Scriptures for Healing: Jesus in Action
Jesus is a living demonstration of the unseen Father's will and desire. Jesus said that He always did what the Father wanted Him to do. That certainly includes the healings Jesus did. But how did He do them? As our Example we can try to imitate Him from the outside by "copying" the outward ways that He lived and ministered, or from the inside by seeking to adopt His same internal stance. Both ways are valid, however, the latter way yields extraordinary results!
All scripture citations are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. Acts 10:38
The Healing Ministry of Jesus
By observing from the outside, we can see in these passages how often Jesus healed people and how great was His power. But what we don't see is the inner mystery. Jesus, in coming to earth, left behind all the trappings of what it means to be God. To use Paul's phrase, He "emptied Himself" of things like omniscience (all knowing), omnipotence (all powerful) and omnipresence (being everywhere at once).[i] He became just like us! Otherwise, He could never have been our human representative at the cross.
How, then, did He do what He did? Jesus said He always looked to the Father for guidance about what to do.[ii] Additionally, He only began doing miracles after He was baptized by the Holy Spirit when the Spirit descended upon Him and remained.[iii] So, He was led step by step by God the Father and He was supernaturally empowered by the Holy Spirit, including the full operation of the nine power gifts that are available to us.
This means that He never acted in any way that we cannot act. Because we are born again by faith, we too can receive guidance from above. We too have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, enabling us to live in union with Jesus. Further, if we have been baptized by the Holy Spirit we also have the same empowerment that Jesus and the apostles enjoyed. This inner mystery of Jesus, transferred to us, makes our new life in Christ both possible and glorious!
To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27
The Centurion's Servant
The key to this passage is the unquestioning faith the centurion had in the authority Jesus possessed: "Only say the word." This shows us the role our faith has -- at times -- in the healing process. It also shows us the kind of faith Jesus is looking for. Even a little doubt can spoil a whole lot of faith. The centurion brought faith with nothing doubting to the table and Jesus' response was immediate and positive. Sadly, Jesus could easily marvel of the Church today that, like Israel before us, we often don't have this same caliber of faith. Fortunately, faith is not the only element in the mix, but we need to note how decisive a role it plays when present and work with our faith to grow it.[iv]
When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 'Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.' And he said to him, 'I will come and heal him.' But the centurion replied, 'Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it.' When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, 'Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith… And to the centurion Jesus said, 'Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.' And the servant was healed at that very moment. Matthew 8:5-10, 13
The Sending of the Twelve
Jesus spent some of His valuable time training His disciples how to heal people and cast out spirits. Don't you expect that He still is doing this? Indeed, He is training all of us who are willing. Remember that His last words on the mount in Matthew were that He now has (thanks to His death and resurrection) "all" authority.[v] This authority is just as available to those who are "in Christ" now as then. Note also that there is a connection between evil spirits and disease. No doubt evil spirits can cause mental illness, but according to scripture, they are also the culprits behind certain diseases. Many of us have learned to take authority over the dark kingdom when we pray for healing, for example: "Satan, I bind you and your works in Jesus Name and spirit of infirmity or of (name the disease) you must go now in Jesus Name."
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction… These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, 'Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Matthew 10:1, 5-9
The Sending of the Seventy-two
The Lord evidently didn't limit Himself to the hand-picked and personally-trained twelve. He sent out seventy-two "others" to join in the fight. The moral? It is easy to be a recruit in this army: Just be available! In fact, He specifically commanded all of us to pray for the Lord of harvest to send out many more laborers, so great is desire to see His work advanced. Do not mistake this as a harvest of converts only. The seventy-two came back bursting with joy to see that demons had been subjected to their commands. Demonic deliverance and healing go hand in hand in the gospels. In fact, as the gospel advanced through the Mediterranean Basin, those two supernatural signs went first and converts followed. In our day this is called "power evangelism" and it still works powerfully for advancing the kingdom.
