His Healing by Faith

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our Advent journey and our preaching series entitled “‘Tis the Reason.” This third week of the series, Will Branch preached on two stories of healing by Jesus en route to Jerusalem in Matthew 17:14-20 and 20:29-34. Will really made me think about whether my faith is substantial or more like sand.

This message is part of the seventh part of our longer series on Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” “Stories of the Kingdom,” and “Who Do You Say I Am?”

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

The Faith Problem – Matthew 17:14-20

  • The Father and Son: I want to believe
  • The Disciples: I thought I believed
  • The teachers of the law: I won’t believe
  • The Healer: No one believesThe Faith Solution – Matthew 20:29-34

Two Blind Men – Matthew 20:29-34

  • They heard so the cried
  • They met a mountain so the cried louder
  • They saw because they believed

The Faith Calling – James 5:13-16, 2 Chron 7:14; Luke 18:6-8

  • Have you Heard? Then cry
  • Is there a mountain? Then Cry Louder

Soul Food: Feeding the 4,000

This past weekend at Eastbrook, as we continued our preaching series, “Who Do You Say I Am?”, I walked us through the account of Jesus feeding the 4,000 in Matthew 15:29-39. This story echoes another we have already looked at in the feeding of the 5,000. While I do dig into the actual account, one of the questions I try to answer is: why are there two miraculous feeding stories in the gospels?

This message is part of the sixth part of our longer series on Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” and “Stories of the Kingdom.”

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.’” (Matthew 15:32)

Jesus’ Amazing Healing (Matthew 15:29-31)

Great crowds with great needs

Great healings and great praise

Jesus’ Compassionate Heart (Matthew 15:32-33)

“I have compassion for these people …”

Jesus’ Abundant Feeding of a Great Crowd (Matthew 15:34-39)

Recognizing the needs of the crowd and limited provision

Jesus’ action: take – give thanks – break – give 

The miraculous provision for the crowd 

Why Are There Two Miraculous Feedings?

Reemphasizing the power and compassion of Jesus 

Emphasizing how Jesus’ ministry begins with the Jews but also reaches the Gentiles.

Seeing Jesus Again

His compassion moves Him

His miracles touch real needs: healing and feeding

His work for the Jew first, but also for the nations


Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize Matthew 15:36
  • Pray and reflect on Jesus’ phrase in 15:32, “I have compassion for these people.” Ask God to show you His compassion for you. Ask God to show you His compassion for others. If the Lord brings someone specifically to mind, pray for them. If the Lord brings to mind a tangible way you can minister to them, do it.
  • Journal, draw, paint, or ink this story or some aspect of it as a way of reflecting on who Jesus is and how you most need to meet with Him.
  • Consider reading Christopher J. H. Wright’s book, The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission or Henri Nouwen’s book, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World, which depicts the spiritual life through Jesus’ fourfold action in this story (taken – blessed – broken – given).

Jesus and the Canaanite Woman

This past weekend at Eastbrook, Pastor Ruth Carver continued our preaching series, “Who Do You Say I Am?”, by exploring the story of Jesus and the Canaanite Woman in Matthew 15:21-28. This is both a fascinating and challenging text, which at face value may seem like Jesus is hard and ethnocentric, but actually brings a special look into God’s sovereign plan of salvation and the nature of faith.

This message is part of the sixth part of our longer series on Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” and “Stories of the Kingdom.”

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. (Matthew 15:28)

The Request
• A Canaanite woman asks Jesus to heal her daughter.
• Jesus is off duty, needing rest.
• Woman is a representative of Israel’s enemy; she is “other”.

The Delay
• Jesus is silent.
• Jesus educates his disciples.
• Jesus tests the woman.
• The woman demonstrates her faith and perception.

The Answer
• Jesus heals the woman’s daughter.
• The woman gets a preview of God’s offer of salvation to the Gentiles.
• The disciples become prepared for the Great Commission.

Have Great Faith like the Canaanite Woman!
• Great faith is bold.
• Great faith involves our emotions.
• Great faith is persistent.
• Great faith is humble.
• Great faith involves our minds.


Dig Deeper:

Take one day to reflect on each of the five aspects of the Canaanite woman’s “great faith” this next week. Let the Holy Spirit show you how your faith can grow in these areas.

