Not long ago, some MPs got embroiled in an attempt to allow Christians to make the statement that Jesus heals. These adverts were disallowed, and it is shameful that this happened. However, it seems to me that we the Christians (or at least most of us) are to blame. Let me explain: would there have been any grounds for even Jesus’ most hardened opponents to claim that Jesus could not heal? This link to Biblegateway gives an idea of the number of times “Jesus” and “heal” are mentioned, and yes, not all of the 59 results are actual healing references but some of them are multiple, and some of them like Matthew 12:15, show Jesus healing everyone in an area (0 failures, 0 rejections mentioned). So where does that leave us?
Part of the Covenant (if you did a search for Halo articles you’re in the wrong place), and incredibly common in the early church
Jesus has died to save us from our sins, and even to qualify as Christian it is rightly said we must accept that much! However, Isaiah 53:5 makes clear something more: that He was not only “pierced for our transgressions,” but also “by his wounds we are healed”. Jesus did not only lead to salvation but also healed bodies and drove out evil spirits. His concern was for the whole person: soul and body, mind and heart.
Warfare is unfair
We are at war with the spiritual enemies (Ephesians 6:11-12), and as they said in the Usual Suspects, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” After all, if we don’t know we have an enemy, exactly how effective will we be at fighting him? This is certainly a tactic of the devil against the church in the (vaguely-defined) West right now. And as a result we have not been doing too well against two of the devil’s unpleasant tools (among others): oppression by evil spirits and oppression by sicknesses. Paul’s thorn in the flesh (read “physical sickness”) is described as a “messenger of Satan” (see later in this post), and note that Jesus treats the two enemies the same: He “rebukes” the fever in Peter’s mother-in-law (Luke 4:39), as in “tells off” / “tells to go away” / “sends packing” (this is not something you do to an inanimate medical condition or incidentally to winds and waves: it is clear that there is a spiritual battle here against a spiritual enemy). To emphasise the point Jesus also used the same word “rebuke” to describe His fight against the unclean spirits in Mark 9:25 and in Luke 9:42. The two images depicted here are battles against different aspects of the same enemy, and he won’t fight fair. (If you’ve watched any terrible horror films, I think you’ll have no idea what to expect from an evil spirit. Possessed/oppressed people generally do not rotate their heads 360 degrees nor is it in any way that obvious (necessarily) that they are possessed- our enemy can be subtle. They may seem quite normal for lengthy periods, though periodically they may show some sign of trouble).
Not us, but Him
God does not want us to be ill! So why is healing not fully automatic? There are several instances of the sick staying sick (as listed in Shepherd’s Staff): e.g. 2 Timothy 4:20 (Trophimus), 1 Timothy 5:23 (Timothy), Paul himself, but these pale into comparison with the number healed. I think it makes things clear: we are not in charge, but God is. We do not decide the fate of every man, but He does. I think it is a barrier against human arrogance. I think Paul actually makes that clear when he describes his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7), and note the reason given: “to keep [Paul] from becoming conceited.” It is not you by your own power that can defeat the devil (the Sons of Sceva found that out) but the Spirit of Jesus (God!) within you. So give Him the glory for it when it happens! However, in the contest between God and the devil, there is only ever one winner, and His name is Jesus! Blessed be His name!
A conclusion on Healing
Don’t advertise it, except when you should. You can’t anyway if you’re in the UK! Jesus sometimes told people not to, e.g, Mark 1:40-45, (wouldn’t it be great to have Jesus’ problem – that too many people knew He could heal – in the church today? Imagine the announcement: “Will the entirety of the local DGH (hospital) please leave as we want to get on with some worship and prayer?” ) We do however have to balance this out with Mark 5:18-20, where Jesus tells the ex-demonic to go home (what a reunion!) and tell what has been done for him.
Do desire it, (pray for it, ask God for the gift- this is God’s command and it is included in the list of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, and incidentally note that here it states that God is in control of the giving of His gifts) then do it! He also is pointing out that some here will have a ministry of healing (i.e. that gift- incidentally I do not) though this does not exempt the rest of us from the fight! (Just as a gift of faith does not exempt the rest of us from having and practising faith).
No, it’s not the most important thing about being Christian, but it should be part of it!
For further encouragement see Shepherd’s Staff (an all round excellent book for topical Bible study with a hefty section on healing among other things) or listen to Curry Blake, or to see a testimony about healing related to him and having faith, visit this site.