Jesus our Healer

Jesus Our Healer

Jesus is our healer. The healing here that is being spoken of in this paper is physical and mental healing. The ministry of Jesus in the gospels is packed with healings on page after page. I believe that He took great joy in relieving people of their sicknesses and infirmities.

Yet, Jesus was not just a healer then, but is still our healer today. While we thank the Lord that in our time
there have been tremendous advances in medicine, blessing believers and non-believers alike, there is still only one superior physician who can cure disease simply by His healing power.

Sickness was not a natural part of mankind’s original makeup, but is rather a consequence of the fall. While not all sickness may be attributed to a personal sin committed by the person suffering from a disease or infirmity, all sickness finds its root in the sin of Adam. When Adam fell, not only was death the consequence, but every impurity, sickness, and disease was unleashed on the human race.

Romans 8:18-23

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present timeare not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creationwas subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know thatthe whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who havethe first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons,the redemption of our bodies.

When Christ died on the cross, His work did not just secure salvation from the penalty of sin, but also healing for the believer’s body. In Isaiah 53:4&5 it says the following: “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.”

The apostle Matthew, in his gospel (8:17), refers to this passage in Isaiah when explaining the healing ministry of Jesus in the New Testament: “This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” Christ bearing our diseases is the same act of His substitution in the place of sinners (He became sin, etc.).

Yet, the question must be asked: What does it mean that by the work of the cross Jesus secured physical healing for all who believe? Does this mean that He grants physical healing to all believers who ask? No. I believe that it means three things. First, it means that all believers are someday guaranteed a perfect, completely healed physical body when they are glorified in the resurrection (I Corinthians 15:35-49 & Revelation 21:4). Secondly, it means that foretastes (healings) of this glorified state are available to all believers in all generations until the Lord’s return. Thirdly, the natural and fitting prayer of any believer when faced with some type of ailment is “Jesus, please heal me.” Our Lord delights to hear his children cry out to Him in faith (Proverbs 15:29b “He hears the prayer of the righteous.”), when they are confronted with sickness and disease. The compassion that Jesus had for those who were sick during His earthly ministry, He still has today (Luke 7:13 “And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep’.”).

Are there any differences between requests for physical healing and salvation? Yes. While the Bible promises instant salvation for anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13), Scripture never promises that all those who ask for healing will immediately get what they ask for. Scripture is clear that healing will come for all believers eventually and encourages all to ask for healing in this current life, there are no guarantees for physical healing on this side of glorification.

Yet, while there are no promises of healing for every request, there are hindrances that the Bible speaks of as being obstacles to people receiving healing.

1) Little to no faith-

While healing comes only by the power of Christ, He usually uses the means of faith to effect healing in our bodies. There were and are times when Jesus healed people with little or no faith at all proving that faith is not what heals (John 5:1-17). Yet, He often withheld healing from those in the Gospels because of their lack of faith. In Mark we see a perfect example of this where the Scripture states that He could not do any mighty miracles because of their lack of faith. Mark 6:5&6 says: “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.” However, it was not that Jesus literally had no power and could not heal; rather the idea is that He often refrains from healing when there is no faith. In these cases it is not that He could not heal, but that He would not! There can be no doubt that when the church closes the door to healing, they can expect to receive that which they believe for; very little.

2) Sin-

Just as sin can block intimacy of fellowship with the Lord, so it can block the reception of healing or even the maintenance of a healthy body. In I Corinthians 11 the Scripture is clear that there were members of the church of Corinth who were sickly and some had even died because of sin in their life. I have observed at different times how people who seem to know the Lord, yet refuse to give up sinful patterns in their lives often succumb to frequent, besetting sickness. In these cases the remedy is to confess the sin and forsake it.

3) The Enemy-

While Satan no longer has dominion over a believer, at times he is allowed by the Lord to bring sickness to believers in order to sharpen a believer’s dependence upon the Lord, keep him humble, and refine his character. Job is a prime example of this occurring in his life. His faith was tested, yet refined as Satan threw one fiery dart at him after another. While we cannot be one hundred percent certain that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a physical ailment (It is the opinion of the writer of this paper that it was.), we do know that this hindrance was caused by the devil (2 Corinthians 12). It is interesting to note that in both cases, these men were giants of the faith; pristine examples of Godliness. Yet, neither one of them was too mighty to not be harassed by the enemy within the sovereign providence of God.

