“Thy Faith Hath Saved Thee”

As we journey through our mortal life—in fact, as we have already journeyed through our pre-mortal life and will journey through our post-mortal life—one thing seems clear enough: Heavenly Father is actively involved in our lives. He isn’t using a super-high tech surveillance system like the one up in Bluffdale that watches, listens, and records our every move. Unlike the government, he isn’t a passive observer that only gets involved once you do something wrong. No. He, and his Beloved Son, and his Holy Spirit, and the countless ministering servants acting under their direction, are all involved in the macro events as well as the micro events of our lives.

Back in 2002, my wife and I were fortunate enough to spend a week in Paris. At the Louvre Museum in the Grande Galerie, after viewing the surprisingly tiny (30 x 21-inch) portrait of Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, better known as the Mona Lisa (Mrs. Lisa), we did an about face and looked at the largest painting in the museum. It was the Wedding Feast at Cana by Paolo Caliari Veronese. It is almost 22 feet high and 33 feet wide, about 710 square feet. It took about 15 months to paint it. He didn’t do it alone. He was probably aided by members of his family because art was the family business.

Wedding Feast at Cana by Paolo Caliari Veronese
Wedding Feast at Cana by Paolo Caliari Veronese

Unlike me, who just stood back and admired the massive masterpiece—the really big picture—God is an active participant. He is the master painter of our lives. He is not just merely interested in the smallest brush strokes and the color nuances that make up our daily lives—he is actively guiding our hands as we help paint it. Telling us to put a little dab there and a little daub there.

Even though we have agency and can make our own decisions, I believe our Eternal Father knows us so well that he knows what we’re going to do with our lives. Just like we know when we drop a rock that it will fall straight down. When you combine that knowledge with the knowledge of what everyone else is going to do, you pretty much know what’s going to happen throughout the entire space-time continuum. Perhaps that’s why one of the characteristics of God is omniscience. So nothing really comes as a surprise to him.

Furthermore, because he knows us so well, he knew that we needed to grow and improve so that we could become more like him. He knew—and we knew—that we needed to experience some very specific things in life. I’m going to experience very different things than you even though we live next door to each other. So he carefully placed us in certain places at certain times with certain people so that these purposes could be accomplished.

It’s like we’re helping him paint a gigantic masterpiece. Except we’re in charge of a teeny little portion of the painting. He, working through his Spirit, will guide our hands if we let him. If we don’t, well, we make all sorts of mistakes. Fortunately, God’s son is right there behind us, with a bucket of paint remover and solvent to help us clean up our mistakes. It is entirely up to us whether our contribution to the painting of life blends in, stands out, or flakes off.

Last week’s lesson focused on things that were lost—the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. Today’s lesson is on a similar vein. We will focus on the love and compassion and condescension of God to four people who had each lost something precious to them, and then, because of their faith in Christ—or the faith of those around them—they found it again.

Let us now review the stories of the widow, the blind man, the tax collector, and the dead man.

The Widow

Let’s start off in Luke, chapter 18, verses 1-8. This is the parable of the unjust judge and the widow.

Luke 18:1-8

1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

I love it when the Savior comes right out and tells us what he’s going to say. In this case, “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”

2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.

7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

In this parable, Jesus said the judge was unjust. Why was he unjust? Because it took him a while before he did the right thing and administered justice. He finally acted because he was tired of the widow bothering him. If she didn’t bother him, perhaps he never would have acted. Not exactly model behavior. Now-a-days, he’s probably be disbarred or disrobed, or whatever they do to corrupt judges. (Or maybe they’d appoint him to the Supreme Court.)

The lesson behind this parable is that if even an unjust judge will eventually give-in to consistent and fervent pleas, how much more quickly will God—the personification of justice and mercy—answer our consistent and fervent prayers.

Here’s what Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:

He is not here speaking of the simplistic principle that earnest and repetitious importunings will eventually be heard and answered, though this may be true in some cases…. Rather, this parable, as we shall see, teaches that if the saints will continue to importune in faith for that which is right, and because their cause is just, though the answers to their prayers may be long delayed, yet, finally in the day of vengeance when he judges whose judgment is just, when he comes again to rule and reign, the faithful shall be rewarded. (Mortal Messiah 3:287)

In verse 1 Jesus said we need to pray always. So obviously prayer is not just a mental or a vocal act that we do once a day, or twice a day, or as written in the Jewish Talmud, three times a day: the morning shacharit, the afternoon minchah, and the nightfall arvith or maariv. Prayer is more than a ritual. It is also a reflection of our attitude towards God and his children—an attitude that leads us towards righteous behaviors. That’s the message of Alma 34:27-28:

Alma 34:27-28

27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.