We should also note how Jesus shapes their faith. Not content to simply let them have their joyful victory their way, He corrected them that the real key is not that demons were subjected to them, but that they had been rightly submitted to the Father (with "names written in heaven") due to their willingness to trust and obey His instructions. He goes on to extoll the simple faith of "little children" which found a home in the hearts of these disciples. Such humility and purity of heart helped them move in the authority He gave them with such power that Satan fell "like lightning" from his seat of power. Want to turn the tables on the Enemy? Just become like a little child![vi] It's what Jesus wants for all of us.
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest… The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!" And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. Luke 10:1-2, 17-21
Healing on the Sabbath
This is one of several instances where Jesus appeared to break His own rules. All of Israel knew that no work was supposed to be done on the Sabbath. Jesus knew there were legitimate exceptions. Healing is evidently one of them. This is important for us to know, because at times the way healings happen (and don't happen) seem to break all the rules. Who is a good candidate for healing, when is a good time, what is a good method are "rules" we may have lodged in our head without thinking about it. That is, until they get dis-lodged by healing happening in a radically unexpected way. Don't box Jesus in! Trouble is, we may be doing just that out of religious habit like the ones who opposed Jesus in this passage. It's best to expect to be surprised and "Let the Lord be the Lord."
He went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, 'Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?' - so that they might accuse him. He said to them, 'Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.' Then he said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. Matthew 12:9-13
Healing Peter's Mother-in-Law
In these parallel passages we see Jesus healing Peter's mother-in-law. This was a woman with a servant heart. We know this because just as soon as she was healed she "rose and began to serve them." Jesus certainly didn't heal her so He could be served ("He came not to be served, but to serve"), but perhaps He healed her so that she could be released into her gift. Remember, there are no hard and fast rules here. Nevertheless, there are certain conditions which seem to attract the grace of God. One is our willingness to live for God and others, not sheer selfish desires. For instance, there was a wealthy man who fill his barns and decided to live only for his own pleasure. That night "his soul was required of him."[vii]
And when Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: 'He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.' Matthew 8:14-17
Another interesting point is the way that the healing of this one woman spread like wildfire through the community. That very evening the house became filled with people wanting prayer. The whole city beat a path to her door! Let God use you to spread the word when someone you have been praying for is healed. Prepare to take advantage of the possibilities of harvest that even one simple healing can uncork. Often the faith released by a healing testimony will enhance the faith of others and they too will be in a much better position to receive.
And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. Mark 1:29-34
Healing the Paralytic
Jesus intentionally confounded and complicated this moment. By His own admission, all He needed to do was say, "Rise, pick up your bed and go home." Everyone would have been happy. But no. He brought theology into the equation by tying this healing to the forgiveness of sins. Does that mean all sickness is the result of a person's sin? No, but it might be. There was another situation where it wasn't caused by sin.[viii] Nevertheless, in this case it was. We would be wise to always seek the Holy Spirit if a sickness stubbornly clings to a person. The curse cannot come to anyone without a cause.[ix] That cause just may be their own sin, known or unknown. Unforgiveness is a sin which many don't see as sin. Yet, it is one of the great mischief makers blocking prayer and blocking the grace of God for healing.[x] Always check for that one!
And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.' And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, 'This man is blaspheming.' But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, 'Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins' - he then said to the paralytic - 'Rise, pick up your bed and go home.' And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. Matthew 9:1-8
This parallel passage makes it clear that Jesus was using the healing moment as a vehicle for driving an unwanted point into the minds of some of the people present. He was pressing them to confront their own unbelief in who He was and who was giving Him authority. Miraculous healings and demonic deliverance stir up a lot of controversy. You would think that everyone would be thrilled that someone just got free. The Lord knows better. He sees our hearts with a jeweler's eye and knows which flaws are ripe for exposure. Be ready for this. Know in advance that not everyone will pat you on the back, if God does something dramatic for someone through you. Still, the sight of people walking away in freedom is worth the hazing.
