As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”
When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they replied.
Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.
While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”
But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.” (New International Version)
Every day the news is a steady stream of disease, death, war, and outright human suffering. It’s as if the phrase, “slow news cycle,” is a thing of the past.
As we stare into the face of trouble, I find myself uttering the ancient prayer of the Church: “Lord have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord have mercy and grant us your peace.”
We collectively feel the weight of the world’s suffering, experience the heaviness of concern for family and friends, and perhaps wonder how much more people can take.
It’s in the topsy-turvy times that I come back again and again to the deep spiritual convictions which inform what I do each day. One of those underlying creeds and affirmations is this:
Jesus is trustworthy, no matter whether my faith or the faith of others is small or great.
In our Gospel lesson for today, two blind men were healed according to their faith in Jesus. The diverse healing accounts of Jesus in the New Testament, whether the faith was large or small in those healed, leads me to the conclusion that:
It isn’t faith itself that heals, saves, or transforms – it is Jesus.
All the healing accounts in the New Testament Gospels have something in common: They all directly point to Jesus as the object of faith.
It isn’t about the level or amount of faith, but about where the faith is placed.
For the Christian, faith itself doesn’t mean much if it isn’t in Jesus.
If I place a large and sincere faith in an inanimate object such as money; in a position of power; or, even in my own independence, my faith isn’t worth much.
If I have a huge faith in a doctor or a psychiatrist to heal my body or my mind, I will quickly discover there are limits to their abilities.
If I have a confident faith that my family will meet all my needs, my faith will eventually run into failure when they let me down. That’s because the ultimate object of faith is Jesus.
If all my faith eggs are in the church basket, my faith will eventually face a crisis because it is a misplaced faith. Furthermore, the answer I provide for others is not simply getting them to attend church or to adopt my moral code.
We know with certainty that circumstances change, as everyday seems to bring new levels and permutations of unprecedented alterations to our lives – and through it all, Jesus remains as the ever-present Savior, seated at the right hand of God ceaselessly interceding on behalf of those who offer even the slightest mustard seed of faith.
“For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”Jesus (Matthew 17:20-21, NRSV)
It says something about our modern Western society that whenever we hear the words of Jesus on faith that we interpret the mountain moving as an immediate event that happens almost instantaneous, like a snap of the finger. Yet, there is nothing in those words that says that. There is also nothing that says an individual necessarily does it.
The fact of the matter is this: Jesus heals, transforms, and delivers people from sickness, sin, trouble, and overwhelming circumstances in his own good time, not ours.
Just because we pray without ceasing for days, weeks, months, and even years for something doesn’t mean we lack faith if the prayer isn’t answered immediately. It could be that God wants others involved, maybe even across generations, for the impossible mountain to be moved.
It is misplaced faith which expects microwave results. Faith placed appropriately in Jesus as the object of belief discerns that faithful prayer is consistently prayed until there is an answer.
Healing and restoration will happen – just maybe not always how or when we think it will.
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep me both outwardly in my body and inwardly in my soul, that I may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.