In Luke’s Gospel, there are no less than 4 accounts of healing, which include Jesus saying to the one(s) healed – “your faith has made you well” – or “saved you.” But what does He really mean by that?
For some, this has been taken to mean that if I just have enough faith, or the right kind of faith, no matter my issue – it will be resolved the way I want. But is that really what’s going on here? I don’t think so.
In Luke’s order, the accounts run like this:
Luke 7:50. In this case, a woman of ill-repute – at least in the eyes of Simon the Pharisee – anointed Jesus with perfume, wept at His feet so that they needed dried with her own hair, and kissed them. It made everyone uncomfortable. In the exchange, Jesus tells the parable of one begin forgiven a great debt, versus one begin forgiven a smaller one – and He asks His host: Of the 2, which do you think will love the forgiver more? Simon correctly responds, that the one forgiven more would love more. Jesus then turns to the woman while still talking to Simon, commending her lavish outpouring while noting Simon’s lack of simple hospitality. In what way then did her faith “save her?” In that she believed Jesus could, and did, forgive her of her sins.
Note this then, her faith did not “believe” in the abstract. Her faith led her to look to Christ for what was needed. Do not miss this absolutely crucial concept. Faith by itself did (and does) nothing. Faith that bring us to trust Jesus for our needs – that is healing and saving faith. This gets reinforced in our second example.
Luke 8:48. Here is a woman who has been chronically ill for a dozen years. She is convinced that Jesus has the power to heal her. And even though as “unclean” she should not be carelessly navigating a public gathering, she presses through and touches the hem of His robe. Jesus senses it. And upon calling her out says: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
Once again we see that faith did not do this in a vacuum, as though faith had power in itself. What her faith did was bring her to Christ, and to trust HE could work. Faith does nothing on its own. Faith is neither a “work”, nor a generic cosmic force we can somehow tap into for our own uses, it is looking to Christ.
And note the nature of her faith. She did not imagine she needed Him to stand and make pronouncements, move mountains, still seas, rebuke storms or demons – she knew all she needed was the slightest touch. That grace and mercy are so grand, so expansive, that the slightest true touch – even of just His garment, will transform in the most unspeakably glorious and powerful way.
What we need every day, is the sense of our need being great enough, to press through the mob of all that claims our attention and seems to make Him distant, to but touch the hem of His robe. Lord Jesus, let me come to you – today! This is the place of prayer. This is how faith works. It simply brings us to look to and trust Him.
Our third occasion is in Luke 17:19. This takes place in a Samarian village where Jesus is appealed to by 10 people with leprosy. They cried out for mercy. And Jesus told them to go get examined by the priests to see if they were clean. One of them however was a Samaritan. He could not go to the priests, they would not have received him. But apprehending his healing, runs back to Jesus, praising God and falling at Jesus’ feet. And Jesus says to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
Now did his faith somehow how heal him apart from Jesus? No. What had his faith done? Same as with the 2 we’ve already looked at – it simply allowed him to recognize that his hope was in Jesus, and led him to call upon Jesus for his need. It didn’t heal him in some detached access to a cosmic force. Faith always inclines the soul to look to Christ. It does no performing on its own. Biblical faith always brings us to Him for our need. Our every need.
Luke 18:42. Lastly is the case of a blind man on the outskirts of Jericho. Hearing a commotion, he asked what it was. And finding out it was because Jesus of Nazareth was passing by – he cries out, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus tells other to bring the man to Him, and asks what the man wants. And the man says: “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus replies: “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.”
As with the 3 we’ve already seen, faith did not just operate in some mystical way. His faith did one thing – it prompted him to believe that Jesus was capable of meeting his need, that his need was mercy, and that that mercy was to be found in Jesus. And note, his faith was not that he would be able to see, but that Jesus was able to give him sight. It is the object of our faith makes all the difference.
In all four then we see the very same core concept: Faith does not somehow operate on its own. Faith, real faith, Biblical faith – simply leads us to seek Christ. If He is not the object of our faith, it isn’t faith, it is the pursuit of some magical power to get what we want.
Faith, is trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Trust in who He is, and believing what He has said.
Faith keeps us seeking and trusting Him. Period.