Your faith has healed you

Mar 5:21–43 includes an account of Jesus healing a sick woman and raising a dead child to life; we'll look at them in the order in which they took place.

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered round him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, 'My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.' So Jesus went with him. (Mar 5:21–24a)

Having driven a legion of demons out of two men on the east side of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus then returned to the west side. Soon after his arrival a synagogue ruler begged him to come and heal his daughter who was dying.

The first thing we note is that the man was desperate; his daughter was dying and he didn't want to lose her. Desperate people will do desperate things to achieve their objectives and, even though a large crowd was present, this man of standing in the community fell at our Lord's feet and begged him to heal his daughter.

There is no record in the Gospels of Jesus refusing to heal anyone when it was requested of him, which should give us faith to pray for our own healing. Many pray: 'Lord, please heal me,' and then add: '…if it is your will.' That shows they're not sure it is God's will to heal them.

James says that those who ask God for wisdom, but doubt they'll receive it, should not expect to receive anything from the Lord; they are double-minded, unstable in all they do (Jam 1:5–8). Meditate on that truth. God wants us to be firm in our belief and in our faith. Why? Because he does things for us according to our faith (Mat 9:29).

In Mar 1:40–41 a man with leprosy fell on his knees and said, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.' Jesus reached out his hand and said, 'I am willing. Be clean!'

Leprosy, under the Law, made a person unclean before God (Lev 13:1–3); and uncleanness symbolized sin. So, in answer to his request, Jesus healed the man physically and spiritually. He did the same in Mar 2:1–12.

Jesus is always willing to heal our bodies. He's as willing to heal our bodies as he is to forgive us our sins; and the Bible tells us not to forget that fact (Psa 103:1–3).

The Bible says that faith is being sure (not doubting) of what we hope for and certain of what we do not (yet) see (Heb 11:1). The Greek word translated 'hope for' in that verse (elpizo), is not the wishful thinking kind of hope we tend to associate with the word, but rather a confident expectation of what we know is going to happen. That is faith.

An incurable disease

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. (Mar 5:24b–26)

We're not told the cause of this woman's problem but it was probably of a gynaecological nature—the sort that would be cured by a hysterectomy today. However in Jesus' day it appeared to be incurable. She'd sought the help of many doctors and had spent all she had, but instead of getting better she'd grown worse.

There is no doubt that medical science has progressed rapidly in recent years. Modern drugs and the knowledge and expertise of doctors and surgeons have made many previously incurable conditions curable, and I thank God for that. But, even so, there are still many diseases mankind cannot cure.

Having such facilities available to us is good in one sense, but it doesn't help our faith. If we trust only in medical science how will our faith in God grow? Jesus wants us to put our faith in him in every area of our lives, and that includes the healing of our bodies which, after all, are temples of his Spirit (1Co 6:19).

I'm not against the medical profession in any way—I have an excellent doctor and dentist—but if anything goes wrong with my body I go to the Lord and ask him to heal me. If, after prayer, I feel he wants me to go to my doctor, then I go, but only as the Lord leads. And I still continue to pray, because my faith is in God and not in human beings.

In the Old Testament we read:

In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians. Then in the forty-first year of his reign Asa died and rested with his fathers. (2Ch 16:12–13)

I think that was sad both for Asa and the Lord. The Lord wants us to come to him with our sicknesses and diseases. If he sends us to a doctor, that's fine, but it's him we should go to first. The God who created us is the one who can heal us.

Faith is like a muscle: it only strengthens when we exercise it. If we never exercise our faith, it will remain weak and undeveloped. Because this woman had an incurable disease she had to go to Jesus because no one else could help her—and it was her faith, as we shall see, that healed her.

Who touched me?

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, 'If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.' Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

At once Jesus realised that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, 'Who touched my clothes?'

'You see the people crowding against you,' his disciples answered, 'and yet you can ask, "Who touched me?" '

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.' (Mar 5:27–34)

When the woman heard about Jesus—how he'd given sight to the blind, opened the ears of the deaf, and cleansed the lepers—she put her faith in him. She said, 'What Jesus has done for these people, he will also do for me. If I just touch his clothes I know I'll be healed.' And, immediately she touched him, her bleeding stopped.