28 And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith.

So saying prayers and being prayerful, without accompanying good works, isn’t recommended behavior. We have to do something. As we’ve heard before, “pray as if it all depends on the Lord; act as if it all depends on you.” But before we act, make sure we explain the problem and our proposed solution to Heavenly Father. Sometimes he’ll answer yes, sometimes no, and sometimes he’ll withhold an answer until he thinks we are ready for it. But answer he will. That’s what this parable teaches us.


Next, let’s turn to Luke 18:35-43 where we’ll learn about how faith healed a blind man down near Jericho.

Luke 18:35-43

35 ¶And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging:

The man’s name, as recorded in Mark, is Bartimaeus, or the son of Timaeus. The scriptures are surprisingly silent on the names of those who have been healed by Jesus. In fact, many times he asked them not to say anything at all. But for some reason this person was named. It was a strange name too—part Semitic, part Greek; a mixture of the Jew and the Gentile. I see a symbol in there—how the Gospel is available to all with eyes to see; but hey, maybe that’s just me.

36 And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant.

37 And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

38 And he cried, saying, Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.

39 And they which went before rebuked him, telling him that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more exceedingly, saying, Son of David, have mercy on me.

40 And Jesus stood stil, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him,

41 Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.

There’s something to be admired about this kind of gumption and determination. It is kind-of refreshing. No beating around the bush for bold beggar Bartimaeus. He knew what he wanted and took advantage of the opportunity. Perhaps he had positioned himself by the road for days hoping the Jesus would pass by again. He just didn’t sit back and moan about his misery. He did something. He put his thoughts and feelings into action. He recognized Jesus as the “Son of David,” which was an acknowledgement that he believed him to be the Messiah. And he pled for mercy—not once, not twice, but three times.

42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath made the whole.

43 And immediately he received his sight, and he followed him, glorifying God. And all the disciples when they saw this, gave praise unto God.

It can’t be that easy, can it? It seems like the man just asked—and he received. Surely miracles like that don’t happen in our day and age, do they?

I testify that they do. If we want to see them, all we have to do is open our eyes, look around, look within, and we will behold miracle after miracle after miracle.


Now let’s jump over to the next chapter, chapter 19. Here we’ll learn what happens when Jesus was invited into the house of Zacchæus (zae–ehæ’–us), a name which means washed, cleansed, purified, guileless.

Luke 19:1-10

1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.

2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchæus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

At that time, Jericho produced and exported a significant amount of balsam—the resin base of a number of medicines and perfumes. Think, for example, of the famed Balm of Gilead. Not only that, but Jericho was right on the trade route. With all that production and trade going on, the tax gatherers were obviously doing quite well.

3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

So there were crowds gathering around Jesus and Zacchæus was too short to see over them. For what it’s worth, 10 years ago an auxologist (someone who study’s height) by the name of Geoffrey Kron examined 927 adult male Roman skeletons that were dated to have lived between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500,. He found that the average height was 5’5”, which is about five inches shorter than today’s average American. (Kron, Geoffrey. “Anthropometry, physical anthropology, and the reconstruction of ancient health, nutrition, and living standards.” Historia: Zeitschrift fur Alte Geschichte (2005): 68-83.)

So if you were little of stature, you’d be less than that, perhaps under five feet. There was no way you could see over the crowd that had gathered to see Jesus. The funny thing is, nobody seemed to mind. Nobody said, “Hey Zacchæus, come with me and we’ll go see Jesus together.” Nope. He had been ignored and looked over. So he took matters into his own hands.

4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.

5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchæus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.

Notice that Jesus was always looking out for the little people. The people who didn’t have a lot of status in life. The people who were alone. The people who were marginalized—the unimportant, the despised, the rejected. And the excommunicated—as most publicans had been (see Publicans, Bible Dictionary).

6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

Do we receive the Lord and the Lord’s servants immediately and with joy? If not, we’re up a tree.

7 And when the disciples saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

According the Joseph Smith translation, all of the disciples were appalled that Jesus would associate with a man considered to have such low moral character. Boy, the publicans sure got a bad rap, didn’t they? Zacchæus really got the short end of the stick. Maybe it was justified—but just maybe it wasn’t. Maybe there was more to this man than his occupation.

I know there have been times when I have ignored or excluded individuals because of their appearance, or their station in life, or the people around them, or their personality quirks. But that would be wrong, wouldn’t it, because we never know just how much faith and goodness we might find within their hearts. Faith is something that is kind-of hard to spot from a distance. In my experience, you have to get up close and personal to detect its presence.

