Two separate incidents recorded in the Gospels have prompted me recently to ask this question. Not in a negative way; but rather to wonder at how God works, and to wonder at the faith exhibited in these two incidents. They are obviously not the only two incidents in the Gospels, but they have been on my mind for a while.
The first is recorded for us in Luke 7; at the end of the chapter. It is interesting that so much is made of faith in this chapter, but my thoughts are focused on the last sentence in the chapter: “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
What was it that caused this dear woman to have faith? We know nothing about her other than what we are told in this passage. Her contrition and devotion are clearly shown in her actions. However, we are not given any details of what led up to this moment in her life. Something had brought her to the point in her life where she understood who this one was who had been invited to dine in the house of this Pharisee. Understanding this, and knowing the depths of her need of forgiveness, she intrudes on this dinner, and pours our her love and devotion at His feet.
The Sovereign Son of God forgives her sins, which were many; but adds this thought, that it was her faith that had saved her.
The other incident is found in Luke 23, in verses 39 through 43.
Two men, almost certainly Jews, and likely Zealots or bandits were being crucified. As the one said, they deserved their punishment. Their crucifixion was horrible and designed to be a deterrent to others who might think of doing what they had done. Very soon they would die of suffocation with their legs broken and trying vainly to breath as they hung there suspended by their arms.
They would not likely have been in the terrible physical shape our Lord was in. He had endured all the abuse of the trials; to say nothing of the agony of the Garden.
And yet, this one malefactor said some amazing things. First of all, he called Jesus “Lord”. This word comes off our lips sometimes with such ease that we might fail to understand what it would have meant for this criminal to utter it. Secondly, he understands that this one is, in fact, a king. Of course, the inscription over our Saviour said that, but most of those who read it did not think that he really was a king. This man did. Thirdly, he speaks of our Saviour “coming into his kingdom”. What is implied in those words? Did he think that Jesus would, in fact, come down from the cross in a miraculous way? Or did he have some understanding of the resurrection and/or the coming of the Lord in glory and power? Had he listened to the parables that spoke of these things? We are not told.
But I was struck by the faith of this man. In his words that day are manifested an understanding of, and reliance on the person of this One hanging on a cross beside him. Later that day he would die; with the words of our Lord still in his mind: “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”