And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'My son, your sins are forgiven.' Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 'Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?' And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, 'Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins' - he said to the paralytic - 'I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.' And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, 'We never saw anything like this!' Mark 2:1-12
Healing a Mute Man
Once again, Jesus gets slammed for doing the work of God. Sure, some people thought He hung the moon ("Never was anything like this seen in Israel"). Others howled that He was serving Satan ("He casts out demons by the prince of demons"). If you are seeking healing and/or seeking to serve the Lord, you need to know that contradicting messages will dog your steps. Make up your mind in advance, as Jesus apparently did, that you are only going to listen to messages that come from God. Develop your discernment about the voice of the Lord and the content of His messages by studying what He has already been expressing to us through the scriptures. In the end, these are the only words that matter.
Speaking of words, this passage shows us Jesus healing a man who cannot speak up for himself. Think what that means. He can't describe his condition, or give his history with it, or say how he feels about it, or indicate his level of faith or spiritual understanding. We get used to having these sorts of questions asked and answered. they are helpful, but they aren't always necessary. At other times we even see Jesus asking questions like these, so there is nothing wrong with asking them. They can help raise our faith and compassion, depending on what we hear. Still, it's a good rule to know that God knows and that's all that matters. Sometimes, too many words can put a damper on the moment. It's best sometimes to strike when hot, especially if you sense a leading of the Spirit warming your heart.
As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, 'Never was anything like this seen in Israel.' But the Pharisees said, 'He casts out demons by the prince of demons.' And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. Matthew 9:32-35
Healing All Manner of Sickness
We have a tendency to think that the situation we're facing is a hard one -- that it will be hard for God to overturn this disease or rescue this life. Some things certainly seem to take time. Jesus even says some things only come about with fasting and prayer. These are probably concessions to our lack of faith and spiritual understanding. Not to His. Indeed, we see Jesus in this passage healing every "hard" kind of condition you could name. Except for one: hardness of heart, the hardness that springs from unbelief. So, let us ever be on watch against the thought that something we are dealing with is too hard for the One who does all things well, the One for whom nothing is impossible.[xi] "I believe, help me overcome my unbelief," is a good Biblical prayer whenever something looks too hard for faith to carry.[xii]
Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel. Matthew 15:29-31
Healing an Epileptic Boy
Jesus doesn't show what we would call frustration very often. Here, His first rebuke ("O faithless and twisted generation") is directed toward the disciples who couldn't accomplish this healing, not the father who brought the boy to them. The second rebuke is to the demon. Never is the father rebuked. He came in simple faith and loving concern. We can always approach the Lord with confidence on that basis. The disciples, however, are subject to strong correction. Remember, that these same fellows like to argue about who's going to be top dog in the kingdom. Pride goes before a fall, and often gets spanked on the way down. When the (humbled) disciples approached Jesus later, He was gracious in His reply, but still pinned the problem on their "little faith."
And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, said, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him." And Jesus answered, "O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me." And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" He said to them, "Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:14-20
A parallel passage in Mark adds further details to this event. We are shown that the boy suddenly got worse when He was brought to Jesus and later after ministry, even appeared to be dead! Be ready for this. It doesn't always happen (thank God), but sometimes people get worse at first, rather than better. Try not to let that throw you. If it happened to Jesus, it just might happen to you. In any event, the Lord stayed calm and focused, asking questions to understand the situation better (see note on Healing the Mute Man above). Only moments before, He dealt with the disciple's lack of faith. Now, it is the father's turn who handles the challenge beautifully with those immortal words: "I believe; help my unbelief!" That one phrase, uttered in humility and desperation, has rescued untold millions of us, by showing the better way to go.
Next, we note the concern of Jesus to take care of the deliverance before the boy could be made too much of a public spectacle ("when He saw that a crowd came running..."). Try to preserve the dignity and privacy of individuals you are ministering to. This can't always be achieved but needs to be as important to us as it was for Jesus. Finally, in private conversation Jesus tells the disciples what they should do to grow their faith: Pray! Well, we don't get better at any activity without a lot of practice. However, this translation leaves out what the King James includes: Fasting. Without a doubt fasting strengthens the arm of prayer. Let the Holy Spirit show you when and how.
