The Griper - May 22, 2008 - 4:40 AM
“25) And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26) She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27) When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak, 28) because she thought, ‘If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.’ 29) Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 30) At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from Him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched My clothes?’ 31) ‘You see the people crowding against you,’ His disciples answered, ‘and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?’ 32) But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33) Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at His feet and, trembling with fear, told Him the whole truth. 34) He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’” Mark 5:25-34 (NIV)
“34) When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35) And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to Him 36) and begged Him to let the sick just touch the edge of His cloak, and all who touched Him were healed.” Matthew 14:34-36 (NIV)
“18) Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19) When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20) When Jesus saw their faith, He said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’ 21) The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ 22) Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, ‘ 23) Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk?’ 24) But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . .’ He said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ 25) Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26) Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, ‘We have seen remarkable things today.’” Luke 5:18-26 (NIV)
Aside from the faith of the sick man's friends in the above story, this man was also forgiven of sins, which shows us that we do not have to be perfect in order to find healing and victory over that which we struggle with.
The key to the next story below is the question Jesus asks "Do you wish to be well. Often people become so used to their sickness, as well as weadnesses and handicaps that they don't even particularly want to be well, for after all, if we could actually overcome this or that, than perhaps in our health, we might actually be expected to do a little more than we've been doing. Now isn't that a scary thought?
"2) Now there is in Jerusalem, by the sheep gate, a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porticoes. 3) In these, lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame and withered, (waiting for the moving of the waters, 4) For an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water. Whosoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with Which he was afflicted.) 5) A man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6) When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, 'Do you wish to get well?' 7) The sick man answered Him, 'Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.' 8) Jesus said to him, 'Get up. Take up your pallet and walk.' 9) Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk." John 5:2-9 (NASB)
The next story is pretty amazing because Jesus actually raises someone who is dead. And once again it is based on faith.
“32) When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ 33) When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34) ‘Where have you laid him?’ He asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. 35) Jesus wept. 36) Then the Jews said, ‘See how He loved him!’ 37) But some of them said, ‘Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’ 38) Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39) ‘Take away the stone,’ He said. ‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.’ 40) Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ 41) So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42) I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’ 43) When He had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 44) The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’ 45) Therefore, many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.” John 11:32-45 (NIV)
A study on faith would not be complete without the verses that relate to the Mustard Seed. We have all heard the common verse "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'” Matthew 17:20 (NIV), yet what I find interesting is the context which is rarely ever mentioned. The context of this verse is a situation in which Jesus' disciples were not able to do the healing and this shows us that faith, even though it is as small as a Mustard Seed, is not necessarily easy.
“14) When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15) ‘Lord, have mercy on my son’ he said. ‘He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16) I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.’ 17) ‘O unbelieving and perverse generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.’ 18) Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment. 19) Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, ‘Why couldn't we drive it out?’ 20) He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'” Matthew 17:14-20 (NIV)
Let's take a closer look at what the Mustard Seed is and why Jesus chose this particular analogy to describe faith. From the next verse, we learn that the Mustard Seed begins very small, but grows into a very large plant. This implies a growing process, not something that is accomplished over night.
“31) He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32) Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.’” Matthew 13:31-32 (NIV)
Aside from the common "Moving Mountains" verse, Matthew 17:20, there is also a similar verse about the moving of a mulberry tree that is quoted less often.
"5) The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ 6) He replied, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.’” Luke 17:5-6 (NIV)
Here is another of my favorites. I like this next story because it's about how Jesus healed even though the faith of the person involved was not perfect. The man was humble, though, and the Bible also teaches how God give grace to the humble. "But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says; 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'" James 4:6 (NIV)
"17) A man in the crowd answered, 'Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18) Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.' 19) 'O unbelieving generation,' Jesus replied, 'how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.' 20) So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21) Jesus asked the boy's father, 'How long has he been like this?' "From childhood," he answered. 22) 'It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.' 23) 'If you can'?' said Jesus. 'Everything is possible for him who believes.' 24) Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, 'I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief!" 25) When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. 'You deaf and mute spirit,' he said, 'I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.' 26) The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, 'He's dead.' 27) But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up." Mark 9:17-27 (NIV)
The last verse that I want to share relates to Griper's closing statement in his poem, in which he says, "Look for the soul within us, that be where life be found. Seek it there."
“20) Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21) nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you.’” Luke 17:20-21 (NIV)