And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”Luke 17:19
Having faith is important. Faith motivates us. Faith empowers us. Faith gives us passion. Faith comes in different quantities. Small amount of faith, even the size of a mustard seed can accomplish great things! That puts a whole new meaning to Splash Mountain.
Faith is an important factor in many aspects of our lives. “All you have to do is have faith.” This thought, though sentimental and encouraging, is often trite and lacking. It is almost oversimplifying the Lutheran understanding of sola fide or faith alone.
Truly in our reading of Scripture says faith is important. Faith is a gift. Faith is what saves us. Certainly, without faith, even our being saved by grace as Paul talked about in Ephesians 2:8-9 would be hindered. Yes, faith alone. But faith is never by itself. Faith must cling to something. Or someone.
Often today’s though is to “have faith in yourself,” or “have faith in (insert noun here).” Certainly, we can have faith in each other or ourselves, have faith in our elected leaders. And then faith isn’t alone. The downside however is that faith is clinging to something that is flawed. Faith in ourselves, then, is not reliable. We make mistakes. We sin. We may lose momentum in our endeavors. We may give up and stop. Our trusted leaders, family, and friends may let us down. Then what value is that faith?
In Luke 17, Jesus encounters ten very sick men. Leprosy was a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease. Often psoriasis and eczema were included in the diagnosis of leprosy. Once a person received this dreaded diagnosis, they would have to leave the only world they have ever known and live among lepers in a colony designed just for them. With little hope for healing, they would remain in this colony until they concluded their earthly lives, sometimes in a very excruciating way.
If a group of healthy people happen to come upon lepers, the sick individuals were to call out a warning: “Lepers!” This was to alert the healthy individuals to possibly seek an alternate route so they could avoid infection. This would have happened. But then these ten lepers noticed one individual among them that could change their lives.
That was Jesus. We see what happened. Jesus told them to go to the priest to present themselves to verify with him that they were healed. He’d offer the cleansing ritual and give them a clean bill of health. And the one man, a Samaritan who recognized that he had been healed, returned to Jesus to thank him. How did Jesus respond?
“Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
Faith alone saved the lepers. The faith that the lepers had was a gift. How did they get that gift? Someone had told him about Jesus. Jesus’ reputation preceded his meeting the lepers. The lepers had faith that Jesus could health them. Their gift of faith was already clinging to the object of their faith. They were lepers who clung to Jesus. Faith alone; not by itself. Faith alone because of Jesus alone. If there is ever moments that you feel this gift of faith is wavering and you begin to feel that it may not be clinging to Jesus, remember that Jesus, what faith clings to, is always clinging to you.