I’ve often been quite confused about certain verses in Scripture where Jesus tells those he has healed “Your faith has made you well.”
Why it has confused me is because of all the faith-healing teachings I’ve received in my life. Most of faith-healing teaching revolves around faith being the secret ingredient to see you well, and if you’re sick and someone prays for you and you DON’T get well, you’re told “You don’t have enough faith.”
This has confused me. Just how much faith am I supposed to have to receive a healing? How do I know when I’ve got the ‘right amount’ of faith? I’m pretty sure I believe, I’m pretty sure I trust God to heal, and now you tell me I don’t have ‘enough’ trust? It doesn’t make sense – it’s impossible to have more ‘trust’ than just plain simple trust.
Jesus’ words “Your faith has made you well,” seen in Mark 5:34 to the women with the issue of blood (who just touched his garment and was made well); Mark 10:52 to a blind man who was persisting for Jesus to heal him; and Luke 17:19 to the leper who came back to thank Jesus for healing him (and many other places), have all been used to validate this kind of doctrine.
Plus, Jesus’ commendation to the centurion who had ‘great faith’ in Matt 8:5-13, where Jesus also says to the man “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed,” is used to further illustrate the point.
I’ve really battled with this as it doesn’t make sense. It makes ‘faith’ to be the power to see you healed, not God. If you have enough ‘faith’ (who knows when you do?) then you’re healed. Otherwise God is powerless?
I’ve been battling again with this yesterday, especially as I’ve been doing a study on Acts 3:16 where Peter has healed a cripple and says it was neither by their power or their piety (holiness) that it happened, but by the authority of Jesus. As I said above, I’ve often even heard people speak about faith being the ‘power’ to heal. That makes no sense whatsoever – how could trusting someone (a relational dynamic) be a ‘power’? This isn’t magic we’re dealing with.
But, lying in bed last night I think Jesus showed me something that really opened my mind and heart.
All of these people above didn’t really have any special ‘faith’. Jesus says their faith (which means ‘trust’, a believing that also incorporates some action) has made them well. The point was that they were ordinary people trusting as much as ordinary people can and do. They did nothing special except act on that trust, by going to Jesus, touching his robe, pleading to him, etc. They had as much faith as any normal person in the history of the world and today has ever had or can have.
When Jesus commends the Centurion for having great faith in Matthew 8, notice what he says in verse 10 – “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” Was Jesus commending the centurion as much as he was rebuking Israel? Sometimes we may miss the clear rebuke to Israel – Jesus is saying not even God’s people could do something as simple as the Centurion did. There was nothing special about his faith. The marvel is that Israel couldn’t even just trust in such a simple way – Israel was unable to do the simplest of things, because of the state of their hearts.
These are written down for our edification. There is nothing special about any of the people Jesus made well. They possessed no more faith than ordinary people — they were ordinary people! That’s the point. That’s what Jesus is illustrating..
In Luke 17 the disciples ask for Jesus to ‘increase their faith’ in vs 5. He answers by saying they need faith like a grain of mustard seed. We all know it’s small, and we also know that it can grow. But to trust God for healing is not difficult and it requires no major effort. You just have to do it – but it’s in the ‘doing it’, in the actual trusting, that we struggle. But if we believe, we believe, we don’t have to believe ‘more’ to see ourselves healed. There is no measure of ‘more believing’ – we can all believe as much as the next person, and that believing is enough.
Immediately after the disciples ask for their faith to be increased Jesus talks about unworthy servants – is he saying that trust (faith) is more than just doing what you’re told? Then it goes straight into the story of the lepers, where Jesus says to one of them ‘your faith has made you well’.
He didn’t do anything special, he came back and thanked Jesus when the others didn’t. But he did nothing ultimately special. He did something every single one of us has the ability to do. Every one of us have the ability to trust Jesus. Jesus keeps harping on people’s faith to show how simple it is, not to give us some ridiculous bar we must measure up to.
I think this makes a heck of a lot of more sense than what I’ve been taught previously. The only thing is, it needs to be put into practice, and that’s where I struggle. I need to risk it with Jesus and pray for others to be healed, trusting they will be. Is that easy? No. But it doesn’t require a great amount of faith – it requires the amount of trust in God that any human being has the ability to have – it just requires I do it.