From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Five, Day Two
Jesus, the greatest of all physicians, performed more healings than any other kind of miracle. Nothing stumped him — not blindness, craziness, lameness, deafness, or even death. Every ailment yielded to his undeniable power, and every healing served as evidence that his kingdom was breaking into our fallen world.
When you pray for healing for yourself or others, remember that God never sends sickness, though he sometimes allows us to become sick. Indeed, Scripture sees sickness and death as byproducts of sin. And it was to solve the sin problem that Jesus came into the world. When you pray for healing, remember that Jesus is always your ally, always wanting what is best for you and for those you care about.
The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Matthew 11:5
Jesus said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.' " Luke 4:23
Praying the Name
Some men brought to him a paralytic man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!"
Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, ‘Get up and walk'?" . . . So he said to the paralyzed man, "Get up, take your mat and go home." And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to human beings. Matthew 9:2 - 8
Reflect On: Matthew 9:2 - 8.
Praise God: For his healing power.
Offer Thanks: For whatever health God has blessed you with.
Ask God: To heal you, body, mind, and soul.
Imagine you are lying on a stretcher in the emergency room after having suffered a stroke. Though you cannot move, you are still aware of what's going on around you. Suddenly a doctor leans over you and, instead of injecting you with a clot-busting drug, takes hold of your hand, looks you in the eye, and says: "Cheer up! Your sins are forgiven."
Wouldn't it sound crazy, like a colossal non sequitur?
That's how the story of the healing of the paralytic struck me on first reading. What does the man's need for healing have to do with his need for forgiveness? We know that ignorance regarding what causes disease has resulted in millions of deaths over the course of human history. As recently as two hundred years ago, physicians treated their patients by bloodletting, vomiting, purging, and starving them. Benjamin Rush, a physician friend of John Adams and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, routinely prescribed bloodletting as a treatment for yellow fever. George Washington died after physicians drained several pints of blood from his body in hopes of curing a throat infection. No wonder the seventeenth-century French dramatist Molière once quipped that most people die not from illness but from remedies.
But Jesus was not dealing in ignorance when he began to heal the paralyzed man by reading his heart and declaring his sins forgiven. He knew that every human being suffers from what might be called a kind of spectrum disorder. Think of it like this: On the low end of the spectrum is the common cold, then come allergies, then something like arthritis, then maybe cancer, and finally, on the extreme end of the spectrum, is the most dreaded condition of all — death. Jesus already knew what science can never discover — that every one of our afflictions is ultimately rooted in sin. Sin breaks our connection with God, the source of all wholeness and healing, distorting and obstructing his plan for the world.
When Jesus told the paralyzed man his sins were forgiven, he was acting not like an ignorant physician but like a skilled doctor who was not content to treat the man's symptoms without dealing with their root cause. After that the impossible happened. The man picked up his mat and walked home, praising God!
Jesus, our great Physician, is still at work, forgiving our sins, healing our bodies, and restoring our souls. Take time today to align yourself with his healing work by repenting of your sins. Then pray for those in your family, your church, or your neighborhood who are ill. Ask God to deal with the deep cause of their suffering, whether rooted in their own sin or in the sinful nature of our fallen world. Ask him to bring them complete healing — body, mind, and soul.
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Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.