Are People Healed Because of Their Faith?

We prize servanthood. We believe that we ought to serve one another. There are a couple ways that the call to serve becomes too much for the person and really becomes sinful. As Jesus sets the example for Christian service in this passage, He makes a perplexing statement indicating that a woman’s faith is the thing that heals her from a perpetual sickness. It’s especially perplexing for those who do not buy in to the word of faith movement.

We are entering the last section of this section of miracles and will, when we get to chapters 10-12, move into the next section of Christ’s teaching. After that, we will see the first section of parables in Matthew 13:1-52.

Matthew 9:18-26

While He was saying these things to them, a synagogue official came and bowed down before Him, and said, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live.”

Jesus got up and began to follow him, and so did His disciples. And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.”

But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well.

When Jesus came into the official’s house, and saw the flute-players and the crowd in noisy disorder, He said, “Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.” And they began laughing at Him.

But when the crowd had been sent out, He entered and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. This news spread throughout all that land.

Jesus is available (v. 18-19)

While He was saying these things to them, a synagogue official came and bowed down before Him, and said, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live.”

Jesus got up and began to follow him, and so did His disciples.

In the previous passage, we saw Jesus teaching about why it was that John’s disciples and the Pharisees fasted but His disciples did not at that time, a synagogue official comes to Jesus. Here, we discover two very important things. First, Jesus was teaching in a synagogue as he addressed the question of John’s disciples. Second, Matthew refers to Jesus’ answer in the previous passage as teaching. This is why we saw a direct application of the Old Testament practice of fasting and why Jesus takes the time to illustrate what it means for us to be sanctified to maturity. His implicit teaching was that He was the one prophesied about in the Old Testament. He was the bridegroom, therefore His disciples did not fast. After implying that He was the Messiah while in the synagogue teaching, one of the synagogue officials comes to Him and implores Jesus, who has just implied that He is the one who gives life, to revive the daughter he believes to be deceased.

What strikes me, here, is that Jesus doesn’t ask any questions. Jesus, who has all knowledge, doesn’t say to him, “No, your daughter’s not really dead. Just wait for her to wake up.” Jesus isn’t concerned about wasting His time by traveling. He was just resolved to serve people. That was His ministry- Preach the Gospel and serve people. Really, this is the simple ministry of all those who follow Jesus. Some people claim to follow Jesus but neither preach the Gospel nor serve others sincerely. Whatever this person refers to as following Christ is actually an imposter of true Christianity. If we are not proclaiming the Gospel and sincerely serving others, within and without our local body, then we are not following Jesus because that is how Jesus lives.

There is another striking detail, here. Jesus has a healthy way of serving others. His primary concern was teaching God’s word. He served those who came to Him. Jesus was available, but did not grovel. There is a difference between being available to serve and being someone’s busboy. We can take a sincere desire to serve others, and pastors are particularly susceptible because it is easy to want to please everyone and keep everyone happy, and turn it in to a form of idolatry. What is different between sincere, Biblical servanthood and idolatrous servanthood?

So far as we see in Scripture, Jesus never calls on anyone, even His disciples, to make sure that they are pleased or that they are getting everything from Him that they desire or think they need. Yet, this is how many people, to some degree and in some manner, extrude what it means for someone to be a servant. If someone isn’t doing this regularly, then the natural thought is, “Well, you must not be there for me…” I’m going to argue that this is both an unbiblical and even dangerous way to define servanthood.In fact, this definition of service, and any definition like it, explicit or implicit, does more harm than good and actually turns people away from Christlikeness.

Christlike Service Idolatrous Service
Signified by availability to all people unconditionally in their times of genuine need. Signified by overbearance and conditional love. (e.g. “I must make sure others are pleased or they will reject and leave me.”)
Accompanied by humility. Assumes that people need us (Messiah Complex).
Promotes grace-based relationships. Promotes works-based relationships (e.g. “If your existence doesn’t profit me, I want nothing to do with you.”)

That’s merely what we see coming from Jesus’ example in these two verses with reference to the rest of Scripture. We begin to see how toxic idolatrous servanthood can be, yet it so easily creeps in and deals way more unseen damage than we realize. It is an invisible thief that steals the Spirit of peace and excitement for the Gospel and we make it seem very pious and spiritual. In reality, it is a failure to live according to the Gospel of grace. We desire to be servants like Christ for the genuine good of others and not according to the twisted definition of servanthood that the world gives us. The world’s way of service will only accomplish two things- burnout for the servant and unChristlikeness for the one being ‘served.’

This is why unhealthy local churches desire chaplains and healthy local churches desire pastors. The difference is the manner and spirit of service. It is why some local churches are dying and others are thriving. A chaplain ministers to dying churches and a pastor is shepherding the living flock of God. The difference is night and day. We don’t want to be a monument. We want to be a movement.

Your faith has made you well (v. 20-22)

And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.”

But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well.

Here, there are a couple things to notice. First, concerning Jesus’ example as a servant. He is on His way to see the official’s daughter. This woman, who has been bleeding for twelve years, touches the fringe of His cloak. Jesus stops. His concern is not with getting things that need to be done done as soon as possible. He doesn’t have, as His priority, following a strict to-do list so that He can be as productive as He can be in a given day or finish the objectives on that to-do list. He stops and heals this woman. We see another characteristic of godly service to others.