And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." And Jesus said to him, "'If you can'! All things are possible for one who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, "He is dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" And he said to them, "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer." Mark 9:20-29
Healing Demon Possessed Men
There are so many startling things about this passage. A whole herd of pigs is driven wild by the demons infesting one man. True, he too had been driven wild by them, but was in some way managing to live with them inside. For the pigs that was not an option -- they preferred death by drowning. This shows us our capacity for infestation by the kingdom of darkness and our amazing ability to cling to life. Jesus with very few words and in mere moments of time, cast out all the demons and restored the men/man to their right mind. Wouldn't it be great if we could empty our insane asylums the same way? On the other hand, what Jesus did terrified, or offended, the townspeople so much they "begged" Him to leave. How crazy is that? They seemed to prefer the previous situation to the present one -- the uncomfortable but known to the unknown. The people we minister to may be strange, but so may be the ones around them. People usually don't get messed up all by themselves. Beware of the broken social environment, not just the broken candidate for ministry.
And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, 'What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?' Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, 'If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.' And he said to them, 'Go.' So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. Matthew 8:28-34
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, 'What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.' For he was saying to him, 'Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!' And Jesus asked him, 'What is your name?' He replied, 'My name is Legion, for we are many.' And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, 'Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.' So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the pigs, and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea. Mark 5:1-13
Healing Multitudes at Gennersaret
This passage in Matthew follows the demoniacs' deliverance by six chapters. Perhaps, that gave the city folk sufficient time to adjust. Previously, they begged Jesus and His disciples to leave. Now, when they recognized Him, they brought "all who were sick." The lesson here may be to never give up on the people in any region, in any group. Even if groups or individuals reject the Lord and His works at first, they may still come around. Further, it seems that their expectancy level was so high that touching the fringe of His garment was all the people need do to activate their faith for healing. Keep in mind that the "magic" is not in the garment, but in the power of faith to draw in the healing power of God. Perhaps, by leaving the healed demoniac behind (against his wishes), Jesus sowed a living, exuberant witness into the community, which bore fruit with this healing revival.
And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent around to all that region and brought to him all who were sick and implored him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well. Matthew 14:34-36
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well. Mark 6:53-56
Healing Blind Men
At first glance these three different episodes could all pass for the same event, remembered slightly differently. Or, the Holy Spirit just might be showing us that Jesus did a whole lot of healing and that sometimes those healings had many elements in common. And why not? At a church service in Brazil in 2006, the healing evangelist called for all the deaf people to be brought to the front. In a small church of under 100, six people were led forward. All of them received full hearing back that night! I think I was shocked more by the number of deaf people in so small a group than by the healings themselves which followed similar patterns. When commentators make a fuss over "difficulties" or "discrepancies" in texts like these, it's a fair suspicion that they have little practical experience with the supernatural working of God. No matter what the climate of unbelief around you may be, no matter what the "wise" may say in their skepticism, if you want to see God move, then move the doubts to the side.
These blind men certainly carried no scruples about how they would be seen by others. They couldn't see the disparaging looks that may have been in the eyes of some as they created a holy ruckus. They literally turned a blind eye to any doubters that may have been present and kept their faith focus on Jesus. What they exhibit is something that prayer warriors of the past called "importunity" in prayer. Webster defines it as "troublesomely urgent: overly persistent in request or demand." They were bordering on making a nuisance of themselves! Such Persevering Prayer is one of the five main ways of praying for healing. The others are Petitioning Prayer, Rebuking Prayer, Commanding Prayer and Submitting Prayer. See Prayers for Healing to learn about all five and then add to your arsenal any that may be lacking or under developed.
