Light of the World
"Jesus went throughout Galilee . . . healing every disease and sickness among the people. . . . and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them" (Matthew 4:23, 24).
A well known physician who was beloved for his cheerfulness was asked one day as he entered a sick room, how he could live in the midst of so much suffering and illness and still keep smiling. His answer was a classic: "I always look upon disease from a curative standpoint." This wise physician had learned that there is no really hopeless disease when the case is committed to the Great Healer and every useful remedy is employed.
Had not Jesus looked upon disease from a curative standpoint, He could not have accomplished so many miracles of healing. The New Testament records many actual healings performed by Christ, such as the restoration of sight to blind Bartimaeus (see Mark 10:46-52) and the healing of the lepers (see Luke 17:11-19).
Christ, the Great Healer, restored the sick, cleansed the lepers, cast out devils, and raised the dead. He came "to destroy the devil's work" (1 John 3:8) and to conquer sin, disease, suffering, pain, and death. Looking in faith to His divine Father, the Great Physician overcame all of Satan's opposition and became a channel of life and health to a sick and dying world.
Keep in mind throughout this booklet that the real objects of Christ's miracles of healing were "the alleviation of human suffering, or the illustration of sacred truths, or . . . the increase of innocent joy" (Dean Farrar, Life of Christ, pages 89, 90).
As we open the pages of the four Gospels and read the accounts of the specific cures performed by the Savior, we are amazed at the exhibition of His grace and love. As you read these records of Jesus' healing miracles, remember that they were actual cures wrought through the power of God.
OF THE NOBLEMAN'S SON
" 'Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,' Jesus told him, 'you will never believe.' The royal official said, 'Sir, come down before my child dies.' Jesus replied, 'You may go. Your son will live' " (John 4:48-50).
On his way home, the officer was met by his servants who said that his son was alive. Then the father asked at what hour he began to get well, and when they told him, he knew that it was the same hour in which Jesus had said, "Your son will live."
God does not always show "signs and wonders" before we believe, yet He is willing to give us reasonable evidence upon which to exercise faith. If we act upon that evidence, God may see fit to perform a miracle of healing in response to our faith. But we must accept His terms and not insist upon our own. God knows what is best. Remember, the first law of healing is that we exercise a submissive faith in God. We should never insist on "signs and wonders" as a condition for belief in God.
There is a nominal faith that does little good, and there is a saving faith that delivers the soul and brings healing to the body. The woman who was healed of an issue of blood had a genuine faith (see Mark 5:25-34).
"There are two kinds of believing: first, a believing about God which means that I believe that what is said of God is true. This faith is rather a form of knowledge than a faith. There is, secondly, a believing in God which means that I put my trust in him, give myself up to thinking that I can have dealings with him, and believe without any doubt that he will be and do to me according to the things said of him. Such faith which throws itself upon God, whether in life or in death, alone makes a Christian man. (Best Modern Illustrations, page 144).
OF THE CRIPPLE AT BETHESDA
"When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, 'Do you want to get well?' 'Sir,' the invalid replied, 'I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me' " (John 5:6, 7).
The Great Healer recognized that here was a case that needed immediate help. Challenging his faith in God, Jesus said:
" 'Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.' At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked" (John 5:8, 9).
Jesus did not question this poor cripple to see if he had faith. He simply said, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." The man believed Him, and his faith was made perfect by obedience. Then the life-giving power of God surged through every bone and muscle. Setting his will to obey God's command, he stood up.
The faith of the Bethesda cripple is the kind of faith that God wants us to exercise when we seek spiritual healing. Christ gives us assurance of forgiveness of sins and that we can have peace. We are to accept this pardon without doubting. If we believe God's Word, we are forgiven. Then we must put our will on Christ's side and determine to follow Him wherever He may lead. This is the way to receive spiritual strength to be a Christian.
When Jesus later met the restored cripple in the temple, He gave him this word of caution:
"Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you" (John 5:14).
