Measure of Faith
Like many tangible and observable elements and characteristics of our world, faith too seems to be measurable. Scripture is full of accounts in which faith is considered to be “little” and conversely, “great”. Read the following accounts and reflect upon each of their individual contexts and applications.
Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.” The royal official *said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus *said to him, “Go; your son lives.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. As he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his son was living. So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives”; and he himself believed and his whole household. This is again a second sign that Jesus performed when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.
In John 4, we read the account of Jesus healing the son of the royal official. Jesus responds to the royal official with a faith revealing statement when He says, “’Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.’” I’d like to pull your attention to the seeing portion of Jesus’ quote. The implication is that the royal official believed that Jesus had to be in the presence of his son in order to heal him. The royal officials belief that Jesus’ healing power was limited to physical location is further supported by his plea when he says, “’Sir, come down before my child dies.’” Keep this account in mind as we move to the next.
And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” Jesus *said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment.
Matthew 8 has a vast depth of information but keeping to topic, let’s focus on the following: We can easily make a parallel of the situation occurring here in Matthew 8:5-13 with the centurion and that of John 4:46-54 with the royal official – both of which requesting that the Lord heal a 3rd party in a separate location. In Matthew 8, Jesus tells the centurion to take Him to the sick servant. Jesus was obviously willing and ready to heal this man but the centurion, recognizing the power of the Lord, understood that there was no need for Christ to travel to the location of the 3rd party for Him to perform a miracle. The centurion was not only aware that God was all powerful and capable of such a thing but also that Christ was God in the flesh. The centurion really understood who Jesus was. Jesus is “marveled” by the centurion’s response! Marveled! This is certainly one of the most memorable accounts in scripture for me simply because of the Lord’s excitement. In modern terminology, I can imagine Jesus saying something to the effect of, “Now this guy gets it!” Jesus also takes advantage of the centurion’s “great faith” and instructs the crowds that “great faith” looks like this.
The situations are undeniably similar but it’s the outcome of each that really leaves you with a lesson in the difference between “little” (Matthew 8:26) and “great” faith. Jesus’ time on this earth was remarkable. The staggering amount of knowledge of wisdom alone is a faith builder. Let’s take a look at one more account and further drive home the lessons that are found in Matthew 8 and John 4.
And He went off with him; and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him. A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse— after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”
Yet another account of faith not bound by the perception of limitation. This sick woman in Mark 5, theorized that attaining the physical attention of the Lord was not required in order for her to be healed. Instead, she suggested to herself that she could be healed by simply touching the Lord’s garment. With a more complete picture of scripture and context, we see that the sick woman was not healed because she was able to touch the garment of Christ but rather by her faith. She too, as the centurion in Matthew 8, expressed a belief in God’s almighty and namely, limitless power.
We can take much away from these astounding examples of faith. These individuals understood – if not initially then certainly afterward – that faith isn’t something of this world (tangible with the hands or reachable by travel, etc). We too can exercise this type of raw faith. Since we do not have Christ in the flesh to speak to us, we must consume the word of God daily in order to receive that which he revealed.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
Let us strive to build our faith; and to be remembered for great faith. I’ll leave you with one last account of a man named Noah:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.