fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Your Faith Has Made You Well

Your Faith Has Made You Well by Julie McAllen

When two persons of different faiths collide, it usually leads to a promotion of their own religion as being the one having the true God.

In fact, a Jewish man and a Samaritan woman had that conversation thousands of years ago. When she brought up the question of which tradition was correct, he responded as we might expect. He blatantly promoted his own religious tradition by saying, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” (John 4:22)

I doubt that surprised her. She was familiar with Jewish men and her own forefathers split from Judaism. However, what came next out of this man’s mouth did not give any indication that he was about to proselytize her into his Jewish tradition.

He said, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.” (John 4:23)

He said the Father was still seeking worshipers. Though he pointed out that the Jews were worshipping what they knew, he included others now by saying God Himself was looking for true seekers to worship in him in spirit regardless of their location or heritage.

Being familiar with the Pentateuch (5 Books of Moses) as the written Word of God, the woman drew from her understanding of the coming prophet in Deuteronomy 18:15 and said to the Jewish man at the well, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” (John 4:25)

She took the information she had and expressed faith in the one we now call Jesus Christ and it was he that she had encountered.

Later, Jesus came upon a lame man and healed him. The Jews took up a cause against that man for carrying his cot on the Sabbath and when it was discovered that it was Jesus who performed this healing, they accused him also of breaking the Sabbath law. The response Jesus gave to them lead into a revelation of what they missed in the Pentateuch that a Samaritan woman did not.

Jesus made the claim that their God had already made testimony about him as being the promised Messiah.

There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true. (John 5:32)

And to add to it, Jesus highlights the testimony of John the Baptist and also the works he has performed. But unlike the Samaritan woman who had faith in the writings of Moses by expecting the Messiah, Jesus claims the word of God did not abide in these religious Jews even though they diligently studied the content.

38 You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life…Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:38-47)

They had information but no faith that lead to eternal life.

In these two accounts it was about the acceptance of the promised Messiah based on faith in the promises of God recorded in the Old Testament. The Samaritan woman and the Jews both had knowledge of Moses’ writings about Jesus, but only the woman was blessed to know him as the Messiah. The Jewish leaders denied and later killed him.

But what about us who have accepted Jesus Christ for who he is? I wonder how many times we have everything we need to know but lack faith and thereby miss really knowing our Messiah.

The disciples who knew and loved their Lord, also acknowledged how difficult it is to forgive someone over and over as their Lord commanded, so they rightly asked for more faith. But it’s not more faith any of us need, it’s applying the mustard seed we have according to Jesus’ reply.

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. (Luke 17:5-6)

Application indicates obedience. As James 2:26 says, “faith without works is dead.” These Jewish disciples of Jesus were used to rules and regulations to be followed, but Jesus had already demonstrated miracles so perhaps they expected him to just grant them the power to forgive by saying “give us more faith.” Isn’t it interesting that rather than pouring out miraculous gifts magically transforming them into ready forgivers, Jesus turns the subject to obedience saying not to seek a reward but to just do what is expected of them?

7 “Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? 8 But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? 9 He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? 10 So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’” (Luke 17:7-10)

Obedience without reward. That’s what these Jews were used to isn’t it? How is this a lesson on faith then?

Jesus makes a sly introduction to grace in the next verses. In Luke 17:11-19, ten lepers ask for mercy, and there was no sudden on the spot healing from Jesus. Instead he tells them to go show themselves to the priests. And they don’t argue with him, they obey. But while they’re obediently traveling, all ten of them are healed. A miracle! However, what is the response? Only one returns to Jesus to glorify God, the true source of healing. Did the others think God could only be encountered through the priests? Did they think their healing was coincidence? Did they just take the gift without regard to the Giver? Or did they credit it to their own obedience and glorify themselves? They all obeyed Jesus’ command to show themselves to the priests and they all got healed, so it might appear the reward for obedience was their healing. But I think only one was rewarded. He was the one who returned to glorify God and encountered Jesus’ confirmation toward him by saying, “your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:19) He did not say it was the man’s obedience, but his faith that healed him. The others obeyed a religious rule they were already familiar with, but only one man sought out Jesus with thanksgiving. That man received an eternal reward on which to keep building. The rest just got a temporary, earthly cure. We don’t know whether or not they put faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah. God gives grace to the righteous and the unrighteous, the deserving and the undeserving, the grateful and ungrateful, but the reward was poured out abundantly on the one enabled to worship Jesus for who he is.

Do you see a pattern? The Samaritan woman and the legalistic Jews were both given enough information, but only one expressed faith and encountered Jesus for who he is. Ten lepers were all healed, but only one received confirmation from Jesus that his faith was true. The disciples admitted their weakness to forgive and asked for more faith, but Jesus confirmed they were already given enough. All were given enough. Prepared, he now turns their attention to parables on prayer.

Luke 18 opens with the story of the widow who keeps demanding legal protection from a judge. She pesters him until he concedes. Jesus uses this story to illustrate how God will bring about justice for his elect “who cry to Him day and night.” (Luke 18:7) He is asking them to obediently continue in diligent prayer. However, in the next story, he cautions not to turn prayer into self glorification by mere obedience devoid of faith in God.

9 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)

What do you suppose this all conveyed to the disciples when their initial question was about having enough faith to forgive? Jesus reminded them that they do have enough faith, they just need to apply it. He gives them instructions about obedience for obedience’s sake without expectation of a reward. The lesson being we must forgive because he’s asked us to, not because we’ll get a reward. Jesus himself demonstrated his free gift of healing to the ungrateful lepers who never rewarded him with a thank you. We can not earn the Lord’s grace by doing what is expected of us because he’s already given us all we need. Our mustard seed of faith ought to lead us to obey, but not to glory in our own righteousness as the Pharisee praying in the temple but to glorify him in recognizing our own need of forgiveness.

From the widow and the unrighteous judge, to the Pharisee and the tax collector in the temple, the lesson revolves around a connection between faith, obedience and prayer. What is God seeking? Those who simply obey him or those who have faith in the one he sent? A telltale sign is the key question set within the middle of this context: “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)

What is this faith?

Perhaps you have been rewarded by a merciful gift of healing as all 10 lepers were given, the resource of Scriptural knowledge as the Jews and Samaritans had, or the privilege of being in the temple of prayer as the Pharisee and the tax collector, but have you glorifed God by seeking the one he sent and heard him confirm, “your faith has made you well?”

Even when no more healings can be sought and death comes, when the memory fades and gifts of knowledge can no longer be employed, when age prevents the utterance of an eloquent prayer, we can look forward to the final reward of “well done” not based solely on the obedience we showed, but more importantly when he confirms the faith he graciously put in us.

And that faith has already made us well.

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

 

 

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October 25, 2012 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

   

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