The Power Of Faith

Scripture Reading: Matthew 9:18-34

Only comparatively few of our Lord’s healings are recorded. He seems never to have refused to heal any who came to Him or were brought to Him. Besides, He healed some for whom no one interceded. Here was a ruler — an exceptional case, for the rulers were not His friends. Probably this man’s great distress led him to seek healing for his child even in spite of his dislike of Jesus. The ruler and his prejudice were lost in the father.

The man came himself, saying, “My daughter is even now dead.” Trouble comes just as inevitably and as resistlessly to the mansions of the great and rich as to the homes of the lowly and poor. None are exempt. We can build no walls and set up no doors to exclude sickness and death. This is one lesson. Another is that when sickness or any other trouble comes to us, we ought to send for Christ. We are to send for physicians, too, in sickness. They are God’s ministers of healing. Usually God requires our cooperation in all that He does for us. But we should also send for Christ. He alone has original power to heal. Life is His gift and is under His care. Health is His alone to give. Medicines unblessed by Him give no relief. Only at His bidding can anyone be restored from illness. While we use all the means within our reach, we should use them with prayer for Divine blessing on them and in dependence on Divine power. Whenever anyone is sick in our house we should send for Jesus and put the case in His hands.

Jesus was always eager to help those in trouble. He arose at once at the ruler’s request and followed him to his home. It seems strange, when we think who the man was, probably unfriendly to Jesus, that He should so quickly rise and follow this ruler. But it was always thus. He did not wait to make inquiry concerning the man, whether he was worthy or not before going with him. The man that needed Him was the man He wanted. In this alacrity in doing good Jesus was only showing the alertness of Divine love. In heavenly glory now He is as quick to hear and as prompt to answer our cries as He was that day in His earthly humiliation. He is always at our call. He never has so much to do or so many calls to answer that He cannot attend to our case. Indeed, when we come to Him with any need, He has no other thing to do but attend to us. We should be like our Master in all this. We should be quick to respond to the calls of need and distress about us. We ought to train our hearts to sympathy and thoughtfulness, and our hands to quick, gentle ministry in Christ’s name.

Then came an interruption as the Master was hastening with the ruler to his house. “Behold, a woman… came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment.” The street was thronged with persons waiting for an opportunity to get near to the Healer. The “hem of His garment” is always within reach of earth’s sufferers. He has gone up now on high, out of our sight, but His garment floats everywhere. We never can get beyond the sweep of its folds. We can always come near enough to Christ to reach out a trembling finger and touch His garment and find healing. Of course, we must not make a mistake about this border. It is not a crucifix, nor is it some relic of a dead saint, nor is it a bit of the wood of the true cross. It is not even the Bible, for touching the Bible will do no one good. Nor is it the Church and its ordinances; for we may belong to the Church and observe its ordinances, and get no benefit to ourselves. To touch the border of Christ’s garment is to touch Christ Himself. His garment is His life, His love, His Spirit, His grace.

A human physician, if hurrying on such an errand, would probably have refused to listen to any calls for help on the way, as the ruler’s child was actually dying. But Jesus stopped quietly and turned to see the woman who had touched Him. Mark says He asked, “Who touched My garments?” How did He know that one touch amid all the jostling of the crowd? The multitudes were close about Him, pressing up against Him. Many of them touched Him. The disciples thought it strange that He should ask such a question. The people could not help touching Him. But there was one touch different from all the rest. There was something in it which sent a thrill through Him. There was a heart’s cry in it, a piteous, earnest supplication. It was a touch of faith. It was not like the jostling of the crowd — an accidental or unconscious touch, the mere touch of nearness. It was intentional. There was a soul’s cry in it. So, amid all the rude pressure of the multitude, He recognized it and turned about to see her that had done this thing.

Jesus always knows the touch of true faith and prayer among all the touches of this great world. In one sense all men are near to Him, for He is everywhere present. We cannot move without pressing up against Him. But when among all earth’s millions one person intentionally reaches out a hand to feel for Him, to touch him with a purpose, with a longing or a desire, to seek for some blessing, or to crave some help, He instantly knows the pressure of that touch and turns to answer it. He knows when a hungry heart wants Him, no matter how obscure the person, how poor, or how hidden in the crowd.

