Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.
“The Faith, Which is Saving Us”
Today, I want to talk about “faith.” Yes, how faith, saves us. We believe that we are saved by faith through Jesus Christ. It is Martin Luther who spoke about it first saying, “Salvation is not earned by good deeds but is received only as of the gift of God’s grace through the believer’s faith in Jesus Christ as Redeemer from sin.” Martin Luther was a German professor of theology, priest, and Augustinian monk. He has walked up the stone stairs in a monastery on his knees and studied the Bible his whole life to study the mystery of salvation. At that time, the Roman Catholic Church sold “indulgences” to believers as forgiveness without repentance. They believed that the people who bought “indulgences” would be saved. But, the “indulgences” were not cheap. Most people could not easily afford it. They had to sell everything they had to buy them, and then they became slaves of the monastery. Meanwhile, Luther recognized that salvation is God’s gift to the believers in Jesus Christ. He criticized the “sale of indulgences” and published 95 theses in 1517. It was the beginning of the reformation of the church. With many theologians agreeing with him, protestant churches started, such as Lutheran, Presbyterian, Wesleyan (Methodists), and Baptist churches. Most protestant Christians believe that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ through God’s grace.
I also believe that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ through the grace of God. However, I wonder what “faith” means. The Letter of Hebrews says, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith, that is, what we hope comes true into our everyday life. In other words, faith is to show evidence of how we believe in God in our daily life. Luther said, “Salvation is not earned by a good deed, but is God’s gift, received by believers’ faith in Jesus Christ. Many Christians misunderstand his statement of “salvation,” only focusing on “not earned by good deed.” Some Christians believe that salvation by “faith in Jesus Christ” means that it is a “free gift” from God without any effort. Imagine the “free gift.” We give “gifts” to those who are in a good relationship, or receive them from those who are in good relationships. Like this, God’s gift is the same. God gives “the gift of salvation” to those of us who are in a good relationship with God.
The word faith, according to the Dictionary of Jesus and Gospel, “is essential to human relationships in general, but gains its special biblical connotations from the interaction of God with humanity, his reliability and our response of trusting in him.” Therefore, the faith in Jesus Christ, saves us, gives us a free gift in a good relationship with God. We may simply say faith is the good relationship with God through Jesus Christ. People who are in a good relationship respect each other and love each other. Furthermore, they try to do well with each other. John Wesley said, believers, “Do not harm each other,” and “do good” for each other. Faith in God is to do the same to God. Do not dishonor God’s name and do what God wills us to do.
Today’s scripture shows us an excellent example of faith. There are two stories: a girl restored to life, and a woman healed. Verse 21 begins, saying, “When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea.” It seems as though Jesus had crossed the sea by boat several times. Whenever Jesus appeared, many crowds followed him. At that moment, one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came, fell at Jesus’ feet, and begged him repeatedly, “my little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her so that she may be made well and live.” So, Jesus went with him to heal the girl. But, still, many people followed Jesus on the street.
On his way, a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years came to Jesus. Verses 26 through 28 says, “She had endured much under many physicians and had spent all that she had, and she was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his robe, for she said, if I touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately, she was healed, which means her bleeding stopped. Meanwhile, someone came from the leader’s house and said, “your daughter is dead.”
Let us pay attention to two people- Jairus and the woman. Jairus was one of the leaders of the synagogue. A synagogue is a Jewish temple. Namely, Jairus was a Jewish leader, which means socially, religiously, politically, and economically in a higher class. In contrast, the woman suffering from an illness of bleeding was an outcast socially, religiously, politically, and economically. The Jewish leaders, at that time, didn’t like Jesus’ ministry and authority because people followed him instead of them. Jairus was one of them. However, he came to Jesus, kneeled down before his feet, and begged for his precious daughter. Only a father can understand the love for a twelve-year-old daughter. His daughter means more to him than an interpretation of the Law or his standing in the synagogue. For her sake, he was willing to risk religious ridicule and public embarrassment by kneeling at Jesus’ feet and begging him to come to his home and heal his daughter, who was at the point of death. Finally, Jesus decided to go to his house with him to heal her.
However, on the way, Jesus delayed going toward Jairus’ house because of a poor and outcast woman. She knew herself well. She couldn’t come to Jesus like Jairus. She reached behind him among the crowd. She wanted to touch Jesus’ robe, but nobody knew. As soon as she touched Jesus’ robe immediately, she was healed. But, Jesus said, “Who touched me?” Jesus looked for who touched him. She was in fear and trembling. He was delayed, and then, he heard that Jairus’ daughter was dead. Perhaps, Jesus wouldn’t have ignored her and she wouldn’t have needed to come up behind him and touch his robe in secret. Rather, Jesus would call her up in public. He might want to show the crowd, who may have ignored her, and wanted to excommunicate her from their community and society. Finally, she showed up before Jesus and told him her whole story in public. And, Jesus said to her in front of everyone, “go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” She was healed, but Jairus’ daughter was dead.
If you were Jairus, how would you feel? You might feel frustrated, angry, disappointed, afraid, and etc. Jairus also seemed to like “afraid” of her death. Jesus knew his fear of her daughter’s death and said, “Do not fear, only believe.” Finally, he went to Jairus’ house to see his daughter. People were weeping and wailing loudly. Jesus put them all outside, only allowed her family members and his three disciples to be with him. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talithacum,” which means. “Little girl, get up!” and immediately, the girl got up and began to walk.
Through two people -Jairus and a woman, we learn about faith. Faith is to act courageously for what we hope for. Faith is to come before Jesus as Jairus and the woman came to Jesus no matter what our statuses are. Faith saves us when we go to Jesus courageously and show evidence of how we have a good relationship with God and our neighbors, as a witness and a disciple of Jesus. So let us come to Jesus closer and showing our faith in God and to our neighbors. Thanks be to God. Amen.