As we continue this series looking at questions Jesus asked, we come today to the question “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
We find it in Matthew 9:28 where Jesus asks this question of two blind men who have come to him for help. Jesus has just performed two miracles- healing a woman who has suffered bleeding for twelve years, and raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead. As Jesus leaves Jairus’ house the blind men follow him, calling out, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” When Jesus reaches the house where he is staying they follow him inside, and that is when he asks the question.
Like many of Jesus’ questions, at first glance it seems a strange thing to ask, because it seems obvious that the blind men have faith.
- They have witnessed Jesus’ power in the other miracles he has just done. Of course they haven’t seen this for themselves but they would have heard the reaction of the crowd and they obviously believe in his power.
- They show amazing persistence and determination. I don’t know how far Jairus’ house was from the place where Jesus was staying, but they follow him all the way! That can’t be easy when you’re blind, but they persist in following him and shouting for help.
- Their words indicate that they have faith. They call Jesus “Son of David,” a title which refers to the Messiah, so they clearly believe he is the promised deliverer sent from God.
- They follow Jesus right into the house where he is staying. They are clearly not going to give up.
All of this makes me wonder why Jesus asked the question. Surely he already knew the answer.
It had me puzzled until I discovered some helpful insights in a sermon by Charles Spurgeon. You can read the complete sermon here.
He suggests placing the emphasis on the last word of the sentence: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
Jesus was asking more than whether they believed in the power he had just shown in other people’s situations, or even than whether they believed in theory that he was the Messiah. He was asking whether they believed that he had power to do this…now…for them.
I think sometimes it can be easy to believe the theory of who Jesus is, and maybe to believe that he has worked in other people’s lives, but it can be harder to believe that he wants to work in my life, in my situation.
This is the kind of faith Jesus is looking for though, and it is the kind of faith the blind men display: “Yes, Lord, we do,” they reply, and Jesus touches them and heals them. “Because of your faith, it will happen.” (Matthew 9:29 NLT)
This is a challenge to me. Do I believe that Jesus is able to do this (whatever “this” is) for me? Do I trust in him for my salvation, for my healing, for my forgivness, for him to answer my prayers and work in my situation? It is one thing to believe in theory and another to place our lives in his hands, but this is the kind of faith Jesus is looking for.
It’s one thing to believe in theory. It’s another to believe in Jesus’ power now, for this, for me. (Click to tweet.)
God is the one with the power to heal and transform, but sometimes our faith is a necessary part of it. I wrote here about a time when God challenged me with this question, and I believe the healing that resulted only came because I was willing to step out in faith. By contrast, in Nazareth, Jesus’ power was limited by a lack of faith: “Because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.” (Mark 6:5 NLT)
There is another side to this though, which we can’t ignore.
There are times when we have faith. We believe with all our hearts that Jesus can do “this,” or at the very least we have “faith as small as a mustard seed” which Jesus said was enough to move mountains. (Matthew 17:20) We are willing to step out in faith and play our part. We show every bit of the same persistence and determination that the blind men displayed as we plead with God to help, and yet the miracle doesn’t come. I have been there too, and I think most of the time, in these situations, we can’t understand why.
If I was to honestly answer the question, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” most of the time I think my answer would be: “Yes, I believe you are able. I have seen you transform situations, I believe in your power and I know that nothing is impossible… but I’m not sure if I believe you will.”
Maybe that’s okay though. God rarely gives any guarantees about how he will answer our prayers. I think there are times when faith is believing that God can and will move mountains, but there are also times when faith is trusting in God’s goodness and continuing to place our hope in him, even when the mountains refuse to move. Ultimately our faith has to be in him rather than it resting on a particular outcome.
Faith is trusting that God can move mountains but it’s also trusting when the mountains don’t move. (Click to tweet.)
“I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand,
But even if You don’t,
My hope is You alone.”
This is part 6 of a series reflecting on questions Jesus asked. Click to read the other posts:
What Do You Want Me To Do For You?
Do You Want To Get Well?
How Much Bread Do You Have?
Who Touched My Robe?
Can Worry Add To Your Life?