This verse is the conclusion to the familiar story of blind Bartimaeus. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem accompanied by a large entourage of people. He had just left Jericho when He passed by Bartimaeus, a blind beggar sitting by the road.
When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was passing by, he began to cry out: “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!”
Bartimaeus was pleading so loudly that people told him to keep quiet, but he just cried out for Jesus all the more.
“Have mercy on me, Son of David!” “Have mercy on me, Son of David!”
As you might expect, his cry for help captured the attention of Jesus. Jesus stopped and told the people to bring Bartimaeus to Him. Jesus then asked Bartimaeus what he wanted Him to do. “I want to see!” Bartimaeus responded.
And you know the rest of the story. Bartimaeus was immediately healed and joined the crowd that was following Jesus.
Now, this is an inspiring story not only because of the miracle of healing that Jesus performed, but also because of Jesus’ response to the relentless beseeching by Bartimaeus. Many sermons have been preached on persistence in prayer based on the example of blind Bartimaeus!
But there’s something that really bothers me about this story. Something Jesus said that doesn’t fit in the little box that contains my theological perspective and personal experience with God.
Jesus told Bartimaeus, “Your faith has healed you!”
What? Your faith has healed you?
I thought Bartimaeus was healed by the faith and miraculous healing power of Jesus, the Son of God!
Bartimaeus’ faith healed him?
On numerous occasions in the gospels, including the Bartimaeus story, Jesus indicated that the faith of a person caused his or her healing or the healing of a friend or relative:
- a woman suffering from bleeding who touched Jesus’ robe;
- a Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant at a distance;
- a paralyzed man let down through the roof by friends (his friends’ faith healed him);
- a Gentile mother on behalf of her daughter who was possessed by a demon;
- two blind men (similar to the Bartimaeus incident);
- and ten leprous men.
And, Jesus made numerous proclamations about the miraculous power of even a small amount of faith to cast out demons, uproot trees, and even move mountains!
So, what’s the explanation? Can people’s faith cause themselves or others to be healed?
And, if you or the one you are believing for isn’t healed when you ask God, is it because you don’t have faith, or enough faith?
My wife and I were raising two very young grandchildren when my wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer. But, we knew raising these children was God’s assignment for us and so we believed God would heal her if the cancer treatments didn’t. We obtained the best medical treatment available for her, but she was gone eight months after the diagnosis.
I believed right up to the day she died that God would heal her so we could raise those children together. After all, why would God leave two small children with me, and without her? Wasn’t this our assignment from God?
Admittedly, my belief about her healing may have included some denial of the reality of her having terminal cancer. Nevertheless, I still believed, but my faith didn’t heal her.
When she died, I didn’t get angry with God. I accepted the new assignment, but with some reservations about my parenting skills, and, of course, with an unanswered question.
Why? Why didn’t my faith (and her faith) heal her?
I don’t know that I have since developed a complete theological position for this question that satisfies my need to know the ways of God. But one aspect of the explanation may be that when it comes to having faith, there is a difference between what God “can” and what God “will” do.
Just because I believe God can do something and, even if I believe it as hard as I can, doesn’t mean God has to do it or that God will do it!
When Jesus said that your faith has healed you, He didn’t mean that because you have faith, God has to do what you want Him to do!
My pastor says that my prayer for my wife’s healing was indeed answered. That she was healed, maybe just not the way I was wanting! That in dying, she left her sick and broken physical body behind and she became a whole and complete spiritual being transported into the presence of God in heaven.
Maybe this proposition doesn’t completely answer my question. Maybe it doesn’t thoroughly explain it.
Maybe I need to be more sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit to know when God’s will is to restore health to a person’s physical body and when His will is to restore a person by calling him or her into His presence in heaven.
Either way, I know I need to keep on believing. Either way, I know I need to keep on having faith that God heals sick bodies and restores broken lives.
Because sooner or later, whether during this life or in leaving this life, my faith will heal me!