Day 1: Great faith is bold. (Eph 3:12, Heb 4:16)

Day 2: Great faith involves our emotions. (Psalm 6:6, Luke 7:44-48)

Day 3: Great faith is persistent. (Luke 18:1-8, Hebrews 12:1-3)

Day 4: Great faith is humble. (Isaiah 66:1-2, James 4:10)

Day 5: Great faith involves our minds. (Romans 1:20, 1 Cor 14:15, 2 Cor 10:3-5)

What is All Saints Day?: a brief summary

Today, November 1, we celebrate All Saints Day. All Saints Day is a feast day in the church year that follows All Hallow’s Eve (October 31). All Saints Day offers an opportunity to remember all those saints who have gone before us in the faith and to celebrate the reality that we stand amidst a great cloud of witnesses.

The epistle to the Hebrews offers one of the most comprehensive examples of this in chapter 11, which traces the history of great people of faith who have gone before us. As the writer holds before us example after example of faith, he helps us see how their lives with God are examples to us in our daily living but also encouragement to keep going in the way of faith. Closing that great passage out, the author writes:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Not only does All Saints Day hold before us the people of faith from past times, it also offers an annual reminder of our connectedness as Christians today. In times of fracture or disunity, as well as in times of peace, All Saints Day reminds us that all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation are brought together as one new community by faith in Him. It is in light of this that the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians:

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:3-6)

Not only does All Saints Day lead us to look back to believers who have gone before us and around us to the believers we share communion with in Christ, but it also points us forward to the reality that we will one day gather around the throne of God. While we live here on earth, believers are spread throughout many times and places, but there will come a day when we will all be brought together into the eternal presence of the Lord. All Saints Day reminds us of that reality described in Revelation 7:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)

Here is a traditional prayer often used for All Saints Day:

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical Body of your Son: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Living in the Waves

waves.jpg

One of the most well-known stories in the New Testament must be when Jesus invites Peter to walk on water in Matthew 14:22-33. Peter is often held up as either an example of bold faith in stepping out of the boat or faltering faith in sinking into the waves.

However, there is another part of the story that captures my attention and it has to do with the waves. When this memorable episode from the life of Jesus and the life of Peter takes place, it is surrounded by waves of challenge.

The first type of waves is the waves of people. Immediately before this, Jesus miraculously feeds a crowd of more than five thousand people. This crowd was pressing in around Jesus. Jesus dismissed them, but, even after the walking on water episode, they hunted Him down and asked for more. It is likely, from what we read in parallel accounts, that the crowds actually hoped to make Jesus king. The waves of people surrounded Him.

Along with the waves of people came the waves of emotions. After an exciting yet stressful ministry day with people, the disciples were exhausted. They seem not only exhausted by the work they were doing with Jesus, but also by the fact that Jesus Himself was difficult to understand. This led to a sort of emotional exhaustion and anticipation that always kept the disciples on their toes. They needed to get away.  It seems that Jesus also needed to get away. The pressures on Him to live into a human-defined image of Messiah-ship, yet pushing against that in obedience to the Father, lead Him to want to draw away with the Father again.

Of course, along with these waves of human pressure and emotional pressure come a third type: the waves of natural life. The literal winds and waves that beat against the boat threaten everyone in this situation. The natural order was not on their side and could not be easily controlled. This heightened physical circumstance augments the other more subtle waves around Jesus and His disciples.

Attention to the waves in this situation tells me one important thing to keep in focus. The waves – the challenges we face – are a normal part of life.

I want to draw this out because so many of us are waiting for “someday.” We all do this at times. We have that tendency to wait for a day when we believe that everything will become calm or everything will be at perfect peaceful. If not that, many of us are simply looking for the day when everything feels “normal,” even if we have never defined what that is.

When that normal day comes, many of us say, we will then be ready to follow Christ or take some dramatic step of faith. Until then, we are on hold in fear or confusion.

However, the very setting in which Peter makes his bold step of faith is in the waves. This is important to pay attention to because the Lord is reminding us through the context of this story that waves are normal.

The challenges of people and relationships that Jesus and the apostles faced are similar to the waves with people that we face.  The challenges of emotions and pressures that Jesus and the apostles faced are similar to the emotional waves that we face. The challenges of the natural things that happen – natural life changes, natural aging, natural circumstances of the environment – are similar to the natural waves that we face.

And this is what strikes me today: these waves are the normal setting in which faith rises up. Because of this, we don’t need to wait for someday.  Someday will not come because it does not exist. The waves in which we find ourselves are the setting in which we must take a step of faith.