The woman had to go to the Lord and physically touch him to be healed, but we touch the Lord through prayer and, if necessary, through fasting.

The Bible then says something very interesting: it says that Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. The woman had come up behind him in the crowd and touched his robe and, immediately she touched him, power had left him.

Think about that. That means that Jesus had nothing to do with her healing: the moment she touched him in faith she was healed automatically.

He turned around in the crowd and said, 'Who touched my clothes?' His disciples said, 'What do you mean, who touched your clothes? You're in the middle of a crowd. There are many people touching you.' But Jesus meant: 'Who touched me in faith?' Jesus always hears the prayer that's offered in faith; and faith in God releases his power into our lives.

The woman touched Jesus in faith and was instantly healed. Jesus couldn't stop it; he had no control over it. It was as if she'd touched an electric cable—it was instant. All he knew was that power had gone out from him.

The woman knew she'd been healed but was afraid of the consequences because, according to the Law, any woman with a bodily discharge was ceremonially unclean and, if she touched anyone else, she would make the person she touched unclean.

That person would then have to wash their clothes, bathe with water, and would be unclean till evening (Lev 15:25–27)—something a Jewish rabbi would not have been pleased about. But Jesus said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace [don't worry about what you've done] and be freed from your suffering.'

Note that Jesus didn't say that he had healed her, but that her faith had healed her: Jesus had merely been the channel through which her healing had come.

Faith releases God's power and blessing into our lives but, as we'll see in the next chapter, lack of faith can prevent God's power being released into our lives.

Do not doubt

While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. 'Your daughter is dead,' they said. 'Why bother the teacher any more?'

Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, 'Don't be afraid; just believe.' (Mar 5:35–36)

Why did Jesus tell the synagogue ruler not to be afraid; he could simply have told him to believe? The reason he told him to not be afraid was because fear brings doubt, and doubt kills faith.

In Mat 14:25–31, Jesus came to his disciples walking on the water. Peter said to him, 'Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water.' Jesus said, 'Come.' So Peter got out of the boat and started to walk, but when he saw the wind he became afraid and began to sink. Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. 'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?'

Peter was doing fine until he saw the wind and then he became afraid. His fear caused him to doubt and, as soon as he doubted, his faith evaporated and he began to sink. It was clearly God's will that he walked on the water, but fear and doubt robbed him of what God wanted him to have and to do.

As we've already seen, James says that those who doubt should not think they'll receive anything from the Lord; and we can see why that is so: doubt kills faith and doubt robs us of faith.

When you're standing in faith for something, don't look at the circumstances around you—they can make you afraid and cause you to doubt—keep your eyes on Jesus!

The resurrection of the dead

He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, 'Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.' But they laughed at him. (Mar 5:37–40a)

When the men came from Jairus' home to tell him that his daughter had died, they said, 'Why bother the teacher anymore?' meaning, 'Don't bother him; it's too late; she's dead.' They had faith to believe he could heal her, but not that he could raise her from the dead.

But why did she die anyway? Doesn't God hold the power of life and death? Of course he does. Was it because Jesus was late in arriving? No. I don't believe our Lord was late for anything: he was always in the centre of his Father's will. In that case the girl died for a reason, and it was the same reason for which Lazarus died.

If you look at the accounts of Jesus raising Lazarus and Jairus' daughter from the dead, you will find a common factor: on both occasions Jesus described them as being asleep (Joh 11:11; Mar 5:39). That phrase is used in the New Testament to describe those who have died with faith in Christ (1Th 4:13–14).

The people at Jairus' home were grieving like the rest of mankind who have no hope. As far as they were concerned the girl had died and that was the end of it. But Jesus said she wasn't dead, she was asleep (meaning the sleep of death). Those who sleep (die) in Christ will awake and live again at the resurrection at the last day (Joh 11:24).

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead he said, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Lazarus, come out!' And Lazarus walked out of the tomb (Joh 11:25, 43–44). Every time Jesus raised someone from the dead he proved that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked (Act 24:15–16).