Are these the only possibilities for why someone is not healed? Often questions still remain for the one who
is living a faithful Christian life, yet prayers for healing result in no physical change. There are many cases
where the Lord uses on-going sickness for His glory. The lack of healing is not always the result of lack of faith, sinful patterns, or even the devil; sometimes in the kind providence of God, He allows the sickness to remain for long periods and even sometimes uses it to take believer’s home to be with Him, for the purpose of glorifying Himself. In a world that instantly gets angry at God when a person or their loved one gets sick, it is a beautiful breath of fresh air when a sick believer rejoices in their Lord and trusts in His goodness even when the results continue to come back negative. Our Lord is kind and good even when He does not grant healing. He has not lost control of the situation when a believer gets sick. His interest is to bring as much glory to Himself as possible, while at the same time satisfying the sick believer’s soul with peace, joy, and love. He often uses this kind of situation to amaze a self saturated world, while at the same time increasing the believer’s faith and sanctification. It is interesting that Trophimus was not healed of an ailment even though he had the apostle Paul as a personal friend: II Timothy 4:20 “Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus.” God was using Trophimus’ illness for His own purposes!

It is interesting that there have been many Christians who have missed out on the blessing of healing for the three reasons listed above, yet at the same time there have been many Christians who have been wounded because someone immediately assumed that their lack of healing was because of the three reasons listed above. The church must delicately balance between the lifelessness of believing that healing is not for today and the wounds of false promises and misguided assumptions on the other.

It is also important to note what faith is not. Faith is not being whipped up into an emotional frenzy or making confident verbal assertions, when on the inside one is not so confident. I remember a time in Bible school where at a local church in Waxahachie, Texas a lady who had a terminal disease had been prayed for many times by the congregation for healing. During this time of prayer, people talked about visions and dreams that they had received promising that she would be healed. There were times when this lady was brought forward for prayer, as people within the church confidently asserted that she was going to be physically healed. However, she died. Immediately the conversation turned to her healing was meant to be a “spiritual one”. I believe wholeheartedly that the church was right to pray for healing. However, I believe that just maybe some of these people who had prayed for her healing did not want to look as though they were “spiritually unbelieving” and went too far in their claims. When Jesus did not heal because of unbelief, it was not because people were not bold enough in their claims, loud enough in their prayers, or because of the lack of a frenzied atmosphere, it was simply because they did not believe in Him!

The people that Jesus responded to were those who simply reached out to Him, with a heart longing to be healed. This is all that was needed then and all that is needed today; hearts that long to be healed and belief that He can do it! The answer is up to Him. No amount of added theatrics will sway His granting of the request. I believe that most believers who are asking the Lord for healing have faith in Him; they are a far cry from those unbelievers in the New Testament who wanted nothing to do with Jesus.

John Wimber who died in the late 1990’s was a man who God used greatly in the gift of healing. One of the things that I find so attractive about the way God used him, was the absence of theatrics, frenzied services, and glamour that is often associated with televangelists. He just seemed like a regular guy that believed healing was for today. He seemed like a man who really loved people and felt compassion for their needs. On an infinitely greater scale, this is how I picture Jesus; a man who loved people and simply responded to simple faith.

Not only does God use people’s faith as a channel through which He gives healing, but He also uses some believers in the gifts of healing. When the Scripture mentions this gift (I Corinthians 12), in the Greek it means the gifts (plural) of healing (plural). This seems to mean that one person who receives this gift will be able to be used by the Lord to heal certain ailments, while another person will be used to heal other diseases. The Holy Spirit is still bestowing the gifts of healing today in the church.

I remember almost ten years ago I met a couple who could not have children. Crystal and I had them over to our house to discuss various things. One of the things we did that evening was to pray for them that they might have children. Last time I checked, today they have at least two children. The Lord has laid it on my heart then and now to pray for couples like this. This could be an example of being used in a gift of healing for a specific need.

I believe that often (not always) God gives a sense of His healing presence. One must be very careful not to go too far in making claims (as with my story earlier), yet when one senses the power of God to heal they must be bold in asking the Lord to bring healing to that person.