And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, 'Have mercy on us, Son of David.' When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, 'Do you believe that I am able to do this?' They said to him, 'Yes, Lord.' Then he touched their eyes, saying, 'According to your faith be it done to you.' And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, 'See that no one knows about it.' But they went away and spread his fame through all that district. Matthew 9:27-31
And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, 'Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!' The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, 'Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!' And stopping, Jesus called them and said, 'What do you want me to do for you?' They said to him, 'Lord, let our eyes be opened.' And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him. Matthew 20:29-34
And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!' And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, 'Son of David, have mercy on me!' And Jesus stopped and said, 'Call him.' And they called the blind man, saying to him, 'Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.' And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, 'What do you want me to do for you?' And the blind man said to him, 'Rabbi, let me recover my sight.' And Jesus said to him, 'Go your way; your faith has made you well.' And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10:46-52
Healing of Jairus' Daughter
The Lord will work with us to grow and liberate our faith. That's the encouraging message of this healing journey. Right at the beginning we see Jairus with faith for the healing and the two set out, along with much of the town in tow. On the way -- it is a genuine journey towards the hoped-for healing -- the procession is interrupted by a woman with an issue of blood. She takes up precious time, possibly drains Jesus' healing power ("virtue had gone out of Him"), and renders Him ritually unclean by her "illegal" maneuver. How would you feel about those unwanted delays? Anxious? The father's worst fears strike home when someone arrives to say it's too late, "Your daughter is dead." How his heart must have plummeted! Seeing this, Jesus immediately steadies and strengthens him: "Do not fear, only believe."
When they arrive at the house, Jesus reassures the father again that his daughter is only "sleeping" -- a reassurance the father receives but others reject. Those unbelieving servants are themselves rejected and ejected. Seeing, however, that the man's faith has been sufficiently strengthened, Jesus brings him into the room for a first-hand view of the miracle that loving father longed to see. Know that this same wonderful Lord will be working with you to strengthen your faith as well, even if He also lets your faith be challenged by unexpected twists and turns, delays and set-backs. Hang in there with Him!
And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, 'My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.' And he went with him… While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, 'Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?' But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, 'Do not fear, only believe.' And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, 'Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.' And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, 'Talitha cumi,' which means, 'Little girl, I say to you, arise.' And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. Mark 5:21-24, 35-43
Healing a Woman with a Discharge of Blood
The message here is faith and patience. Rick Joyner of MorningStar says that you could fill a stadium with messages about prosperity but call it "Faith and Patience" and no one will come. Yet, it is through faith and patience that we inherit the promises of God.[xiii] This woman certainly did. Wait a minute you might quibble. How was she being patient? The word for patience in scripture is also often translated as perseverance or endurance, or long-suffering. Get the picture? Perseverance is what we call it when our usual level of patience is really being put to the test. This woman persevered in faith for many years, hoping and believing that God, who gives us doctors, would one day heal her through them.[xiv] Then, she heard about Jesus and decided to make an end run around the medical profession. She brought hope and faith to the table that twelve years of daily disappointment had not defeated but intensified.
She also had to press past two obstacles. One was the Lord's seeming indifference. Jesus was on the way to heal Jairus' daughter. He was going right past. Sometimes it feels like that, doesn't it? That God isn't interested in us, or that He is somehow passing us by without a care for our concern. Press in anyway. Seek to touch His heart of compassion. And don't let other obstacles get in the way. This woman's issue of blood was a major obstacle. Under the Old Covenant it rendered her unclean, excluding her from even being out in public. Yet, she pressed past that barrier, too. By the way she came forth in "fear and trembling" when Jesus called her out, it's clear that she understood the risk she had taken. By touching Jesus she made Him ritually unclean, too. How would He handle that? Never fear how the Lord will "handle" you. He loves you and loves seeing you scrambling past obstacles to get to Him.
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, 'If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.' And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, 'Who touched my garments?' And his disciples said to him, 'You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, 'Who touched me?'' And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.' Mark 5:24-34
Healing the Blind Man at Bethsaida
Now, doesn't Jesus surprise you by the strange ways He goes about healing people? Why not just "touch" the man as He was asked to do? Why not pray for everyone right where they are? Why lead this one out of town? Why not just lay hands on everyone and make the same prayer? Why spit on His eyes?!? All this should caution us that God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit will be working with us in unpredictable ways if we are willing and able to listen to Their step by step guidance. There are even celebrated cases in church history where a man was healed of cancer by being punched in the stomach and a baby was drop-kicked into total health.[xv] Please don't try it yourself! These examples are only mentioned to prove the point that the Lord is still leading people in ways that absolutely break the mold.