Christlike Service Idolatrous Service
Signified by availability to all people unconditionally in their times of genuine need. Signified by overbearance and conditional love. (e.g. “I must make sure others are pleased or they will reject and leave me.”)
Accompanied by humility. Assumes that people need us (Messiah Complex).
Promotes grace-based relationships. Promotes works-based relationships (e.g. “If your existence doesn’t profit me, I want nothing to do with you.”)
Is interruptable Is always too busy.

Personally, I have been working on perfecting this sort of lifestyle for years. In college, I went from laziness to being a workaholic. Over the years, I have had to learn how to do the things that God wants me to do without failing to serve others. Here, Jesus shows us as He lives a very human life. Jesus has a very long to-do list with healing people, preaching the Gospel, making sure His disciples are ready to lead the church when the time comes, and preparing for His own death and resurrection. Yet, He can be bothered. I have been through several phases trying to be like Jesus, here. 

I have been in phases which I have not kept a to-do list or schedule so that I could simply be there for everyone. People were still unhappy with my availability because I could not be there with everyone all the time. Nothing was ever accomplished because there was no intentionality about doing what God has clearly called us to do, and me to do as a pastor, in His Bible.

I have been in phases which I developed a schedule or to-do list and was very strict about keeping it. People were still unhappy about how much was getting done because I can’t logically, physically, or emotionally accomplish all that needs to be done in a day. No one can. I wasn’t able to be a good brother when people really needed me because I was always in the zone.

I have learned over the years that Jesus’ method is simply the best method. It is really the only way not to over-extend ourselves in either direction. Be on task, but be interruptible. This is why I keep a schedule but am always willing to drop what I am doing when someone comes to me. I never get everything done that I want to get done. That’s okay. People who expect either of the other two things would have hated the way Jesus lived in the flesh.

The world’s way of service will only accomplish two things- burnout for the servant and unChristlikeness for the one being ‘served.’

As Jesus heals this woman, He tells her, “Your faith has made you well.” What do you think is going on, here? I think this is, perhaps, one of the more confusing statements in our time because we have not cared enough to know what faith is. So, we will read this and think, “Okay. If I simply have enough trust that Jesus will heal me, I will be healed.” Faith and trust, Biblically, are not the same thing. Trust is a sort of confidence that someone will do something or that something will happen or that someone is truthful. Faith is something different according to the Bible. If we read Romans 1:13-17, Habakkuk 2:4, Matthew 18:1-3, Ephesians 2:8-10, Hebrews 10:18-34, 11:1-6, James 2:14-17, and Galatians 2:16, we see that 

True faith is a gift from God (not a work of self) that causes God’s people to depend fully on God and reveals the righteousness of God (not people) for the purpose of our humility and God’s glory, bringing about obedience in those who are given faith. 

Click here to see this Biblical definition of faith explained. So, for Jesus to say, “Your faith has made you well,” is for Him to claim that God has regenerated this woman’s heart, brought her into salvation, humbled her, and is sanctifying her- bringing her to obedience to Himself. Faith makes a person well on a deeper level than merely physical healing. In this case, as with the other cases in this section of Matthew’s Gospel, physical healing was another picture of the Gospel. This is consistent with what Jesus has taught and practiced up to this point. It is not that this woman had enough trust for Jesus to heal her. That would be unsound doctrine. It is that by faith, which is opposed to works, her salvation is being worked out. The same is true for us, though miracles are not serving the specific purpose today as they were during Jesus’ bodily ministry in this world (refer to notes on Matthew 8:14-17).

No problem too small (v. 23-26)

When Jesus came into the official’s house, and saw the flute-players and the crowd in noisy disorder, He said, “Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.” And they began laughing at Him.

Jesus, the great physician, comes in and makes this diagnosis. People, who have seen death before, laugh at His diagnosis. When Jesus comes in and diagnosis the condition of our hearts and the health of our churches, families, and communities, many times, our tendency is to laugh or to explain away the problems that God’s word reveals us to have. When His word tells us one thing, and we are doing or teaching another, we convince ourselves that we are correct anyway. We laugh and assume that we actually know exactly what is going on because of our experience. While our experiences are beneficial, it turns out that they can’t do much for us. This is why we are sanctified by God’s word alone. 

But when the crowd had been sent out, He entered and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. This news spread throughout all that land.

After this, the same people are amazed when Jesus turns out to be correct. He goes in and He wakes the young girl up. News about Jesus spreads. People in this world don’t really know what they need. The Bible has been around for centuries and was being developed from the time God spoke the world into existence into the First Century AD. God has diagnosed our hearts. He has told us exactly what we need. As natural people, we laugh it off in some way. We think we know. It turns out that God is correct. Those who realize it can’t keep from sharing and spreading the news of our God. 

Even though Jesus, who is omniscient, knows that the girl is not actually dead, He takes the time to go anyway. This means, for those who follow Jesus, that no controversy, problem, or drama is too small or insignificant to keep us from caring for and serving people wherever they are at in a Godly way.

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