“And just then some people were carrying a paralysed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take hear, son; your sins are forgiven'” (Matthew 9:2).
“Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well” (Matthew 9:22).
“The he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done to you'” (Matthew 9:29).
The first reading is about the four un-named friends who bring a man paralysed to be healed by Jesus. The second reading is about a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhaging for twelve years. The final reading is about two blind men who pleaded with Jesus to heal them. In each of the readings it seems as if the faith of the people involved leads to healing.
One of the confusing things about these passages is that the way we use the word “faith” is quite different than the way the New Testament writers meant by “faith.”
In modern day usage faith has to more to do with our belief and our faith. Faith is something we do.
The New Testament usage is quite different. The Greek word for faith, pistis, has to do with God and what God does. Faith is always from God, and never something that we produce. If faith comes from or is birthed from us, it is not biblical faith. Faith is always God’s work not our’s. Faith is always God’s work because God’s is not only the giver of faith but the guarantor of faith.
If the miracles of Jesus depended on how much faith we have, and if we just have enough faith it must always lead to healing. But that’s not how healing works because that’s not how God works.
There are certainly times when prayers for healing have led to healing. But it doesn’t always work that way. If that were the case very few Christians would ever die of disease or illness, or worse yet, Christian who die of illness are people who just didn’t have enough faith! That’s just bad theology.
Faith is God’s gift. Faith is God’s work. This is good news because in healing and in death, God is still good and God is still sovereign. God is still good and God is still sovereign in both when God heals and even in death because this is not our home, this is not our destiny. We were created for eternity and because faith gives us access to eternal life with Christ death and illness can’t ever take that away from us.
God is the giver and the guarantor of faith because faith is God’s work and God’s gift.
That’s our confidence. That’s our hope. Nothing in the created universe can separate us from the love of God.