Faith of a mustard seed

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Much is said about Mark’s Gospel as it has become for the field of New Testament not simply ‘the center’ Gospel but ‘The First’ written of The Three ‘Synoptic Gospels’. The urgency of Mark is an easily identifiable theme where the word ‘immediately’ can be seen eight times in just the first chapter. Perhaps the Church’s birthing in an environment of persecution solely accounts for the urgency of it’s message. The Church in our times has lost it’s urgency. We no longer await— the true ‘Great Expectation’— the coming of The Lord. Look here at the use of Faith in Mark.

First is this Triple Tradition pericope on ‘The Healing Of The Paralytic’ (Mark 2:1-12).

3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” …9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your pallet and walk’? …12 And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Synoptic variations from Matthew’s account (Matt 9:1-18) include Caperneum as the locale and preaching as His activity— to an overflowing crowd. Four men carry the paralytic and, unable to get near Him, they remove the roof to lower the pallet. ‘Immediately’ Jesus perceived the questioning of the scribes. The paralytic rose and ‘immediately’ took up his pallet. The response of those gathered— “we never saw anything like this!”

Gunther Bornkamm, one of my very favorite New Testament theologians makes this statement, “In the tradition of Jesus’ sayings faith is always linked with power and miracle. …Where Jesus does not find this faith, he cannot work a miracle. …What matters here, however, is the readiness to receive the miracle.”

I am reminded that of all the hospital visits that I made during my pastoral service at Salem, I shall forever remember the look on Trustee Ruby Reeves face on her way to major surgery. I have looked upon more sickness than I can begin to recall, but Ruby had this angelic glow about her as she said to me “it’s in God’s hands!” Never saw anything like this! When she returned to church as though ‘something’ had happened, I know for certain that her faith had made her whole!

Key to our re-defining faith here is the fact that in the synoptic use of faith it is ‘already there’! Faith is a prerequisite to healing! It is not a ‘seeing is believing’ or a ‘show me state’ of life, but, I expect you to, I know you can. “All who turn to him in faith count on the power of Jesus which knows no bounds, and on the miracle which he can work, where all human help fails.”

Time and time again, as here with the ‘Healing of The Paralytic’ Jesus saw ‘faith’ and responded to this faith with ‘healing’.

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