We all know Jesus healed the sick. But were healings the most important thing to Him, or was there something greater?
Turn to Mt. 9: 27-31. Two blind men come up to Jesus. They recognize him as the son of David, the fulfillment of the Messianic hope of the people of Israel. They beg him for mercy; they ask to be healed. They follow him to the house. In the house, he turns to them and asks them:
“Do you believe that I can do this for you?”
It’s strange question. Why does it matter whether they believe Jesus can heal them? Why not just assess their need and respond to it?
With this question, Jesus is spotlighting the importance of faith. He continues the point. They say, yes, Lord, we believe and, in response, He touches their eyes. But He doesn’t then say: you are healed or I have healed you – both of which would have made sense. He says, instead:
“According to your faith, let it be done to you,” after which they are healed.
Again this emphasis on faith. Why? What is Jesus’ intent here?
I think Jesus wants His disciples to understand that faith is a motive principle. It’s like a fulcrum between earth and heaven; faith causes heaven to move on earth. This becomes clearer if we look at another exchange when Jesus emphasizes the importance of faith at a time of healing.
Turn to Mark 5:21-34. Jesus is in a big crowd, walking with Jairus, the head of the synagogue in Capharnaum. They are making their way through town, to Jairus’ house, to attend to his sick daughter. Jairus is a person of importance. Exactly the kind of guy you would want in your network. If Jesus were particularly focused on building a strong team, he would take good care of Jairus’ daughter.
Instead, on the way, Jesus takes an unusual sidestep. There is a desperate woman in the crowd; she has been sick for 12 years. She is not an important person; she suffers from a hemorrhages, rendering her ritually impure. You could think of her as an untouchable. She is too ashamed to approach Jesus directly, face to face. But she has great faith and believes that if she just touches the hem of his garment, from the rear, she will be healed.
She does so and, yes, she is healed. There’s just one problem: Jesus senses that a power has gone out from Him; He knows someone has touched him with great faith and that they have been healed. He stops walking, turns around and says: “Who has touched my clothes?”
Think about this. Jesus is busy. This woman has already been healed. He has other places to get to, important places. Jairus is a man of influence, whereas this woman is an untouchable. Why not just move on? The healing has happened; it’s done, right?
Wrong. Jesus has something else in mind. He continues to wait and to look for the person who touched him. The woman, in trepidation, comes forward; tells her whole story. Now Jesus can reveal his true priority.
“Daughter,” He says, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
Daughter, your faith has saved you. For Jesus, the healing was not the point. The point is to let her know that she is not an untouchable, she is a daughter, which is to say that she has a Father. The point is to let this daughter of God to know – without shame, without a doubt – that when she cried out to heaven, the Father’s heart sprang into action. Her prayer moved the Father’s heart. Her faith saved her.
I look at it like this: the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment was already healed. But Jesus wants her and the other disciples around her to know why she was healed. So he calls her forward to make clear to the crowd that faith is the thing to celebrate here; that faith has the power to move the heart of God.
Think of it this way: What would you do if your youngest child came into your office, tears running down her cheek, and poured forth a deep need of her heart? If she asked to you help her, what would you do?
You would spring into action. You would move what needed to be moved. You would put into concrete expression the deep love you feel for her in your heart.
It is the same with faith and the heart of God. When a prayer is raised to heaven – in need, in truth, in trust – it causes the heart of God to spring into action. Faith causes God to move. It causes the invisible love of the Father to become visible.
This is a magnificent wonder. It is very good news. Jesus wants to make sure his disciples know it.
Healings are important; but discovering that the heart of God is turned toward us as a father to a child is more important. To know that God moves, as a father, when a cry of faith reaches his ears is a revelation of uncreated love; it’s an unveiling of the invisible.
Lord Jesus Christ, you reveal to your disciples that faith is a fulcrum between earth and heaven, capable of moving heaven to act on earth. As a child’s plea moves the heart of her father, so a cry – in need, in truth, in trust – will move the heart of God. A cry of faith will draw into the visible the Father’s invisible love. Lord Jesus, you are the icon of the Father. You make visible the love of the Father. I believe, help my unbelief.