"The prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the LORD will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven."
Even though James made this statement long after David, Jonah, the centurion and the woman of the city experienced God's mercy, they would all voice a hearty Amen.
1 Chronicles 17 concludes with David's prayer which closes with this statement, "When you grant a blessing, O LORD, it is an eternal blessing" (NLT). In 1 Chronicles 18, the repeated refrain is "The LORD gave victory to David wherever he went." In David's prayer in Chapter 17, he proclaims the LORD as the faithful One. Chapter 18 is the evidence of a faithful God.
Jonah 2 is a prayer of faith from the belly of a fish. Jonah cried to the LORD from Sheol, and the LORD rescued him. In the OT, Sheol is usually a reference to death. Jonah describes an expected death in the raging sea. His life was slipping away when he cried out to God, and He saved him by using a fish as deliverance. Jonah knew "Salvation belongs to the LORD."
The centurion's prayer of faith came through the intercession of his friends. The humility of the Roman officer before Jesus is exceptional. He understood authority because it was fundamental to the Roman military. As a centurion, he could have commanded Jesus to appear before him, but he recognized true authority just as Jesus recognized true faith. What a pronouncement, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." Of course, the friends returned to find that the slave healthy.
The woman with the alabaster flask didn't vocally express her faith, but her actions boldly proclaimed it. What a beautiful example of bold humility! She entered the party without any invitation except the one Jesus always exhibits to those who seek Him. The host of the party, who is a Pharisee, had the authority to remove the woman but didn't. He saw her as an opportunity to test Jesus, an exam he thought Jesus failed. Jesus directs his parable of the money lender's forgiveness at the host.
After John's disciples submitted his question to Jesus and Jesus' description of John, Luke includes a statement that helps us understand the host of the party. In verses 29-30, the people delighted to hear Jesus' description of John the Baptist because they accepted him as speaking for the LORD. They had willingly agreed to his baptism of repentance. The Pharisees and scribes rejected John as a prophet. Luke describes their action as the rejection of "the purpose of God" rather than the rejection of John. Since the Pharisees rejected him as the "voice of one crying in the wilderness 'Prepare the way of the Lord'...and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." it was easy to reject the One of whom he spoke.
There is no comparison with the host's welcome of Jesus to the woman’s. She would have agreed with the response of the crowd who gathered for a funeral but instead experienced life from death. Instead of grief, they glorified God with praise; "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and "God has visited his people!"
Jesus responded to her action with "Your sins are forgiven...Your faith has saved you; go in peace." Responding to Jesus in faith results in healing of the sick or the dead. The Lord will raise you up from the raging sea, the sick bed or the death brier. If sins have been committed, forgiveness and peace come from the Lord. Indeed, salvation belongs to the Lord, and those He blesses are blessed eternally.
Jesus, in You we have the perfect representation of our LORD and God. Salvation comes only through Your broken body and shed blood. Thank You for eternal grace and mercy.