August 21, 2016
As I am sure you noticed, all three of our Scripture readings for today deal with the subject of healing (Acts 3:1-12, 16; Luke 13:10-17; John 9:1-34). There is a wide range of current interpretation in regards to divine healing, ranging from the showy 'faith healers' that act out in front of a crowd, to those who think belief in miracles is just a fantasy for the desperate. But as with most Biblical subjects, the actual truth lies somewhere in the middle. This is why the Bible warns in both the Old and New Testament to neither add to God's Word, nor take away from it (Deuteronomy 4:2, Revelation 22:18-19). So first I would like to clear up some confusion on this subject, and then I want to delve just a bit deeper into some other truths in these passages.
First of all, the power to heal never comes from the individual. After Peter and John healed the crippled beggar and people came running to them, Peter said, "Men of Israel why are you surprised by this? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know has been made strong. It is in Jesus' name and the faith that comes through Him that has given him this complete healing in your presence." So do some Christians have more of an ability to heal than others? The Bible says in Mark 16 (17-18), "And these signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not harm them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be made well." Now we know some churches carry this verse to an extreme and pick up snakes just to prove their faith. They are turning God's promises into a spectator sport, with people eagerly watching to see who gets bitten and who doesn't. This is not what God had in mind by making such a promise. Neither does he want us to go around deliberately drinking poison. Satan tried to tempt Jesus to jump from the top of the temple just to prove God's Word, but Jesus rebuked him. The same goes here.
So back to my question... do some Christians have more of an ability to heal than others? The Holy Spirit can work through ANY Christian that truly has faith, and is not either trying to "prove God", or trying to promote him or herself. Both attitudes are counter-productive to being used by God, for healing or anything else. So you might be wondering how some of these faith healers that do not seem to be reflecting a humble spirit and are pocketing large sums of money for their 'gift of healing' are doing what they appear to be doing? Don't forget, there are other sources of power being tapped into, counterfeiting God's power, and making God appear to be nothing more than the ultimate snake oil dispenser. Let me remind you of what the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 11: 13-15 "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their actions." You just heard in our reading from Luke 13 that Jesus said Satan had kept the woman bound for 18 years, so while naturally God is more powerful than Satan and can heal anyone, if Satan causes the illness, Satan can also choose to discontinue the illness, if it serves his purpose to do so.
But again, back to my original question, yes, a TRUE Christian can be used by the Holy Spirit to bring spiritual, emotional, and physical healing to someone else, and we are called to do so; whether it be through prayer, through the laying on of hands, anointing with oil (James 5:14), or whatever other means the Lord instructs us to use.
Remember how Jesus used mud to heal the man in our last reading who was blind from birth (John 9:6)? So I ask you, since Jesus is the Son of God, and has the power to heal in an instant, why would he put mud on someone's eyes and ask them to go wash in order to be healed? First of all, I believe it is to show that God can work through natural means, and that those who shun using anything medicinal in hopes of God working a more dramatic miracle, are no better than the people who pick up snakes to try and showcase their faith to others. Secondly, I think there is a spiritual lesson here, how washing the dirt of the world from our eyes let's use truly see the light of God and his truth. Only when we, in faith, are willing to follow God's directives, and wash away the dirt that clings to us, can we understand His will and gain spiritual sight.
And I have one more point that I would like to make in reference to all of our Scripture readings about healing... Those who genuinely have the desire to heal others with correct motives, will always be met with resistance. The Pharisees used the Law of Moses to come against Jesus, because He had healed on the Sabbath. They had twisted the law so they could use it as a weapon to try and stop someone they viewed as a personal threat to their own power over the people. They valued their prestigious position in the religious community more than actually seeing people healed of their illnesses and their infirmities, being released from the clutches of despair, and receiving their sight. As the old saying goes, "no good deed goes unpunished"; but it isn't God that punishes the good deed - it is those who have a hateful spirit, a controlling spirit, and a spirit of superiority that will not bow to God nor acknowledge God working through another man or woman.
Jesus wants to see people healed. He wants them to muster up the faith to come to Him, to seek His will, and to follow His guidance. Only when we are willing to do that will we ever find true healing in body, soul, and spirit. So we as individuals, and all of us together as a church, need to pray for healing. We need to follow God's direction, and we need to trust him and have faith that He wants us to be healed. So I am going to stand on God's promises. If you will too, then please stand with me now as we sing Hymn #374 "Standing on the Promises". Amen.
If you fall down and skin your knee, or cut your finger, what does your mom do?
"She puts a band-aid on it"
But what does she do first?
"She washes the dirt off of it"
"Because otherwise it would get infected and it wouldn't heal."
Right! And then she puts on the band-aid. Just like Jesus washes away our sins first, and then we put on the armor of God to keep out any new sin, so we can heal spiritually.