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Trinity 24 – Matthew 9:18-26

by pastorjuhl ~ November 11th, 2010

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews begins chapter 11 with these words: faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. One man and one woman desire healing from Jesus in Matthew chapter nine. Both people receive what they desire in two different ways. Both people also are outstanding examples of faith that clings to Jesus Christ against all odds.

Mark and Luke’s Gospel tell us the ruler of the synagogue’s name was Jairus. His daughter has just died. He has no reason to trouble Christ with a request. Nevertheless, he came and worshiped Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.”

Talk about strong faith! All Jesus needs to do is lay a hand on her and she will live. A few weeks ago, Jesus remonstrates someone who wanted him to come and lay a hand on someone with a fever. Jesus speaks a word and the fever is gone. This time Jesus follows Jairus. On the way to the ruler’s home, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” Instead of our Lord laying a hand on her or speaking a word of healing to her, she touches his tunic and is healed. Jesus knows what has happened. Mark and Luke’s Gospel record Jesus asking who touched Him because Mark says He felt power leaving Him. Nevertheless, our Lord’s response to her action is the same: Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.

Faith is a word that is tossed around so much that it’s hard to remember what is faith and what is not faith. One thing is for certain: you don’t just have faith. Faith is not merely trusting a process or wanting the impossible to be possible. Faith has an object. In the Christian faith, the object of faith is the Triune God. You trust God to keep the promise He made to our fathers in the faith, to Abraham and his seed forever.

Hear again Hebrews chapter eleven: faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. To say, “You gotta have faith” while having the tiniest amount of doubt about who will perform your request or who will take care of your needs is not faith. It is actually a “mouth faith”, a faith that talks a good game but really doesn’t believe what the mouth says. A “mouth faith” also is a faith that doesn’t want to be put into action. It’s a faith that, again, talks a good game, but doesn’t want to show itself to the world. “Mouth faith” says “I love God” while secretly despising God for any number of reasons.

Put yourself in the place of the woman with a flow of blood. Twelve years you’ve been sick. Doctors are stymied. Medicine can’t cure the illness. Your only hope is Jesus. But you won’t go to Him because you don’t think He will heal you. Or you won’t go to Him because He won’t come to you on your own terms.

Put yourself in the place of Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue. Instead of coming to Jesus with your request, you would rather trust the system that you know well to work to your advantage. You press along following the rules of the synagogue knowing that the Son of the Most High God wants to heal your dead daughter. You won’t let the Lord follow you home because His presence in your home may offend friends or relatives. When He comes and says make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping, you don’t want to suffer the inconvenience of looking like a fool. Dead is dead. The girl is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any longer?

Why trouble Jesus indeed! You believe Him, you believe His Word, and you believe He is the Christ, the Son of God, but the Truth is inconvenient. The Truth might lose you some friends. The Truth might even strip you of pride because you are dependent on God rather than maintaining rugged individuality.

Repent of mouth faith. Repent from not looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus brings joy both to Jairus and his household as well as to the woman with a flow of blood. Instead of demanding servitude, instead of wanting to be treated as the God He is, Jesus gives what they desire. In the case of the woman, Jesus happens to be in the right place at the right time. Then again, Jesus is always there for everyone in the right place at the right time. Jesus confounds those who ridicule Him for saying Jairus’ daughter is not dead, but sleeping. He clears the room of the crowd, took her by the hand, and the girl arose. If the resurrection of the dead does not bring joy, then nothing can bring joy.

The same two things that happen to Jairus and the woman with a flow of blood happen to you now and will happen to you in the Day of Resurrection. When you pray for healing, peace, repentance, forgiveness, or any other need you may have, be it physical or spiritual, even if you glance the hem of our Lord’s garment, you believe, without doubt, He hears your prayer and will answer according to His good and gracious will. When you pray for spiritual matters, like strengthening your faith, our Father in heaven has to give it to you. When you pray for temporal matters, like healing from illness, our Father answers according to His will. If His will is that your loved one die, and if they die in the Christian faith, they have the best healing possible. If His will is that your loved one recovers, you rejoice because the illness is gone. You also rejoice because, if the one healed is a Christian, that person will have final healing in the resurrection.

There is no greater joy that eyes will see and ears will hear than our Savior descending from heaven to call His beloved Bride to His side. Up from the graves will rise countless men and women who died in the Lord Jesus Christ and His promise of forgiveness and restoration. Their sins are forgiven in His blood and righteousness. They are restored to the way they were meant to be when our Lord shakes off their mortal bodies, reunite their souls with their new bodies, and recreates heaven and earth, just as He promised in His Word. A “mouth faith” believes it impossible. A whole body faith believes it possible, because with God all things are possible.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. There is evidence of these things you have not seen. The evidence is in Holy Scripture, God’s infallible Word. The substance of your hope is in this visible Word with water, bread, and wine, delivering forgiveness and eternal life into your life. The world ridicules faith as it ridiculed Christ before He raised the ruler’s daughter. Christians will have the last laugh against the world and the devil when Jesus casts them out of this world and raises His children from the slumber of death to the joy of eternal life.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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