Last week we spoke about fear and how fear keeps one from fully realizing their faith and without a full realization of faith, how hard it is to live out God’s call to us. This week the story continues as Jesus comes back across the sea and encounters a large crowd. Unlike last, where we learned the debilitating nature of fear and doubt, this week we see the power and freedom that comes with faith.
There are two examples this week of faith that leads to healing: first is a woman who touches the cloak and is healed and the second is a man looking for help for his dying daughter. The link in both stories is an unquestioned faith which both individuals have that the power of Christ is so strong that he can set things right. Now many skeptics will make a point that the Bible makes it clear that both of these people are at their most desperate. A father about to lose his adolescent daughter and a woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years! You cannot get more desperate than when one looks directly into mortality and here, both were.
Yet, in context with the story from last week, it is obvious something more is going on, maybe a clue as to how we are really called to live as the people of Christ. I think one of the things Christ really wants, but never really gets from his disciples is faith. Well, at least while he is in his mortal body.
They often come close to having faith, but the lingering doubt is very much there. It is seen in their response to when the hemorrhaging woman touches his cloak. Their response was that of the human mind: they are walking through a crowd; of course people would touch or bump into him. What they did not realize was that through the faith Christ could feel the healing and know that this touch was something more, something only He could know. Here is where if the disciples really had faith they would have understood why Christ would ask the question and recognize the miracle that happened.
In the same way the story of the dying girl reflects the same doubt. Though Jesus did not take all of the disciples to the place of the dying girl, from the story, when they got there the disciples remained in the background as they were brought in to see the miracle happen. As the girl, thought to be dead, rose “they were overcome with amazement.” A sign that even these three, known to be the closest saw something totally unexpected again exposed that lack.
The thing that is really important is that even in their lack of faith, Christ never abandons his disciples. Over and over we see that he is trying to teach them, often holding their hands as they try, but it is not until his earthly story is complete that they really believe. But in both of these stories, no matter the motivation, or desperation, each person just believes and is willing to hand over their trust into Christ. From that trust, they are made full, and can truly live.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen