  Just like how we heard last week, that when Jesus saw the faith of the paralytics friends, he forgave the paralytic’s sins.  This is our faith in action, our faith expressing itself when we bring the good news of Jesus to others, or when we bring others to Jesus.

Now we come to the 2nd half of the passage, starting from v.27, and you’ll see that this half almost parallels the 1st half.  There are the same main points, with slight variations and different characters.  Here we will see the faith of the blind men being strengthened, and effecting their healing, and also see the faith of the mute man being born.  Look at v.27, “As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’”  Jesus was moving on from Jairus’ house back to another part of town.  Interesting though, we don’t hear of a crowd anymore.  He may have slipped out secretly from Jairus’ home and avoided them.  But instead of a crowd, you see two blind people following Jesus shouting, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”  But notice also that Jesus does not stop on the road for them.  He keeps walking.  And they keep following.  That would be kind of creepy if you were not Jesus, but maybe his disciples were there also.  I wonder how they even knew it was him walking back, since they were blind.  Someone may have told them. 

The two blind men call Jesus “Son of David.”  This is interesting.  This is the first time in Matthew that we see him designated as “Son of David.”  We heard about Jesus being called “Son of Man,” and “Son of God,” but what about “Son of David?”  David, as we know, was King David, the greatest king to ever rule Israel.  It was to him that God promised to establish an everlasting kingdom, and one of his descendants would rule in Jerusalem forever.  The Jews understood “Son of David” to be the Messiah, the chosen one who was a direct descendant of King David.  The Pharisees, even the common people, would not just call anyone “Son of David.”  So what’s going on here?  Ironically, these blind men had their spiritual eyes opened.  They recognized and believed that Jesus was the Messiah.  And that’s what Matthew wants us to know and believe too.  They believed that Jesus is the promised Savior, the direct descendant of King David who would become Israel’s eternal king.  By God’s grace, seeds of faith were planted in these blind men.  Jesus wasn’t ignoring them because they were foolish – Jesus was drawing out their faith, as he did with Jairus, teaching them true faith, and to persevere.

Look at v.28, “When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’  ‘Yes, Lord,’ they replied.”  In their first interaction, now indoors and in private, Jesus tests their faith.  Basically, he is drawing out a confession from them.  His question was not, “How can I help you,” or,  “what do you want,” but “Do you believe?”  He questions their faith, but that gives them an opportunity to confess their faith.  In effect he is also asking, “Do you believe I can restore your sight?  Do you believe I am God who can do this?  Do you believe I am the Messiah, the Son of David, as you say?  And he gives them a chance to confess.  And they say, “Yes, Lord.”  If I ask you, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?”  “Do you believe that he is the Son of God?”  “Do you believe that his death on the cross forgave all your sins?”  What would you say?  What if Jesus asked you those questions?

Can we all please read v.29, “Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done to you”;  and their sight was restored.  Jesus could have healed them without saying a word.  He could have healed them without touching their eyes, but he touched their eyes in order to help their faith.  He touched their eyes physically, so they could remember that Jesus touched their eyes, and it was healed.  He also confirmed and acknowledged their faith.  He said, “According to your faith, let it be done to you.”  “According to your faith,” was a response to their faith, it’s not talking about the quantity of their faith.  It means, “Because of your faith,” rather than, “since you have this much faith, I’ll heal your eyes this much.”  As much as Jesus taught them that he is the Messiah, he also taught them the importance and necessity of having faith in him.

In v.30 he warns them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.”  Jesus didn’t have problems performing miracles in public, some of his miracles were already public.  But here he warns the blind men sternly.  This is very serious, almost threatening serious.  There could be a few reasons why Jesus warned them.  One may have been to avoid the crowds.  As his fame spread, more and more people would want to crowd him, so much that he could not minister effectively in the towns he went to.  Another reason may have been to control the news of his miraculous power, because he wanted people to see the cross before seeing the glory.  It’s great that Jesus can heal, and restore life – but his greatest work would be to die on the cross for the sins of all mankind.  So what did the men do?  Look at v. 31, “But they went out and spread the news about him all over the region.”  Great.  Jesus told them to keep quiet, but they shouted from the rooftops.  But who could blame them?  They were not holding Jesus’ words with contempt.  Instead they were expressing the true thankfulness and gratitude of their hearts, and they couldn’t keep it in.  Jesus did not rebuke them, but still though, it may have been better to keep quiet for now – better to obey to God’s will, than to follow our emotions, no matter how good they may be.