Another point of tremendous importance is that even Jesus didn't always see healing happen immediately. Everybody's first thought is that if God is going to act it will be dramatic and immediate. Thank God for this story. Here the fellow acknowledges that some healing has taken place, but it is far from complete. So, Jesus prayed a second time. Then, the full victory came. This is immense encouragement for those of us who pray for healing. It really takes the pressure off to know that you can keep praying and that sometimes the healing will come slowly, non-dramatically, and progressively. You not only can keep praying, you can stop the process and ask how they are coming along, then get right back to it. In fact, if even a little movement in the direction of healing can be honestly reported, that becomes a huge faith-builder both for the one receiving prayer and the one giving it. Enhanced faith always releases more spiritual power. Since it worked for Jesus, let it work for you!
And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, 'Do you see anything?' And he looked up and said, 'I see men, but they look like trees, walking.' Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, 'Do not even enter the village.' Mark 8:22-26
Healing a Man with Hearing and Speech Problems
This healing is very similar to the preceding one, except that here the person has speech and hearing problems, and the other was blind. Again, we see Jesus doing something wildly unconventional. There is nothing in the literature about putting fingers in the ears and spitting, then touching the tongue. What's more, if someone tried to do that to us, we would recoil in shocked disbelief that anyone could be so gross. Nowadays, our customary protocol is to request permission just to lay one's hand on someone's shoulder. Can you imagine the scene if the minister said, "May I have permission to put my spit on your tongue?" It may be that Jesus would never lead us to do something so offensive to health and privacy concerns. But He may. Once thing is certain: If you want to see healing and deliverance happen for yourself or for others, be prepared to step outside your comfort zone. Way outside at times. The saying is: "If you've got no guts, God gets no glory." (Ok, I just made that one up.)
Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, 'Ephphatha,' that is, 'Be opened.' And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, 'He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.' Mark 7:31-37
Only a Few Healings in Nazareth
We close this review of Jesus' healing ministry with the woeful recognition that even Jesus could not fully overcome the climate of unbelief in His hometown. He only managed to heal "a few sick people." Most of us would settle for that. Nevertheless, for Someone of the caliber of Jesus this is a genuine and unexpected setback. It shows us the key role that a faith community can play in advancing or inhibiting what God desires to do. Perhaps, inhibiting is putting it too mildly. It may not be within our power to start a true revival, for that is a sovereign work of God, but it is certainly within our power to shut it down.
Things like unbelief, a critical spirit, division, etc. quench the Holy Spirit.[xvi] They can easily crush the living daylights out of the sweet, tender buds of childlike faith and expectancy. There were times when Jesus and the apostles put skeptics out of the room when they got ready to pray for healing.[xvii] We can certainly do that, but what do you do about a faith community with a climate of unbelief about it? You can't put them all out! And if the need for healing is immediate (as it usually is), then fasting and praying for transformation of the local church isn't a practical option. The answer is to seek the Lord where He can be found.[xviii] Jesus may not be moving in your church for healing. Get prayer there anyway. Who knows what God might do? But hedge your bet by going to churches, or ministry events, or conferences where the Lord is raising people up for supernaturally gifted ministry.
He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, 'Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?' And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.' And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. Mark 6:1-6
Next Healing Essential
Scriptures of the Disciples in Action The disciples are the close circle of Jesus' hand-picked followers that He was training to believe what He believed and to do the works that He did which included the "children's bread" -- healing and deliverance. The Holy Spirit recorded occasions which demonstrate both their success and their failure while they were still "babes in Christ." This is certainly intended to be an encouragement to us: We too are disciples, hand-picked by Jesus and we too experience failure along with success. May we learn from both.
Interested in Going Deeper?
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