Matthew 14:34 When (Jesus and the twelve disciples) had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35 After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, 36 and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
This morning I’m struck by the totality of the healing recorded in this passage, It says people throughout the region “brought all who were sick” and “all who touched (the fringe of his cloak) were healed”. This wasn’t a healing for one or two people – but for EVERYONE who sought healing.
Now compare the passage above with a passage we read a few days ago in Matthew 13:
54 He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son?…57 And they took offense at him… 58 And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.
Why were so few people healed in Jesus’ hometown? “Because of their unbelief”. In several places in the gospels Jesus says to one who has been healed, “Your faith has made you well”. It’s sort of the opposite of what happened in Jesus’ hometown. Faith appears to be a key element in Jesus’ healing. What is that about? Well, I’m not sure, but here’s my take on it this morning.
While the power of God present in Jesus is the source of healing, there is a receptivity to that power that is important. There is a submission, a humility, a posture of need that appears to open the door for God to act. In our first passage that posture of humility is present in spades. In Jesus’ hometown? Not so much. In his hometown people are actually offended by him rather than receptive to him.
The potential problem in connecting faith with healing is that we can make a sick person the culprit rather than a victim of illness. We might think if the person TRULY believed, the Lord would heal them. So if they remain sick it’s their own fault for lack of faith. This is simply not true. I’ve known many, many incredibly faithful people who prayed for healing but were not healed. We have to be careful not to make the acts of God too formulaic.
In the end God seems to resist our attempts to domesticate him. God is not a genie we rub in the right way, at the right time, with the right words and get what we want. Sometimes God acts, sometimes not. Why? I don’t know, but that’s simply how it is.
Heavenly Father, today I pray for the many, many people who are sick right now. Schools and homes and workplaces are being decimated as the flu runs rampant. Included among the sick are many believers who, no doubt, pray for healing. Many of us who are not sick also pray for their healing. Let your grace abound among those suffering today. Confer faith where faith is needed. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.