Women of Notable Faith

February 1, 2012

Jesus explicitly mentions the faith of only three women in the Gospels. Can you guess who they are? His mother maybe? Mary Magdalene? Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus? 

Nope. These women may have possessed notable faith, but the Gospel writers never mentioned it. The faith Jesus commented on belonged to three women least likely to be commended by his fellow first-century Jews:

 1. A ceremonially unclean woman who had missed worship services for 12 years.

2. A Canaanite woman who was neither an ethnic nor religious Jew.

3. A prostitute. 

Here’s what Jesus said to these women. 

1. To the woman with chronic bleeding who believed Jesus had so much power that it rubbed off on his clothes, he said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.”

2. To the mother who practically demanded that Jesus heal her daughter’s demon possession, he said, “Woman, you have great faith!”

3. To the immoral woman who believed that her “many sins” really could be forgiven, he said, “Your faith has saved you.” 

Granted, these three women aren’t the only people in the Bible whose faith was ever commended. I believe that we can learn something, though, by digging deeper to see what Jesus saw in them. 

The woman with a 12-year bleeding problem had spent all her money trying every medical treatment available to her and had only gotten worse. She knew that most rabbis would refuse physical contact with her because it would make them ceremonially unclean. So in a pressing crowd, she tried a sneak attack from behind, sure that the mere touch of Jesus’ clothes would bring all the healing she needed. She wasn’t asking for his time and attention—just a little miracle on the sly. 

The Canaanite/Greek mother had a daughter who suffered terribly from demon possession. She knew how Jews felt about Gentiles, but the minute she heard Jesus was in town, she ran to him, even though she risked rejection. She cried out to him, ignoring the disciples’ bigotry. She fell at his feet and pleaded for mercy. This was her chance to get her daughter healed, and she would not be denied. She didn’t need the whole loaf of bread; she would take whatever crumbs she could get from Jesus. 

The sinful woman must have encountered Jesus previously. She wasn’t there to plead for mercy; she was there to thank him for it. She actually believed the very thing that many of us have such trouble accepting—that our many sins can really be forgiven. There was no chance she was ever going to earn her way spiritually out of the mess she was in. Her only choice was to trust Jesus when he said he would take care of it all. Because she had been forgiven much, she loved much and totally disregarded self-righteous Simon and his uncharitable thoughts.  

Each of these women was desperate in her own way. Each had challenging circumstances beyond her own ability to fix. Each believed with all her heart that Jesus was the one who could solve her problem. 

So they each decided to take a risk and stepped out…

– With an outstretched arm.
– With swallowed pride.
– With an expensive bottle of perfume.

And with faith.

Faith worth mentioning—out loud so everyone could hear it.

 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Hebrews 11:1

Leave a Reply