Over and over in these two chapters we see examples of what faith in God looks like. In 17:5-10, we see the introduction to the power of faith, that faith means not being limited by our own small abilities. We also very quickly see that this power of faith does not make our small abilities useless or exempt us from any effort. In 17:11-19, we see that it doesn’t matter who you are, you can bring God glory through your faith. Even if you are the equivalent of a Biblical Samaritan, one of the most hated groups by the Jews of the time.
In 17:20-21, we find out where faith must grow, “…For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Take a moment to read that again and let it sink in. The remaining verses of the chapter outline the commitment required to have the kingdom of God within us. In this kingdom where the world’s measures of success and status do not apply, we cannot look back on the world with longing. In these verses we also see the result of having faith or not. It is uncomfortable to talk about the fact that not everyone will be saved, but what choice does God have if we refuse to let Him rule in our lives? He will not force us. We have to choose.
In 18:1-8 we see God’s end of the deal. He will hear us, always. In 18:9-14 we see that He will forgive us. In the following verses we jump back to how our attitude influences our faith. Faith grows in the heart of people who are as dependent on God as a child is on the adults around them. Secondly, the story of the rich young ruler illustrates that we are powerless to save ourselves, no matter how much we reach the world’s standards of success or how closely we follow the commandments. But then in 18:24-30 we see how God already has our powerlessness taken care of.
Now, for the climax of this whole sequence of passages about faith, we see Jesus point to His ultimate example of faith in 18:31-34. As a man, Jesus could have easily doubted that God would raise him from the dead. As a divine being, he fully knew what was coming and could have called it all off. But in 18:35-43, we see one of many examples of his tender compassion that made him not resist the pain required to save us. In this passage, we see Jesus’ interaction with just one man, so small in the grand scheme of things. So powerless in comparison to God’s might. But this man knows who Jesus is and has faith that He is the Messiah. He asks for his sight and Jesus heals him. And God is glorified.