These words of warning remind us that "sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death" (James 1:15). A recurrence of disease often follows a return to sinful habits, and this may lead to premature death. It may also result in the loss of one's soul. This is a word of caution for all of us to heed.
THE MANIAC OF CAPERNAUM
"What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you arethe Holy One of God!" (Mark 1:24).
This may have been Christ's first encounter with a maniac, but He was destined to meet other such persons and cast out the devils that possessed them (see Mark 5:1-20; Matthew 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-40).
" 'Be quiet!' said Jesus sternly. 'Come out of him!' The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek" (Mark 1:25, 26).
The people were amazed at Jesus' faith and power, and they asked each other:
" 'What is this? A new teachingand with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.' News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee" (Mark 1:27, 28).
CHRIST HEAL ALL DISEASES?
"A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.' Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!' Immediately he was cured of his leprosy" (Matthew 8:2, 3).
Notice, Jesus "immediately" cleansed the leper. He did not delay one minute, as He did on some other occasions when the sick came to Him for healing. Imagine the scene as this unfortunate man, afflicted with this loathsome disease, approached Jesus. Required by law to announce his disease wherever he went, he shouted the words, "Unclean! Unclean!" But now see the change after Christ had healed him. The muscles are rounded out, the skin has taken on the soft pink glow of healthy youth, the eyes sparkle, and his appearance is that of a normal, healthy man. There is a spring in his step and a note of praise on his lips as he walks away singing of the mercy and love of his divine Deliverer.
The cleansing of the leper illustrates God's work of grace in cleansing the soul from sin. It is His will that we be "immediately" cleansed from sin. When we pray, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10), the Lord does not delay the answer to that prayer. Like the pleading leper who sought cleansing from the pure, life-giving Savior, we too may find cleansing from the leprosy of sin by casting ourselves upon His soul-healing mercies.
OF THE PARALYTIC MAN
Christ knew that this man needed peace with God more than he needed relief from his paralysis, but the religious authorities who were present complained, "Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (Mark 2:7). Jesus knew their thoughts, so He asked:
"Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and walk'?" (Mark 2:9).
The religious leaders did not answer this question, but Jesus proceeded to show that He had power both to forgive sins and to heal the sick.
" 'But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .' He said to the paralytic, 'I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, 'We have never seen anything like this!' " (Mark 2:10-12).
If this man had been relieved only of his load of sin, it would have been a great miracle, for the sense of guilt was crushing out his life forces. Christ knew this, so before He cured him of his paralysis, He cured him of his sin. Thus the man received spiritual as well as physical restoration.
An eminent psychiatrist recently declared that he has never seen a case of severe despondence and mental depression cured "until the patient acquired a religious outlook on life." Guilt and sin must be removed from the life if the sick are to recover. Christ is the divine specialist in all branches of the healing art. He is able to heal mind, soul and body.
HELPS THE BLIND, THE DEAF, AND THE DUMB
" 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life' " (John 9:2, 3).
After anointing the man's eyes with moist clay, Jesus instructed him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. This he did, and when he had washed, he "came home seeing" (John 9:7).
The Jews believed that sin is punished in this life by such afflictions as blindness and deafness, and by other handicaps and diseases. But here was a man who, Jesus said, had not sinned in such a way as to bring disease upon himself. Neither had the sins of his parents caused his trouble. Why, then, was he suffering? The answer is that good people may suffer from sicknesses over which they have no control. Job did not violate the laws of health and bring on his painful affliction of boils. But he suffered nonetheless. Paul likewise suffered from "a thorn in the flesh" of which God did not see fit to heal him. Yet in his affliction and weakness, he found God's strength, and in his trouble learned dependence upon Him (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
Jesus healed this innocent blind man "that the work of God might be displayed in his life" (John (9:3). He also healed sick people who had brought disease upon themselves. The Great Physician relieved the sufferings of all who came to Him.
The Gospels also record Jesus' compassion and mercy toward the deaf and the dumb.