Notice His graciousness in answering the woman’s prayer. “Jesus turning and seeing her said, Daughter, be of good cheer.” This was a bit of Christ’s wayside work. He was hastening with Jarius to his home, to restore his dying child, and healed this poor woman on the way. We would call it incidental work, unpurposed, unplanned. The things we set out in the morning to do are not by any means all the things that we do in any well spent day. If we have the life of Christ in us, everyone that touches us gets some blessing from us. While busy at our work we speak kindly to those who meet us or who are near us, and an influence of warmth, cheer or encouragement, or an inspiration toward better living, goes from us to them. We meet one in trouble as we hurry by, and stop to give a word of comfort. We hear of a case of distress and we send or carry relief. Thus, if we have the spirit of Christ, our wayside service will be a most valuable and important part of our work in this world.

We do not know how long Jesus was detained in healing and comforting the woman on the way. “Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the flute-players.” The child was dead and they were preparing for the funeral. So it seemed that He had tarried too long on the way. To us it appears that He ought not to have stopped at all to heal or talk with the woman. She could have waited. The child of Jarius was dying and there was not a moment to lose. But when we read the story through to the end we are glad that He did stop to help the woman. We learn form His delay that Jesus never is in a hurry. He is never so much engrossed in one case of need that He cannot stop to consider another. He is never so pressed for time that we have to wait our turn. No matter what He is doing, He will always hear instantly our cry for need. Another thing we learn from this delay is that Jesus never comes too late; never waits too long. True, the ruler’s child died while he lingered, but this only gave Him an opportunity for a greater miracle. He delayed that He might do a more glorious work for this family. There is always some good reason for it when Christ seems to delay to answer our prayers or come to our help. He delays that He may do more for us in the end.

“The maid is not dead, but sleepeth.” This was Christ’s word always about death. He said His friend Lazarus was asleep. He says the same of all His friends. They are not dead. Indeed, they never lived so really, so richly, so fully, as they live when we call them dead. They are away from all the limitations of earthly life, set free from the hampering prison of the flesh, cleansed of all sin, “spirits of just men made perfect.” Christ changed the whole aspect of death for His people. To them it is but the passage to life — rich, blessed, glorious life. Even bodily death is a sleep, and sleep is not a terrible experience. It is restful and refreshing, and then we wake again from sleep and live on beyond it. So the body sleeps, and will rise again renewed and wearing immortal beauty. Christ called this child from her sleep very soon; it will be longer before He will call those whom we lay down in death’s sleep, but He will surely wake them in His own time, in the blessed, glorious morning. It is wonderful comfort to us to know that Christ has care of our sleeping dead and has the keys of their graves and can call them when He will.

Another phase of human need is met in the next incident. “Two blind men followed Him.” There are a great many people blind in anther way. They can see certain things, but certain other things they cannot see at all. They can see mountains and plains and blue skies, and human faces, and money and real estate, and all earthly things; but they cannot see God, nor heaven, nor the beauty of holiness, nor the inheritance of believers, nor any of the unseen things of blessedness and Divine glory. They can see only material things, which are neither enduring nor eternal; but they cannot see spiritual things, which alone are real. Natural blindness is a sore loss. A blind man misses all the glorious beauty of this world. He cannot see where to go and has to be led by the hand. But spiritual blindness is an infinitely more sore loss. Christ alone could give sight to the blind. He opened eyes that had always been closed. He alone can open the eyes of the spiritually blind. If we cannot see spiritual things, we should call upon Christ to have mercy upon us.

Always faith was required. “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” The men must have faith before Jesus could heal them. When we come to Him asking Him to do anything for us, He wants to know if we believe that He is able to do it. Once a father came to Him for his demonic son, and his prayer was, “If Thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us.” But the “if” marred the request — the father was not sure that Jesus could cure his son, and Jesus sent him back to get a better faith. “If thou canst!” He answered. “All things are possible to him that believeth.” As soon as the man could say, “Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief,” Jesus cured the boy (Mark 9:22-24). May it not be that the reason why many of our prayers are not answered because we do not believe that Christ is able to do what we ask of Him? If we can believe, He can give what we ask. If we cannot believe, He cannot do anything for us.