While the healed blind men were going out spreading the news about Jesus, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus.  Just barely after Jesus healed the sick woman, raised Jairus’ daughter, and restored sight to two blind men, another group of people come to Jesus with a demon-possessed mute man.  Most likely this man was both deaf and mute, usually those two accompany one another.  There are medical conditions for people being deaf and or mute, but here we are told that the reason for this man’s disabilities are not natural, but caused by a demon.  Here again we see faith in action.  This man may not have been brought here by the blind men, whoever brought him, had faith in Jesus.  This man could not bring himself to Jesus, nor would the demon ever let him.  He could not hear, and he could not speak, and he was demon possessed.  He is as good as the dead daughter.  But the faith of his friends brought him to Jesus.  Because of their faith, and their good deeds by faith, Jesus gave this man a new life.

Jesus drove out the demons.  We are not told how, but we are told the demon was cast out.  Jesus didn’t let the demon walk out of the man, he was cast out.  Like the demon’s rear was kicked so hard he flew into the Abyss, and no demons are ever allowed back into this man again.  When the demon was cast out, this man’s speech was restored.  This is amazing, because if he was deaf, and must most of his life, he would not know how to use his mouth, or he would have to take a long time to learn.  But here he spoke.  I imagine that Jesus gave him language, and the ability to declare the wonders of God.  There was a crowd here now, and they were truly amazed, saying, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”  This has been the highest praise of the crowd so far about Jesus.  This is the land of Israel.  It was God’s country, the land of God’s people.  Great things have happened to the Israelites.  They established a flourishing kingdom, they witnessed God’s presence in temple they built, they have seen the great works of Elijah and Elisha, then they were exiled, but miraculously returned to their homeland, but nothing like this has ever been seen.  Might it be the time God has promised?  Might it be that God has sent his Messiah to come to earth?  All this is happening with the appearance of Jesus Christ.

But the Pharisees refused to see it that way.  Look at v.34, “But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.” Right after the high praise comes a low blow.  The Pharisees could not deny the miracles.  They could not deny the power that Jesus displayed.  But rather than affirming Jesus as the Messiah, the chosen one of God, they attributed his power to the devil.  They suggested that Jesus did these things because he is in union with the devil.  The devil has possessed Jesus.  These words are not only insulting, but they are blasphemous, because Jesus is God, there is no other, there is none higher.  It is blasphemous because Jesus has come to destroy the devil and his work, not to promote it.  The Pharisees could not deny the truth, but they refused to put their faith in Jesus, so their faith was instead on the teachings of men and demons.  No life could come from this, only judgment and destruction.

If your faith is not in God, it will be in men or demons.  There is only one faith, and one truth – and that truth is in Jesus Christ, the Messiah.  He is God in the flesh, and the Bible we read is not fiction, but historical documentation of God’s plan of salvation from the creation, the fall, to Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, to King David to Jesus Christ, to the acts of the apostles to spread the good news to the ends of the earth, to even the future in Revelation.  From the Bible we understand that God is the Creator, who created the world in 6 literal days, and the world was plunged into sin and death from the historical Adam and Eve, the ancestors of all mankind.  We learn about a God who gave us life, and about sin which caused all manner of death and destruction.  We learn about a righteous God who deals justly with wickedness.  We also learn about a gracious God who has come to heal our wounds, and die for our sins – so that our lives may be restored.  And this God came to earth, he proved who he was by miracles, but especially by his own resurrection from the dead.  This is the Jesus we have faith in, and when we trust in Jesus we believe in all of these things as well.

As we learned today, faith comes from God, and God gives faith through the preaching of the gospel.  Rom 10:17 says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is head through the word about Christ.”  As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! (Rom 10:15).”  We saw this faith in action, bringing us life, and bringing others to the source of life.  We saw the effects of faith today in a complete, total-body healing.  Bleeding wounds are healed, life is restored, eyes are opened, and speech is restored.  Jesus can do this!  We learned today that faith heals and gives sight, through the sick woman and blind men.  The healing has begun with faith in Christ.  Your soul and spirit will be healed because of the forgiveness of sins through Christ's death on the cross.  And God can and does still heal physically today, but though sometimes we may not be healed physically right away, or fully, we should never stop praying for the healing of ourselves and others.  Even if it is not full physical healing, for certain there is some level of healing as we come out of a sinful lifestyle to live a holy life.

Sometimes the Lord delays, or withholds an answer, so that we may learn faith.  We may need to learn that not our will, but God's will be done.  We may need to learn to really trust him, that he really does know best, and that you may see that he does all things well.  And he does.  So let us persevere in faith and keep praying.  In the end, he does promise complete physical and spiritual healing, whole, complete healing for everyone  - and that is when he comes again.  At that time, you will be delivered from all pain, suffering and even death.  You will be given a new body, and a glorious body.  The time will come soon enough, we need only endure a little while.  He gave us a glimpse of this promise, through the healing of the sick woman and restoring the sight to the blind.  And so it is important that we have sight, so that we may fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.  Let him touch your eyes.  Do you believe that Christ has died for your sins and will raise you up again to everlasting life?  Say, “Yes, Lord,” and according to your faith let it be done to you.

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Genesis 16:1-16

Key Verse: 16:13

So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

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