To be instantly healed of our physical and mental ailments! Ahh .. how many of us would drive anywhere, fly anywhere, walk anywhere or even carry our loved one anywhere if we had a guarantee of being healed. We would seek healing with a desperation born of the suffering from ill-heath.
And that is exactly what happened in Jesus’s day when Israel was abuzz with rumours of a wandering preacher performing healing miracles. People walked for miles, went without food or shelter for days, climbed trees, touched Jesus, begged him. Anything to secure physical health. National healthcare and social security systems were non-existent. Anyone with an ailment was usually unable to work productively and often ended up in poverty. The causes of deafness, blindness, skin diseases, mental illness were not well understood, and in many cases, were attributed to evil spirits.
Enter Jesus at the age of 30. His cousin John had devoted his life to preparing his countrymen for his ministry, but not all had heeded his call. What better way for Jesus to preach with authority and to draw crowds to listen to his fresh new message of salvation than to perform healing miracles. Yet, physical healing was not the primary reason for his ministry. Jesus came to heal much more than physical bodies. He said of his mission: “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:10. Jesus indeed was the ultimate healer of broken, desperate souls.
This was not a new idea. The concept of healed souls being of greater importance than healed bodies is one of the most important themes running through the Bible. Time and time again, miraculous healing by God is associated with spiritual healing. When the wandering nation of Israel was bitten by snakes in the wilderness, Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed. To experience healing, those bitten needed the faith to crawl out of their tents and gaze at the bronze snake with the belief that God would heal them.
God used a protracted process to bring spiritual healing not only to Naaman, the captain of the Syrian army, but probably to many others of his countrymen who witnessed God’s power. Naaman, who was suffering from leprosy, resisted Elisha’s instructions to wash in the river Jordan as being beneath him, particularly in front of the massive entourage who accompanied him from Syria. When he finally followed God’s instructions, he was healed not only from leprosy but from his spiritual ill-health. After his physical renewal in the Jordan River, Naaman demonstrated his spiritual healing by standing humbly before Elisha declaring, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.” (2 Kings 5:15)
In Psalms, we read that God heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds. (Psalm 147:3) Through Jeremiah, God begs to heal his people: “My wayward children,” says the Lord, “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.”
Fast forward to the greatest healer who walked on earth. During His three years of ministry, we read of 37 miracles that Jesus performed, the majority of which were acts of healing. Not only did He perform miracles to give authority to his teaching, but his ministry was also driven by that beautiful characteristic of compassion. Jesus reflected the compassionate healing power of the Father spoken of throughout the Scriptures.
Repeatedly we read that Jesus was moved with compassion to act. This prompted him to give sight to the blind men. Compassion led him to heal the sick amongst a large crowd. When crowds followed him into the desert, he was moved with compassion to feed them all, lest they faint with hunger on their way home. And on another occasion, Mark tells us that “When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.” Jesus responded to his fellow human beings in distress by healing physically and spiritually, teaching the good news of hope.
The central focus of Jesus’ ministry was to heal souls and restore human beings to a proper relationship with God. He showed each person he touched, each person who heard his words, what God, the ultimate healer, was like. Luke tells us that the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus (Luke 5:17).
Jesus told his followers that he could do nothing by himself, only through the power that God had given him.
Jesus dealt with spiritual and physical needs together. In his interaction with a man paralysed from birth, he gave both physical and spiritual healing. Astoundingly, he gave the man not only the gift of walking but also said to him, “Your sins are forgiven”, a priceless spiritual healing.
So, what happens when our prayers for healing nowadays seem not to be answered as we would like them to be? Martha, the sister of Lazarus, gives an amazingly faithful insight into this extreme disappointment. She said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 2 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.”
Jesus is telling us that our spiritual salvation is even more important than our bodily healing. Yet God is always there to comfort us in our struggles. The Psalmist tells us that “My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” (Psalm 73:26)
Jesus wants to make us whole: both physically and more importantly, spiritually. He came to spiritually heal individuals. He came to spiritually heal God’s beloved nation of the Jews. He came to spiritually heal the world. All this through his life, his death and his resurrection. Reconciliation with God is a healing of our relationship fractured by Sin in the Garden. When He miraculously healed people, Jesus showed a physical manifestation of that restoration to a relationship with God; a taste of the coming age when we will all be physically healed with new whole bodies and death will reign no more.
Jesus lived and died and rose again that we may have spiritual healing. Malachi paints a beautiful picture of God’s ultimate healing through Jesus. “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. (Malachi 4:2)
Back to our original question. If we heard that we could be healed, would we do anything to ensure that ourselves and our loved ones were restored to health? Thankfully, we have heard the news that a preacher from Israel can absolutely give us the joy of spiritual health. Will we do anything to ensure this gift from the Son of God? Will we share this exciting good news?