We are returning to the subject of healing for a couple of reasons at least. A very personal one is because my older brother Danny’s brain cancer is proving to be stubborn, and I do not believe God wants us to roll over and die and just accept the doctor’s prognosis as God’s will. A second reason is because the ministry of healing, whether carried out by Jesus or His disciples in the New Testament is a significant part of the impact of their ministries. It was not a random, ever great so often occurrence.
Now for you and I to perceive the full impact of what the Holy Spirit wants us to see in terms of the ministry of healing in the New Testament, we have to back up a bit and make sure we are seeing Jesus as we were meant to see Him.
What I mean by that is one of the reasons so many of us do not see healing in Jesus’s ministry as we should is because we do not see Him as we should. Many believers erroneously believe that the reason Jesus healed people is because He was God and because He wanted to prove He was God, or He wanted to authenticate His claims to deity. Some actually teach that this was His main reason for healing the sick.
Now Jesus Christ was and is fully God. Always has been. Always will be. But He is also fully man “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus”. I Timothy 2:5. And it is absolutely critical for us to understand that when Jesus lived and ministered on this earth for 33 years, He operated not as God, but as man dependent upon God. This is seen in many ways in scripture and understanding this is critical for us to see the ministry of healing the way we were meant to see it.
I never clearly saw this until we served as missionaries in Hong Kong. And one of the passages God used to open my eyes was Peter’s words to Cornelius and gang in Acts chapter 10 vs. 38, which reads, “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” Please note he did not say at the end of this verse – for He was God. First Peter points to the fact that Jesus lived a known human life, raised in Nazareth in a real human known family. Then Peter speaks to the fact that Jesus had to be anointed by God the Father with the Holy Spirit and with power. If He was operating as God why would that have been necessary? Jesus’s secret while on earth for all that He accomplished was not that He was God, but that “God was with Him.”
Last Wednesday night in our home group meeting we were discussing Luke 4 and the fact that besides Jesus being conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35), He was then Baptized by the Holy Spirit as seen in 3:22. He was also “led by the Holy Spirit” into the wilderness being “full of the Holy Spirit” to fast and pray for 40 days and to be tempted by the Devil as seen in 4:1. Then in 4:14 Luke says “He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit”… In vs. 18 Jesus quoting Isaiah 61, says of Himself, “The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me.” And then He explains why, “Because He Anointed Me To Preach The Gospel To The Poor.” Why all of this emphasis on Jesus’s relationship with the Holy Spirit? It makes little sense unless He is fully man fully dependent upon God the Holy Spirit to be able to fulfill His ministry.
Perhaps the clearest theological explanation of this is seen in Philippians 2:5-8, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Jesus while on earth was fully God and fully man. He chose though to not draw upon His attributes of deity. He chose to deny Himself the right to avail Himself of His divine wisdom, omnipotence, omniscience, etc., only instead depending wholly on the Holy Spirit for all that He needed to live and to fulfill His ministry.
So you might be asking at this point – so what?
Well here’s the what: When I read about or study the life and ministry of Christ in the four gospels, and I chalk everything He knew, said and did up to His being God, then while I can praise Him for His power and goodness, etc., His life has no real relevance to my life. Why even think about trying to model my life after His if I am a born sinner constantly struggling with the world, the flesh and the devil, and He is God incarnate? Little bit of a mismatch there wouldn’t you say?
But then why did the apostle John command us to live and minister just as Jesus did? “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” I John 2:6. If Jesus operated as God, daily drawing upon His attributes of deity, what hope do I have of walking in the same manner as He did? But if He knew what He knew, said what He said, and did what He did, not because He was God, but because He on the earth was fully man fully dependent upon the Holy Spirit, just as I am commanded to be, then His life and ministry has great relevance to me.
Until I saw this midway through my time in Hong Kong, I read the gospels of course when I read through the Bible each year, but they were more history to me. They were historical accounts that proved that Jesus was God. But when God opened my eyes - every word and every nuance became absolutely relevant for my life and ministry because Jesus the Man showed me how to live and minister as He did.
Did you know that of all the accounts of Jesus healing people in the four gospels only two of them actually seemed to have the purpose of authenticating Christ’s deity? One of those was Jesus’s raising Lazarus from the dead (see John 11:1-44). The other was Jesus’s healing of the man with palsy (see Matt. 9:2-8; Mark 2:3-12; Luke 5:17-26). All the rest of them were because of Jesus’s compassion; and/or the leading of the Holy Spirit; or because the person(s) asked to be healed; or someone asked Jesus to heal their friend or family member, etc.
Why else would the apostle Paul command the church at Corinth to, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (I Cor. 11:1) if he didn’t believe that the written accounts of Christ’s life and ministry on earth were given for us to closely follow?
Jesus especially in the gospel of John often spoke of His absolute dependence upon the Father. For instance in John 5:19,20 He explained, “…Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (See also John 5:16,17, 5:30, 6:38, 8:28,29 & John 14:10,11).
J. Oswald Sanders, one of the greatest Christian leaders and missionary statesmen of the 20th Century put it this way, “Like ourselves, Jesus was not self-sustained, but needed prayer and communion with His Father for the support of His spiritual life. In all the great cries of His life, He resorted not to the counsel of men, but to prayer to His Father for guidance. He was subject to human limitations of power. He obtained the power for His divine works not by drawing on His inherent deity, but by depending on the anointing Spirit.”
In unbroken relationship and dependence upon the Father and the Holy Spirit Jesus Christ in approximately three and half years healed thousands and thousands of people. We are told about some of them in the four gospels. In fact of the 1,257 narrative verses in the four gospels, 484 verses or 38.5% are devoted to Jesus’s healing ministry. But we know from John’s comment in John 20:30 (“Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book”) and in John 21:25 (“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written”) many more were probably healed than are accounted for herein.
So my prayer as we dive into the gospels in our next post is that we can all see what we need to see to be more useable in His hands to heal the sick when out of relationship with Him He leads us to do so.
Please do continue to pray for my brother – both for his full and complete healing from brain cancer and for the healing of his hearing, which has been bad for a while, but has been worsened by the cancer. I kind of knew from the beginning that this was going to be a bit of a drawn out fight and not an immediate slam dunk healing. In fights like this, standing on His promises is absolutely crucial so I leave you with these:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:12-14