Examples Of Faith

Matthew chapter eight is all about faith: knowing who Jesus is, and recognizing his Deity, His Lordship, and His authority. It is full of examples of faith, and contrasting examples of lack of faith.

When he came down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshiped him, saying, Lord, if you will, you can make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said unto him, See you tell no man; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

After finishing his sermon on the mount, Jesus came down and people began coming to Him to heal their diseases. He first healed a leper. Lepers at that time were lowly outcasts, isolated from society. Yet this lowly outcast had such complete faith in Jesus, he made his way through the crowds and prostated and himself before Jesus. Kneeling before someone was a recognition of their superiority, a show of loyalty and obedience, and the position of worship and admiration. By prostating himself before Jesus in this manner, this leper proved his faith in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. By faith he knew that Jesus had the power and authority to heal his physical body- if He would be willing to do so. Jesus was indeed willing, and immediately cleansed the man of his disease.

It's interesting that Jesus told the leper not to tell anyone that he had been healed. Instead Jesus told the man to go to the priest and offer the gift that Moses prescribed, as a testimony to the priests. Why did Jesus tell the man not to tell anyone that he had been healed? There could be several reasons for this. First, He probably didn't want to become known as just a miracle worker. The healing miracles would undoubtedly overshadow His teaching ministry. We know that Jesus was far more concerned with people's souls and their physical bodies. The very next chapter begins with Jesus forgiving a man of his sins first, proving that He was more concerned with spiritual healing than physical healing, then healing the man's physical infirmities, to prove for his authority was from God. Secondly, perhaps He knew that His healing miracles would cause them to seek His death even sooner, before He had finished his earthly ministry. However, it was important that the priests knew of his healing miracles. Since Jesus was just beginning his earthly ministry, this healing was meant as a testimony to them of who He was and of His supernatural power. He knew they'd have a hard time believing that He truly was the Son of God.

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lies at home sick, a paralytic, grievously tormented. And Jesus said unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it. When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

Next we see the faith of the centurion. A centurion was a Roman military officer in charge of many soldiers. As both a gentile and a member of the cruel Roman army that had invaded and enslaved Israel, this man would also have been a sociah outcast, yet he proved his tremendous faith in Jesus by coming to Him for healing of his servant. His words proved his recognition of the tremendous authority that Jesus had. In fact Jesus said no one in Israel had shown such great faith as this heathen Roman soldier.

And when Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother lying sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. When the evening came, they brought unto him many that were possessed with demons: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:

Jesus then went to his disciple Peter's house, where Peter's mother-in-law was lying in bed with a fever. She was healed as soon as Jesus took her hand, and her faith is evident by the fact that she immediately got up and began to wait on him. Many others demonstrated their faith when they came to Jesus for healing. Scripture says He healed them all, proving that their faith in Him was justified. Many who were possessed by demons were brought to Jesus by those who had faith in his ability to heal them. Their faith was also rewarded when Jesus drove the demons out.

And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go. And Jesus said unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.

As a contrast, the next few cases demonstrate a lack of faith in Jesus. First, a rabbi, or teacher of the law, came up to Jesus and told him "I will follow you wherever you go." While this may at first glance seem a to be a show of faith, it is evident from Jesus's answer to him that something was wrong with his motivation. The Bible isn't clear on what his motivation was: perhaps he wanted to share of some of the glory and recognition that Jesus was receiving, or maybe he saw a way to use this for his own personal gain somehow. Regardless of his motivation, Jesus, who knows the hearts of all men, was quick to point out to him that here on this earth, Jesus had nothing at all, not even a place to lay His head. All these "wealth and prosperity" preachers today might want to ask themselves this: If God intends for His children to be wealthy, why was Jesus, God's own Son, so poor on this earth that He didn't even have a place to lay His head? If the gospel was all about wealth and prosperity, wouldn't Jesus have been rich? This is obviously one of those false doctrines that we are warned to beware of. God doesn't want us to be RICH, He wants us to be RIGHTEOUS!

And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

The second instance of a lack of faith was when a disciple came to Jesus and told him "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." It seems like he was acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus, but was he really? If he truly knew who Jesus was, and recognized His authority, he wouldn't have put anything ahead of following Jesus. Jesus as answer to him was short and simple: "Follow, me and let the dead bury the dead." Nothing should stand in the way of following Jesus. There will never be a convenient time, there will always be something important that needs our attention; thus, our willingness to follow Him needs to be immediate and must require putting Him first, always. Anything less is merely lip service, just like this man's, and Jesus will not accept our excuses any more than He accepted his.

And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he said unto them, Why are you fearful, O you of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

The next example of a lack of faith came from Jesus's own disciples. As they were taking Jesus on a boat across the sea, a terrible storm came up. Waves swept over the sides of the boat, and they were afraid that they were all going to drown. They woke up Jesus, who was sleeping, worn out from his labors. He rebuked them for their lack of faith in Him, and then rebuked the wind and the waves, so that the sea was completely calm - a remarkable demonstration of his authority.

And when he came to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with demons, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with you, Jesus, you Son of God? have you come here to torment us before the time? And there was a good way off from them a herd of many swine feeding. So the demons besought him, saying, If you cast us out, allow us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they came out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.

The next section of Scripture is once more about faith in the Lordship and deity of Jesus, but not from His followers. Oddly enough, this passage shows that even the demons themselves, so violently opposed to God, recognized the Lordship and authority of Jesus, calling Him "Son of God". They knew who He was, and were very well aware of His power over them. Once again Jesus demonstrated his power: this time by casting the demons from the bodies that they had taken possession of, into a herd of pigs. The herd of pigs then rushed down into the water and drowned, and those tending the pigs ran off into town to tell everyone what had happened.

And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told everything, and what was befallen to him possessed of the demons. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their region.

Now you would think that all these demonstrations of Jesus's power would be enough to convince people to accept Him and have faith in Him, wouldn't you? But the chapter ends with one final display of a lack of faith. After hearing the story of how these two men were delivered from demons, instead of rejoicing, the people pleaded with Jesus to just leave their region, and leave them alone. They were apparently far more concerned with their financial losses than was recognizing the Lordship and authority of Jesus Christ.

It is true: being a disciple of Jesus is going to cost us something. It can't be business as usual, we cannot put other things ahead of Him. But when we recognize Who Jesus is - the living SON of GOD, and put our faith and trust in Him, no price is too much, no sacrifice is too great. After all, He sacrificed all the glories of heaven for us, and gave His very life for our sins: can we do any less for Him?

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