"While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, 'Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel' " (Matthew 9:32, 33; see also Mark 7:32-35, 37).
There was no disease, no trouble, no handicap, no affliction for which Christ did not have a remedy. Let this be a source of comfort and encouragement to all today who are burdened with guilt, trouble, or sickness. Jesus is the answer to all our woes and distresses. Then trust him with your problems, and "cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7).
CROWNING MIRACLE OF ALL
Christ might have prevented the death of Lazarus, as the people said:
"Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" (John 11:37).
But Jesus permitted a temporary sorrow in order to bring a more lasting joy. He waited until four days after the death of Lazarus. Then He went to the tomb where Lazarus lay and requested that the stone be rolled away.
"Then Jesus looked up and said, 'Father, I thank you that you have heard me. . . .' When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!' The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, 'Take off the grave clothes and let him go' " (John 11:41-44).
In imagination, we can see Lazarus casting himself in adoration at Jesus' feet while friends and relatives gathered around speechless with amazement, tears of joy trickling down their flushed cheeks. Oh, what a glorious scene of thanksgiving and rejoicing! Overcome with gratitude and emotion, Mary and Martha joined Lazarus at the feet of Jesus. Brokenly, they expressed their thanks to the Great Healer. Then quietly Jesus disappeared from the scene, leaving His friends to enjoy the blessings of His life-giving power.
Yes, Christ is the fountain of life and healing for all mankind. While Lazarus was still in the grave, Jesus had said to Martha:
"Your brother will rise again. . . . I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies" (John 11:23-25).
Because He lives, we will also livenot only in time, but also in eternity. Those who profess and possess Christ have the gift of everlasting life (see 1 John 5:11, 12). And even if death should cut life short, it will be restored on the resurrection morning. The death and resurrection of Lazarus represent what God will do for all His followers who pass through the tomb. That brief silence will be followed by an awakening to life (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
CHRIST HEAL THE SICK TODAY?
1. The sick should confess their sins to God and their faults to one another. "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16). All wrongs should be made right, so far as possible. After this is done, let all sins against God be confessed specifically.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
2. The sick should lay aside all unhealthful practices. They must, as the prophet said, "Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!" (Isaiah 1:16, 17). Unhealthful practices, such as the use of tobacco and alcohol, should be discarded. If the home is unclean, let it be tidied up. If there is impurity in the life, it should be confessed and forsaken. So far as one understands, he should eat and drink and do all things to the glory of God (see 1 Corinthians 10:31). Then the sick should trust in the Lord and be cheerful. Anxiety weakens the nervous system and encourages disease. Those who trust in God's mercy will find relief from all depression and gloom, and the prospect of their recovery will be brighter.
3. The sick must have faith when they pray (see Hebrews 11:6). But we do not always know what we should pray for. We cannot command God to heal all the sick. There are some who, if healed, would return to their sinful habits and thus be a reproach to the name of Christ. Others would glorify Him, so their recovery would bring honor to Christ. Only God knows the end from the beginning. Therefore, when we pray for the sick, we must say, "yet not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42).
When healing follows prayer for the sick, let us thank God. When it does not, we should not blame God or the one who prays for the sick. God does not always see fit to give us what we ask for, but He does answer our prayers and bless the sick by forgiving their sins and giving them strength to endure. Remember, God knows best.
Paul asked the Lord three times that he might be healed of his affliction, but God did not grant his request. Yet Paul was the instrument in God's hand to heal many sick and afflicted ones. Some will fall asleep in Jesus, as John the Revelator said:
" 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' 'Yes," says the Spirit, 'they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them' " (Revelation 14:13).
When we pray for healing, we should follow the instruction of James. Read carefully James 5:14-16. God sometimes permits us to suffer in order to work out His purpose of mercy for us. But God is not the author of our afflictions. Satan is the chief adversary of mankind and the principal instigator of disease and suffering. He is the destroyer; God is the restorer. Never forget that, and trust your case fully to your heavenly Father.
manuscript author: Beatrice S. Neall