As a child my mother gave me a book that lit a fire under me concerning the miraculous entitled “Like a Mighty Wind” by Mel Tari. I still get excited when I think about how the Lord used this book to generate an authentic excitement to see Him work in great demonstrations of power! O’ how we desperately need to see over and over again that the Lord our healer is the same yesterday, today, and foreve (Hebrews 13:8)!

What is a believer to do if they get sick? The Bible gives clear instructions in the book of James, chapter five. James instructs the sick one to call for the elders of the church. While it is good for a pastor to be on his toes, aware of any sickness within his congregation, it is the believer’s responsibility, if they get sick, to call for the elders of the church to come and pray for them. When the elders come, they are to pray in faith for the sick one, anointing them with oil.

It will be the regular experience of church elders to go to a home and see the sick healed. Recently, while I was at district conference, my six year old son, who has had a history of hospital visits due to respiratory problems, was beginning to become ill and was struggling more and more in his breathing. The night I found out, I asked superintendant Spriggs son, whom I was staying with, to pray for him. The next morning, during our service, I asked superintendant Spriggs to also pray for him. Immediately after the service, John Spriggs came up to me and told me that my wife had left a voicemail on his phone in which she told me to not worry about Ethan; his fever had gone down and his breathing had returned to normal. There is no doubt that this was an answer to the prayers of faith on my son’s behalf!

Sometimes, the question is raised concerning whether Christians should use doctors, medicine, surgery, etc., for sickness and infirmities. We have heard cases where Christians refused medical help and ended up dying. Is this the Lord’s plan, to ignore all medical help? I don’t think so. The Scripture recognizes the legitimacy and need for medical doctors. Colossians 4:14 says: “Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.” Matthew (9:12) quotes Jesus in the following: “But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Even though Jesus is speaking to the issue of spiritual healing, He supports the legitimacy of doctors by referring to them in this verse. As a result of Timothy’s reoccurring ailments, Paul instructed him in I Timothy 5:23 to, “(No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.).” When a believer gets sick they can both trust God as their ultimate and miraculous healer, while at the same time pursue medical attention. This is not a lack of faith, but is a refusal to “put God to the test.”

Yet, on the other hand, believers sometimes see Jesus as a secondary source to turn to, rather than the primary source. Both reactions are un-balanced. Even when someone turns to the medical community for help, their heart should be turned to the Lord asking Him to do a healing work in their body. There are times when God will grant miraculous healing and other times when doctors are used with their skill to bring about a cure. Yet regardless of the case, the Lord may receive the glory. In II Kings 20 we see an example of the Lord answering a prayer for healing while at the same time medicine was used to help bring it about:

1 In those daysHezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, "Thus says the LORD,'Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.'" 2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, saying, 3 "Now, O LORD, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight."And Hezekiah wept bitterly. 4 And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: 5 "Turn back, and say to Hezekiahthe leader of my people, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father:I have heard your prayer;I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD, 6 and I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria,and I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake." 7 And Isaiah said, "Bring a cake of figs. And let them take and lay it on the boil, that he may recover."

Lastly, while God avails healing to believers of every generation, He sometimes heals those who are not believers in order to display His power and bring them to faith. Therefore, a believer must not just assume that God’s healing presence is just going to be for believers only.

There are many cases when healing will be used a sign to validate the word that is being spoken (Mark 16:17—*Even though maybe not a part of the original manuscripts; this principle is supported throughout the New Testament). While faith in miracles does not bring salvation, often times God will use a miraculous healing to arrest someone’s attention so that they may then listen intently to the Gospel that does bring
about salvation. Where our church is located in Northeastern Pennsylvania there is great spiritual darkness. One of the things that we are praying for is that God would do extraordinary things to arrest the attention of the unbelievers that they might truly pay attention to the preached Word. One of the things that I find interesting about the Reformation, that is given very little attention, is the supernatural things that were taking place in the midst of spiritually dark Europe during that time period that were being used by God to break through barriers and pierce the darkness. My prayer is that this takes place again as the Lord uses demonstrations of power to awaken those who are numb to the Spirit’s power and trapped in dead religion.

We do not need more televangelists or charlatans, we need men and woman of God who are full of the Spirit, saturated in Scripture, and walking in power. There have been times during the church when the Spirit is moving in intensified power (this includes healing). My prayer is that during our day we see an intensification of His mighty work.