-Wir sein pettler. Hoc est verum.--"We are beggars. This is true."--Martin Luther-

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Faith, Healing, Prayer, and Miracles in the Gospels

I want to address the understanding of "faith" in the Gospels, as portrayed by Jesus. It is something I have pondered before and I thought it would be a good thing to address, especially within the Lutheran tradition. This is somewhat stimulated by some discussions on the Wittenberg Trail, one on prayer and the other on faith-healing. At first glance it would seem that the understanding of faith in the Gospels is not consistent with a Pauline understanding, and by extension, a Lutheran understanding. There is such an overwhelming pattern in the Gospel use of the term that it cannot be ignored and must be incorporated and explained within a Lutheran context. What one finds is that faith is almost always used in connection with healing, miracles, casting out demons, and prayer. This post will just give all the examples of this playing out. I will leave my analysis for another post.

The vast majority of the time in the Gospels, faith is presented as a reason for someone being healed or not being healed, whether or not one is able to cast out a demon, whether or not one's prayer is answered, whether or not one can cast a mountain into the sea or not. Besides a couple of times where Jesus tells someone that they are saved or forgiven because of their faith, it would seem that Jesus' portrayal of faith is not what we have come to understand it as, within the Pauline and Lutheran context. I have my own thoughts on this matter but would love to hear from my readers. How do you guys gel these things within your understanding? Do you know of any other Lutherans who have addressed this issue? If so, what were their conclusions?

Mat 8:10 And hearing, Jesus marveled, and said to those following, Truly I say to you, Not even in Israel did I find such faith.
Mat 8:11 But I say to you that many will come from east and west, and will recline with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven,
Mat 8:12 but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into the outer darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of the teeth.
Mat 8:13 And Jesus said to the centurion, Go, and as you have believed, so let it be to you. And his child was healed in that hour.

Mat 9:2 And, behold! They were bringing a paralytic lying on a cot to Him. And seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed one, Be comforted, child. Your sins have been remitted.
Mat 9:3 And, behold, some of the scribes said within themselves, This One blasphemes.
Mat 9:4 And seeing their thoughts, Jesus said, Why do you think evil in your hearts?
Mat 9:5 For what is easier, to say, Your sins are remitted, or to say, Rise up and walk?
Mat 9:6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to remit sins, then He said to the paralytic, Rising up, lift up your cot and go to your house.

Mat 9:22 But turning and seeing her, Jesus said, Be comforted, daughter; your faith has healed you. And the woman was healed from that hour.

Mat 9:28 And coming into the house, the blind ones came near to Him. And Jesus says to them, Do you believe that I am able to do this? And they said to Him, Yes, Lord.
Mat 9:29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, According to your faith let it be to you.

Mat 13:55 Is this not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
Mat 13:56 And are not His sisters all with us? From where then did this One get all these things? Mat 13:57 And they were offended in Him. But Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honor, except in his own fatherland, and in his own house.
Mat 13:58 And He did not do many works of power there because of their unbelief.

Mat 14:29 And He said, Come! And going down from the boat, Peter walked on the waters to go to Jesus.
Mat 14:30 But seeing the wind strong, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, Lord, save me!
Mat 14:31 And immediately stretching out the hand, Jesus took hold of him, and said to him, Little-faith, why did you doubt?

Mat 15:28 Then answering, Jesus said to her, O woman, great is your faith; let it be to you as you desire. And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Mat 17:18 And Jesus rebuked it, and the demon came out from him; and the boy was healed from that hour.
Mat 17:19 Then coming up to Jesus privately, the disciples said, Why were we not able to cast him out?
Mat 17:20 And Jesus said to them, Because of your unbelief. For truly I say to you, If you have faith as a grain of mustard, you will say to this mountain, Move from here to there! And it will move. And nothing shall be impossible to you.

Mat 21:21 And answering, Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, If you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do the miracle of the fig tree, but even if you should say to this mountain, Be taken up and thrown into the sea, it will be so.
Mat 21:22 And all things, whatever you may ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.

Mar 2:5 And seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, Child, your sins are forgiven to you.

Mar 5:34 And He said to her, Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be whole from your plague.

Mar 6:5 And He could do no work of power there, except He performed healing on a few infirm ones, laying on His hands.
Mar 6:6 And He marveled because of their unbelief. And He went around the villages in a circuit, teaching.

Mar 9:23 And Jesus said to him, If you are able to believe, all things are possible to the ones believing.
Mar 9:24 And immediately crying out, the father of the child said with tears, Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!
Mar 9:25 And seeing that a crowd is running together, Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, Come out from him, and you may no more go into him!

Mar 10:52 And Jesus said to him, Go, your faith has healed you. And instantly he saw again, and followed Jesus in the highway.

Mar 11:22 And answering, Jesus said to them, Have faith of God.
Mar 11:23 For truly I say to you, Whoever says to this mountain, Be taken up and be thrown into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be to him, whatever he says.
Mar 11:24 Therefore I say to you, All things, whatever you ask, praying, believe that you will receive, and it will be to you.

Mar 16:17 And miraculous signs will follow to those believing these things: they will cast out demons in My name; they will speak new languages;
Mar 16:18 they will take up snakes; and if they drink anything deadly, it will in no way hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will be well.

Luk 5:20 And seeing their faith, He said to him, Man, your sins have been forgiven you.
Luk 5:21 And the scribes and Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who is able to forgive sins except God alone?
Luk 5:22 But knowing their thoughts, answering Jesus said to them, Why do you reason in your hearts?
Luk 5:23 Which is easier, to say, Your sins have been forgiven you, or to say, Rise up and walk?

Luk 7:9 And hearing these things, Jesus marveled at him. And turning to the crowd following Him, He said, I say to you, I did not find such faith in Israel.
Luk 7:10 And those sent, returning to the house, found the sick slave well.

Luk 8:48 And He said to her, Daughter, be comforted. Your faith has healed you. Go in peace.
Luk 8:49 As He was yet speaking, someone came from the synagogue ruler, saying to him, Your daughter has died. Do not trouble the Teacher.
Luk 8:50 But hearing, Jesus answered him, saying, Do not fear; only believe and she will be healed.

Luk 17:5 And the apostles said to the Lord, Give us more faith.
Luk 17:6 But the Lord said, If you had faith as a grain of mustard, you may say to this sycamine tree, Be rooted up and be planted in the sea! And it would obey you.

Luk 17:19 And He said to him, Rising up, go! Your faith has cured you.

Luk 18:42 And Jesus said to him, See again! Your faith has healed you.

1 comment:

Jim Robertson said...

Such faith seems to be in short supply in America these days. James 1:5-8 tells us to not be double-minded. Perhaps,like the apostles we need to pray: increase our faith(Luke 17:5).