8 And Zacchæus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by unjust means, I restore fourfold.

He gave half of his goods to the poor. If he found out he took more than he should have, he didn’t just pay it back, he paid it back times four, exactly as the scriptures commanded (Exodus 22:1). This shows a truly repentant heart—and it is our hearts that the Lord is most interested. Let’s keep in mind one of the reoccurring themes of the Gospel: The righteous are those who are repenting; the wicked are those who do not.

9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

In short, even though he was once lost in the crowd, Zacchæus now stood out as one who was found.


Finally, let’s over to John, chapter 11. This is the story of Lazarus. It is one of the most beautiful and moving stories in the scriptures that clearly tells us that anything is possible—including overcoming death—if we have faith in Christ. It is so beautiful I’m not going to ruin it with commentary, like I usually do.

But before I do here are some important facts to help set the scene:

  • By some accounts it appears that it is now less than 10 days before Jesus would be crucified. If there ever was a foreshadowing of what was going to take place within the next two weeks, it was this event.
  • There are lots of symbols in this story. For example, the story is set in the springtime, when things that once appeared to be dead suddenly come back to life. I’m not going to have any time today to point them out. But see if you can spot them.
  • The story talks about Bethany, the town where Lazarus lived. It is about two miles east of Jerusalem behind the Mount of Olives.
  • Martha seemed to be the land-owner here. She was responsible for the care of the family, which included Mary and Lazarus.
  • For some reason, Jesus had a very tight relationship with this family. He loved them deeply.
  • This will be the third time Jesus raised someone from the dead during this mortal ministry. Unlike the other times, this one was very public and was witnessed by many.
  • And unlike the other times, when the person had died hours before, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Traditionally, the Jews believed that the spirit of the dead lingered near his body for three days. But once he was buried, and the grave sealed and dedicated, he would leave the physical world for good. So a miracle after four days was quite significant.
  • Please check out the video (found below) the Church produced called “Lazarus is Raised from the Dead.” First, watch it by yourself where people can’t see you cry. Then, watch it with your loved ones. It is an amazing presentation.
  • What I’m going to read will differ slightly from the King James text, because I’m going to read from Joseph Smith’s Inspired Version.

John 11:1–44

1 Now a certain man was sick, whose name was Lazarus, of the town of Bethany;

2 And Mary, his sister, who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, lived with her sister, Martha, in whose house her brother Lazarus was sick.

3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

4 And when Jesus heard he was sick, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

6 And Jesus tarried two days, after he heard that Lazarus was sick, in the same place where he was.

7 After that he said unto his disciples, Let us go into Judæa again.

8 But his disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?

9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.

10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.

12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.

13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.

14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him; for they feared lest the Jews should take Jesus and put him to death, for as yet they did not understand the power of God.

17 And when Jesus came to Bethany, to Martha’s house, Lazarus had already been in the grave four days.

18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:

19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

29 As soon as Mary heard that Jesus was come, she arose quickly, and came unto him.

30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met him.

31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.

32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,

34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

That’s what Jesus came here to do. To loose us from the chains of death and hell, so that we leave our old selves behind and become new creatures, able to move forward with invigorated bodies and spirits.

He is standing at the door to eternal life, and he is calling us by name, Hugo, Christine, Owen, Lucy, Jennifer—come forth. Come forth out of the darkness and into the light. Come forth from the emptiness that comes from sin. Come forth from doubt into a world of faith. Come forth into his warm embrace.

And come forth we will, because Jesus truly is the Christ. As the Christ, he is continuing—at this very moment—the mission he committed to complete. He was sent by our Father to rescue and redeem each and every one of us so that we may return to our heavenly home.

All we need to do is exercise faith in him, make and keep certain covenants, receive all the necessary ordinances, and then, every single day for the rest of lives and continuing on far into the eternities, we need to repent of our sins so that the Spirit can dwell within us, sanctify us, and teach us how to live and what to do with our lives.

With the Spirit of God as our companion, we will be able to accomplish our assigned missions with honor and integrity. We will be able to paint our part of the masterpiece because we have felt the touch of the Master’s hand.


I am a teacher in my local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint congregation. This lesson, based on Luke 18 and 19, as well as John 11, focuses on the love and compassion and condescension of God to four people who had each lost something precious to them, and then, because of their faith in Christ—or the faith of those around them—they found it again. Here are the stories of the widow, the blind man, the tax collector, and the dead man. This lesson was presented on 31 May 2015 and corresponds with lesson 19 in the LDS Gospel Doctrine class.

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