Death is not the end of life for anyone. After being raised from the dead the righteous will go to eternal life and the wicked to eternal punishment (Rev 20:11–15; Mat 25:31–46).

After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, 'Talitha koum!' (which means, 'Little girl, I say to you, get up!'). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. (Mar 5:40b–43)

Jesus put all the wailing people out of the house before he raised the girl from the dead. He did that because unbelief has a negative effect on faith. Unbelief can stop miracles from happening.

Those who were present believed but, even so, when they saw the girl get up and walk around they were amazed. Jesus then told them not to tell anyone about it.

We saw in Mar 1:38–39, that the Father had sent Jesus primarily to preach the kingdom of God. He healed the sick, drove out demons and raised the dead—which was also his Father's will (Joh 5:19)—but that was not his prime ministry.

Those acts of power demonstrated God's love and compassion and proved that Jesus had been sent by the Father (Joh 14:11). But large crowds made it difficult for him to travel around and preach so, for logistical reasons, he told them to keep the miracle to themselves.

A prophet without honour

Jesus left there and went to his home town, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

'Where did this man get these things?' they asked. 'What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?' And they took offence at him. (Mar 6:1–3)

Even though many who heard Jesus teach in his home town were amazed, some took offence at him and, as disciples of our Lord, we can expect the same reaction from people we know (Joh 15:18–20).

Not everyone we speak to in the name of Christ will accept what we say—especially those who know us personally. In fact, being known by those we speak to can hinder our message; but that shouldn't stop us from witnessing to them.

The main problem Jesus had was that the people knew who he was, and that familiarity brought contempt. 'This is just the carpenter,' they said.

Many people judge by outward appearances. If I wore a clerical collar I'd get more respect from people I talk to because of what I'd appear to be. That is the result of conditioning. People associate clerical clothing with ministers of religion, whom they generally respect, whether they're religious or not.

You also get more respect if you put the word 'Reverend' in front of your name (even though it's unscriptural). Why should a Christian tell the world that he should be revered (treated with deep respect)? It's hardly an act of humility.

These people had respect for the Pharisees and teachers of the law who walked around in their flowing robes and looked righteous (Mat 23:27–28), but not for the carpenter of Nazareth who was righteous.

Jesus said to them, 'Only in his home town, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honour.' (Mar 6:4)

That happens because of familiarity. It's not impossible to witness effectively to your family and friends, but it can be difficult. To many of these people Jesus was still the carpenter, and only the carpenter. Not even his family believed in him at that stage of his ministry (Mar 3:20–21), although many had believed by the time of his death (Act 1:12–14).

Three of the Gospels record this teaching of Jesus, so it's something God is emphasizing to us. We don't want to be ignored when we witness to people we know, but if it does happen (and Jesus said it will happen), then we should take comfort from knowing it happened to our Lord also. He knows what it's like.

Lack of faith

He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith. (Mar 6:5–6a)

Returning to our main theme, which is faith: the Bible says that Jesus couldn't do any miracles there except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.

It doesn't say he wouldn't do any miracles there, but that he couldn't do any miracles there. He wanted to do miracles in his home town as much as anywhere else, but their lack of faith stopped his power from moving in their lives.

Can you see how important faith is in receiving blessings from God? We cannot ignore this truth. Lack of faith prevented our Lord from doing miracles on earth—not his lack of faith, but the people's lack of faith.

Are things different today? I don't think so. Why is this written? It's written for our instruction so we will put our faith in Jesus Christ and in his mighty power (Eph 6:10).

The woman who had been subject to bleeding was healed by her faith, but nothing like that happened in Nazareth. And now we know why Jesus put the wailing people out of the house before he raised Jairus' daughter from the dead. If he'd left them in, the miracle might not have happened.

When he raised her from the dead the people were amazed. In his own town it was Jesus who was amazed, but for a different reason.

Let's expect miracles in our lives. When we expect miracles, and believe for miracles, we will see miracles—Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever (Heb 13:8)! And let us make sure he is never amazed at our lack of faith.

Michael Graham
January 2008

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®. NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.

guide | home | next