STUDY FOUR THE ELEMENT OF FAITH
Reading: Matt: 17:14-20
In this incident we hear Jesus remonstrating with his disciples over their lack of faith. The father of the sick boy had enough faith to bring his son to the disciples for healing, but 'they could not cure him.' That called forth from Jesus a sharp reproof: 'What an unbelieving and perverse generation:' And it was to his disciples he said it: 'Then Jesus spoke sternly to the boy, the devil left him and he was cured.'
How much faith is needed? And whose faith is required? The term faith-healing has largely fallen into disuse, as it was too often associated with painful scenes of disappointment in public healing services, where those not helped were made to feel it was their own fault for lack of faith. The onus was laid on the one seeking healing. How strange in comparison with Christ's rebuke to his own disciples for their lack of faith, when they failed to heal the epileptic boy. (Matt. 17:17)
Yet faith remains a strong factor. It need not be the patient's faith, although that is always of value. It can be the faith of those around him as we saw in Matt. 9:2. It can be the great faith of the one ministering. Faith for healing is not faith in a church, a creed or a ritual. It is a deep-down assurance that God can and will act to meet the need. There is what might be called a flash of faith, a sudden upsurging. There is also the steady, sustained day-by-day faith which sees no sudden answer, but which slowly brings improvement.
In Christ's ministry only one repeat-healing was necessary, and that was for the blind man in Mark 8:22-25. Read that incident. In our days few healings are spectacular and immediate. The majority are gradual, but then, those who minister are not Jesus, the man perfectly filled with the Spirit.
An interesting incident took place at the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. Read John 5: l-9. Here we have 'a crowd of sick people, blind, lame and paralysed'. (v.3) Jesus comes alone. Where are the disciples? He sees a man who he intuitively knows has been crippled for thirty-eight years. He asks him a strange question: 'Do you want to recover?' The man does not know who Jesus is. His thoughts are on the pool. His anxiety is to get into the water when it is disturbed, current belief being that an angel passed through it then. The Master's words were brief but effective: 'Rise to your feet, take up your bed and walk:'
Such was the authority in Jesus' voice, such was the power of His faith behind the words, that 'the man recovered instantly, took up his stretcher and began to walk.'
DISCUSS: Why did Jesus help only this one man among all the sick? Could it be that the Master was following the Spirit's guidance in seeking out just that one? What other reason could there be?
READ the continuation of the story in verses 10-15, where Jesus said to the man: 'Leave your sinful ways'.