Faith. It is such a simple word. We put our faith in people around us, in the car we drive, in the law charged with protecting us, in the restaurant staff preparing our food. We even put our faith in chairs, believing each and every time we sit that they will hold us. Yet why is it sometimes so difficult to put our faith in Jesus? We can trust an inanimate object to not let us fall, yet when it comes to the Creator of the universe not letting us down, we doubt and we hesitate to believe.
There are some incredible examples of faith given to us in chapter 8 of the book of Matthew.
“And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” ~ Matthew 8:2-3
I love the faith of this man. He was an outcast from society, required to holler, “Unclean! Unclean!” any time people were near. Yet he had heard of Jesus and was willing to risk a reprimand to even draw near to Him. And what a great model of prayer we have in this account. He “came and worshiped Him.” When we approach the throne of God to present our requests to Him, shouldn’t we come as this man, with hearts humbled and filled with worship?
“Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” What faith! This leper recognized that Jesus had the power to make him clean, if He was willing, if it was His will to do so. He believed. This is how we should pray, knowing God can do it if He so chooses. Lord, I know You are able and have all the power to do this thing, if it is according to Your will to do so. I believe.
Then Jesus did a strange thing: He touched the leper. That was taboo in those times, because touching a leper was not only foolish – risking the contraction of the disease – but it also made you unclean according to the law of Moses. Can you imagine how soothing it must have been to that man, to feel the kind touch of another person? Wow. Jesus demonstrated His love for this man by touching and healing ~ “I am willing; be cleansed.” He could have just spoken the words, yet He chose to touch the man. All-encompassing, self-sacrificing, unconditional love!
The next verses of Matthew show us another example of simple, yet truly remarkable, faith.
“Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’ The centurion answered and said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, “Go,” and he goes; and to another, “Come,” and he comes; and to my servant, “Do this,” and he does it.’ When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!’…Then Jesus said to the centurion, ‘Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.’ And his servant was healed that same hour.” ~ Matthew 8:5-10, 13
Isn’t this awesome? The centurion approached Jesus and pleaded with Him, on another’s behalf! He had compassion for his servant, this man of his household, who was “dreadfully tormented”. And then, after presenting his need and request to Jesus, and after Jesus agreed to come and heal the man, the centurion recognized how unworthy he was before this great man, Jesus, the Son of God. Most amazing of all, he demonstrated remarkable faith – a Gentile; one of the enemies of Israel since he was part of the occupying army of the time! “Only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.” He knew that Jesus was a man of authority, and that there was no need for Jesus to come in person. If He simply spoke the word, it would be done. He believed. This is such a beautiful example for us!
Faith and prayer. Coming to Jesus, humble, worshipful, filled with compassion for others, recognizing our unworthiness, believing in His power and authority, trusting He will do it, should it be according to His will to do it.
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” ~ 1 John 5:14-15