“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”
One of the most beautiful passages of scripture is recorded in Luke 4:18 where Christ publicly read in the synagogue on the sabbath day from the prophet Isaiah and stated the purpose of His call and ministry. The paramount, overriding theme and ministry of Christ was the spiritual healing of the soul. Through no merit of our own, He freely bestowed the grace of healing on the souls of mankind and brought reconciliation between man and God through His atoning blood. The captive was set free from sin, the spiritually blind received illumination, and those in despair were given hope through salvation of the soul.
Isaiah Prophesies of Christ
This wonderful healing of the spirit by Christ was also prophesied in Isaiah 53:4-5: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities…. and with his stripes we are healed.” Contextually and interpretively, the healing by His stripes refers to the provision that Christ made for the spiritual healing and redemption of the soul from the power of sin. In addition, the scripture states that Jesus bore our griefs. The word “griefs” is more properly translated “sickness, disease, anxiety, affliction.” Jesus fulfilled this and other prophesies which foretold of His miraculous physical healings where the eyes of the blind would be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped (Isaiah 35:4-6).
Christ Healed the Sick
It is nearly impossible to separate Christ’s ministry of spiritual healing on earth from His ministry of physical healing, for they were integrally tied together. Jesus told the disciples of John the Baptist to go and tell him how “the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up” (Matthew 11:4-5). Matthew 8:16-17 very directly confirms that Christ’s physical healings were fulfilling the prophecies. “[He] healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” Jesus healed all manner of sickness and disease (Matthew 4:23-24) and healed all that “were oppressed of the devil” (Acts 10:38). Jesus was shown to be approved and sent from God by the miracles, wonders, and signs which He did before the people (Acts 2:22).
The Disciples Healed
Jesus also gave His disciples power “to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease” (Matthew 10:1). The seventy that were sent out to preach the gospel were instructed to “heal the sick” (Luke 10:9). Acts 5:12 reads, “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people.” The Word of God was confirmed by the signs that followed the apostles of the early morning church (Mark 16:17-20).
The Gift of Healing
The gift of healing is a divine gift also given by the Holy Spirit to the church (1 Corinthians 12:4-9). It is one of the diverse gifts that God can give for the profit of the gospel as He sees fit. The gift of healing by the laying on of hands is not given to all saints. I Corinthians 12:29-30 asks: “Are all apostles? Are all prophets?…. are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing?” The answer to these questions is clearly “no.” Not all have the same gifts, but the Spirit of God bestows the gifts that are right for the individual and body of believers at the proper time in a given generation.
While historically there seem to be greater manifestations of instantaneous physical healing in time of reformation, the awesome power of the Messiah is undiminished in this generation. He is still savior of the soul and healer of the body and mind. Jesus reigns supreme and is still able to heal all manner of sickness and disease. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth…. I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:18-20).
There is wonderful grace bestowed upon God’s children in times of sickness and suffering. While saints are not exempt from sickness and disease, there is provision for the healing of the body through Christ. Divine healing is not a natural occurrence or something that comes from man’s ability. It is the divine intervention of God changing the natural and working the impossible. Looking to Jesus for the healing of the body and emotions is a privilege of God’s children and is one of the benefits of serving the Lord. God has proven Himself as a healer of His children in this present age.
Instructions for the Sick
The Bible gives instruction for the sick in James 5:14-16. “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
The sick are instructed, of their own volition and faith, to call for the elders of the church. The elders are to follow the example of the disciples (Mark 6:12-13) and anoint the sick with oil. The power is not in the oil itself but in obedience to God’s Word. The elders are to follow the precedent set by Christ and the apostles and lay hands on the sick and pray (Mark 16:18, Acts 28:8-9). There is an imparting of blessing and strength through the laying on of hands that God honors in His holy servants.
The Requirement of Faith
Sometimes people are healed through the faith of others and sometimes through their own faith. What is important and necessary is that faith and trust is in God. Jesus Himself, while in Nazareth, did not perform many miracles because of the people’s unbelief (Matthew 13:58). While faith in God as a grain of mustard seed can move mountains, it is also noteworthy that miracle-working faith only comes by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:20-21). Though there are times God chooses not to heal, faith need not waiver, for the object of faith is Christ Himself, not the outcome of our prayer.
The Privilege of Trust
True healing comes from God “who healeth all thy diseases” (Psalm 103:3). The scripture teaches us to build our faith and to trust in God for all things that affect our lives. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). The sick and suffering, in faith, are to seek after God with expectation. In the Old Testament, God was displeased with Asa, who was diseased in his feet, because he turned to the physicians and did not seek after the Lord (2 Chronicles 16:12). Coming to God should not be a last resort, but we should come to Him as a Father who desires to give good gifts to His children. For many, the doctrine of divine healing has become a cross hard to bear. It was never intended to be a burden but rather a privilege to place ourselves completely in the hands of a loving God. There is great peace in uncertain times when trust is fully placed in the Saviour.
Come with Assurance
On earth, Jesus ministered to the broken hearted and to the emotional and physical sicknesses of mankind. He did so because He was “moved with compassion” (Matthew 14:14). Christ Jesus is today “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15-16). Every person who sits in emotional darkness or physical pain can come with assurance to the throne of grace and find strength and help. It is a wonderful benefit and privilege to trust in the Messiah as our spiritual, physical, and emotional physician.