Thy Faith hath saved thee.
Words which claim attention, because often quoted to prove that a sinner’s salvation is effected by his believing.
Jesus said to the woman, whom He had healed of the issue of blood—“Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole”—literally, “hath saved thee” (Matt. 9:22; Mark 5:34; Luke 8:48).
Jesus said to Bartimeus, after he had received his sight—“Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole”—literally, “hath saved thee” (Mark 10:52; Luke 18:42).
Jesus said to the Samaritan leper, whom He had cured—“Thy faith hath made thee whole”—literally, “hath saved thee” (Luke 17:19).
Three miracles of healing are here referred to. The Faith mentioned was the appeal of physical sufferers for relief. It was not spiritual, but rational, and based upon a persuasion of Christ’s ability (as the Divine Messiah) to effect supernatural cures. The salvation, therefore, was not that of the immortal soul, but of the body.
“Thy faith hath”—in this sense—“saved thee.” Some consider that the Lord by “Faith” meant Himself—the object of their Faith, “I, Jesus, in whom thou believest have saved thee.”
This interpretation Israel Atkinson rejects: “Appendix to ‘Faith,’” page 29. It is, indeed, playing with the words thus to understand them.
Others consider that while the healing virtue proceeded from Christ, Faith was the sinc qua non, or a necessary condition, without which it would have been impossible for Christ to heal them—and that thus Faith made them whole.
Answer.—Many of the miracles of Jesus were wrought upon people who had no Faith: Lazarus (John 11); the widow’s son (Luke 7:12-15); and the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:22-42) were dead when His power was exerted; and in many other instances it is evident that the minds of those He healed were quiescent, and not in a state of expectant trust that He would benefit them. It was, therefore, no general rule that men must believe on Christ before He could work miracles on their diseased or disabled bodies.
Since, then, Christ was able to heal men at His pleasure, whether they believed in Him or not, the words “Thy Faith hath saved thee” did not mean that their Faith had contributed to their cure. It did not make them whole instrumentally, as a medicine administered by a physician is the means of the cure effected, without which his skill would be unavailing.
In fact, the miracles of Christ were wrought (as the bounties of His providence are dispensed) on the evil and the good—on men that were to be eternally saved—on men that had natural Faith in His Messiahship only—and on men who were destitute of Faith altogether.
In the cases of those whose belief in His Messiahship had brought them to Him for relief, Jesus viewed their motive with approbation, and eulogized the Faith which had thus honoured Him.
Just as belief in a physician’s ability induces a patient to apply to him, so their Faith had brought them to Jesus, and in this sense we understand the phrase under consideration. “Thy Faith” which led thee to Me “hath saved thee,” hath proved a link in the chain of events which hath brought about thy cure.
Why were the words uttered? 1. As an assurance of the reality of the cures. The persons were not only relieved, but “made whole.” The emphasis is on the word “hath saved thee.” 2. They expressed the freeness with which the cures were effected. The simple appeal of conscious need availed. “He will not despise the prayer of the destitute.” Psa. 102:17. 3. They conveyed the Lord’s high estimate, even of natural Faith. He could not behold its operation without noting his approval of it.
Jesus said to the woman that was [had been] a sinner, “Thy Faith hath saved thee” (Luke 7:50).
This, though similar to the above, is of widely different import, and should not be confounded with them. They referred to the salvation of the body; this to the salvation of the soul. They to natural Faith; this to spiritual Faith. Yet the fact that they are verbally the same, suggests the propriety of studying them together.
Thy Faith hath saved thee—whose? A fallen woman, who had previously seen and heard Jesus, and, constrained by His grace, had abandoned her depraved life. She had been (though now no longer) a sinner—a woman who lived on her shame (verse 37).
[Not “was” but “had been”. So baron bouchier, Valpy, and Wordsworth. Alford, on the other hand, insists—but without reason—that she was a prostitute even to this time.
“She had listened to the words of Jesus, perhaps to His invitation to those that laboured and were heavy laden to come to Him for rest. Lost, till now, to self-respect, an outcast for whom no one cared, she had found One who was the Friend of sinners; who beckoned even the most hopeless to take shelter by His side. She might yet be saved from her degradation; might yet retrace her steps from pollution and sorrow to a pure life and peace of mind. What could she do but express her lowly gratitude for the sympathy He alone had shown; the belief in the possibility of her restoration which had itself restored her.”—Cunningham Geikie.]
Moreover, some revelation of the pitiful and pardoning love of Christ had been vouchsafed her. A responsive sentiment had been begotten in her heart. “She loved (Him) much” verse 47.* All this was before the occurrence we are considering.
*—Not loveth. Her love was of earlier date than the incident in the Pharisee’s house. She loved Jesus before she thus sought Him. Note the force of the word “for.” It is here illative (see page 235), and marks not a cause but an effect. Her love was not the cause of her forgiveness, but a proof and evidence of it.
To manifest this love was now her desire. Probably she also longed to receive from the Lord’s own lips the assurance that would quell her fears.
Love like hers could not go empty-handed. She therefore took an alabaster casket of ointment—was it alls he had in the world, the last remains of the luxurious proceeds of her sin?—and sought an interview with the Saviour in the Pharisee’s house.
What transpired the evangelist relates. No words were spoken on either side; but who can doubt that the grace which sanctioned the woman’s actions also shed peace into her troubled heart.
Surprise and indignation filled the Pharisee’s mind. But Jesus vindicated His conduct, and showed that she was no longer an abandoned, but a penitent (and, as her love proved) a pardoned, woman.
He then said unto her, “Thy sins are forgiven.”
This utterance was also resented by His fellow-guests; but Jesus was not deigning to reply to them, dismissed the woman with the coveted blessing, “Thy Faith hath saved thee: go in peace.”
1. Her Faith did not originate her salvation. The story is, indeed, a fragment. We know not how the work of grace began in her heart, but to assert that her religious life was commenced by this her act of trust—that she constituted herself a saved person by believing in Christ—would be to falsify the narrative. There is ample evidence of an inwrought work, ere she appears in the Evangelist’s narrative.
2. The Faith referred to was the approach of a conscious or sensible (and therefore regenerated) sinner to Jesus. Her heart was evidently alive with spiritual feeling. She was one “who had heard and had learned of the Father,” and so came to Jesus (John 6:45).
3. The salvation referred to was experimental. She was actually saved when grace first moved her to forsake her sinful ways; saved when her heart first glowed with shame, and tears of penitence fell from her eyes; saved during the anxious interval which preceded the above incident; saved—but without such assurance of the fact as could afford rest to her heart. Her Faith led her to Jesus, and obtained from His lips the words of peace for which she longed: words which saved her from the sting of shame; saved her from degradation; saved her from despair, by the hope and promise of a new and purer life.
4. This view harmonizes this text with the others.
In the first group of texts, physically living but diseased and disabled persons appealed to Jesus, in natural Faith, and physical relief was accorded them.
In the second text, a spiritually living, but burdened and sad-hearted sinner, appealed to Jesus in spiritual Faith, and spiritual relief was accorded her.
Natural Faith did not obtain life for dead bodies (the idea is an absurdity) but healing for living ones.
So spiritual Faith does not obtain the grace of regeneration for souls dead in trespasses and sins (the idea is an absurdity), but healing and peace for the souls of men who have passed from death unto life.
Hence we still say to a trembling and anxious sinner who enquires “What must I do to be saved”—not “shall” as often quoted: the language implies the urgency of intense anguish of soul, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).