As I mentioned in my last blog, I have been prayerfully working my way through Luke’s gospel in preparation for a new preaching series in 2022.
In considering chapter 7 I was drawn to consider the role of faith in healing. Often Jesus would comment “your faith has healed you.” E.g., Luke 8v48 and 18v42.
In Luke 7 we have a Roman Centurion who had a good relationship with the Jewish leaders. His servant was sick and he asked the elders to plead with Jesus to heal the servant. The heart of the episode is when the Centurion told Jesus he didn’t deserve for him to even enter his house. As a soldier he knew about authority and recognised it in Jesus, he therefore knew Jesus could just say the word and healing would take place.
Jesus commented that he had not found such faith even in Israel and healed the servant.
An extraordinary healing which demonstrated the relationship between healing and faith. As in other episodes faith led to healing.
However, just in case the readers of the gospel came to a simplistic equation relating faith to healing Luke follows this up with an even more amazing healing miracle, Jesus raises the widow of Nairn’s son from the dead during a funeral procession! Jesus seeing the distress of the widow losing her only son, his heart went out to her. He then gives life to the young man. The crowd are reminded of a similar miracle performed many years ago by Elijah. They recognised Jesus as a great prophet similar to Elijah.
In this case the healing was not linked to anyone’s faith, it was motivated solely by the compassion of Jesus. I am sure that Luke purposely placed these two miracles next to one another to help us realise that healing is a mystery, we cannot simplistically say faith leads to healing or healing requires faith. God is not constrained by our faith; he will do what he will do.
Whilst as we have seen at times healing is linked to someone’s faith, this is not always the case. Not just here but in other places, e.g., the healing of Peter’s mother in law. Luke 4v38.
As a mathematician I link simple equations. Things of God are rarely like that, we have to embrace mystery.