Aug 12 2012
In Luke 2:52 we read that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
Its an interesting throw-away comment by Luke which comes at the end of the account of Jesus remaining behind at the Temple as a boy, and the announcement of John the Baptist that he has come to prepare the way of the Lord.
It is actually all we know about the life of Jesus from age 13 to 30; but it does tell us that Jesus had grown to full manhood in these years in four main areas:
He grew mentally (in wisdom),
He grew physically (in stature),
He grew spiritually (in favour with God), and
He grew socially (in favour with men).
In other places the Bible speaks of our tripartite nature: body, soul and spirit – our body (physical self), our spirit (the image of God in us) and our soul (our emotional nature). In a way our soul is a combination of our mental nature and our social connections.
The important point though is that we are compound creatures; one being with many parts. And when we talk about healing we must recognise that it is a healing of the whole person, in all parts.
Our physical well-being does has an impact on other parts of our nature: a headache can make me feel down emotionally, and far away from God, spiritually.
Similarly, an upsetting incident with a friend can cause me to have a headache, and strain my relationship with God as well.
Delving around in the occult, or even sin generally, can impact on a person physically and emotionally.
Adam’s sin, at the beginning of time, the so-called original sin, has dogged mankind throughout history and has led to every other sin, because of spiritual separation from God.
When Jesus died on the Cross, it was to redeem us from the sin (singular) of the world – our Lord dealt with the very source of our separation from God. His atoning death re-established our relationship with God, as it was in the beginning, and enables us to come, of our own, by faith, to seek forgiveness for our sins.
Christ does not have to be crucified over and over for every sin, no, He dealt with the origin, the source. But until, we accept this atoning sacrifice, by faith, sin will continue to have hold of us (I feel like I am paraphrasing from the Book of Romans – go read Romans 6-8).
Until we do this continued stranglehold of sin will impact upon us physically, mentally, emotionally and socially in varying degrees.
This is not a popular idea in these “enlightened” times where we want to blame everything under the sun, except our sin, for our dis-ease, but I believe that this is what the Bible teaches and what God wants us to know.
The word for healing in the NT is the same word used for salvation. Jesus came to save the world, and He came to heal the world. Same thing. He came to redeem mankind and to reestablish our relationship with Him.
His ministry was not just to go to the Cross, but to teach about the Kingdom of God (as you heard this morning), to heal the sick, to cast out the demons and to set the captives free.
Thus, when we pray for healing, we are not only praying for physical healing – indeed, this might the least important thing we need to pray for, even if it seems to be the most obvious.
And if physical healing does not come, it is not really all that important, as long as the other more important aspects of our lives are healed – our relationship with God, and our relationship with others.
Now its not always that easy to say all of these things to someone who asks for prayer for physical healing, and most often it is quite inappropriate to speak about sin at that point.
My experience has been that most times when people come for healing prayer, it has been best to pray aloud with all grace for the specific thing they have asked for; but, to speak with God also about other things which He might reveal by words of Knowledge or Wisdom and to pray about these things in private.
There is a difference between praying for a believer, and one who has yet to come to faith. The believer will accept the admonition from the Lord for sin. They are usually aware of it themselves but have buried it under heaps of denial. In those instances, the prophetic voice needs to speak clearly in order to remove the debris and rubbish.
The one who has yet to come to faith is usually different. Most times they will treat a challenge to their sinfulness as unjust, judgmental and interference in their personal life. The first step here is to encourage them to enter into a relationship with God; very often this will be sparked by a miraculous response to prayer.
You may have wondered why non-believers, or new Christians, get such amazing answers to prayer … this is the answer, it is God drawing them into relationship with Him.
You might think that this is so unfair but realise this, the greatest healing of all is a restored relationship with God; the next best is a healing of relationships with other people (Love the Lord your God; love your neighbour) and last comes physical healing. In the end, we don’t take our physical bodies with us to heaven. They grow old and weary and when they “give up the ghost”, our spirit goes to be with God.
That does not mean that we don’t need to pray for physical healing – of course we must. When we pray for healing we are ministering the whole of God’s redemptive love to the whole of the person’s being.
Let’s discuss some Biblical healings:
First David, after being confronted by Nathan about his adultery with Bathsheba.
What did he pray?
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
It might seem incredibly cruel, but the son born as a result of David’s transgression got sick. David prayed for the boy’s life, observed days of prayer and fasting, but still the boy died. The servants were afraid to tell David when he died because they thought he might do something desperate. Instead he got up, bathed and put on clean clothes and went to the Temple to worship God.
When questioned about it, David said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
And then he asked for a pure heart and a steadfast spirit and the restoration of the joy of his salvation (healing, remember).
Who was healed? What was healed?
In Mark 2, we read how four men brought their paralysed friend to Jesus and lowered him through the roof.
Jesus said to him, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Everyone got pretty upset about that.
Eventually Jesus asked, “Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?”
What do you think?
Jesus then goes on to say, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”
The implication is that it is easier to deal with the physical than with the spiritual. We need to keep this in mind, and we must remember that the ultimate healing is not physical healing but the healing of the separation from God.
In John 5 we have the healing of the man at the Pool of Bethesda. The man is an invalid and he has been there for 38 years. Jesus asks him if he really wants to be well.
The man says that he needs some help, so Jesus says, “Pick up your mat and walk.”
And that’s what happens.
A little later, Jesus find the man in the Temple and he says to him, “See, you are well again. Now stop sinning.”
In response to those who then accuse Jesus of healing on the Sabbath, He says, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”
In each case sin is an issue … I could have used many other examples too. Physical healing was given, but it also involved dealing with the sin, facing up to it and repenting of it.
And this confrontation with the sin in our life is really about acknowledging the holiness and sovereignty of God, and choosing the walk away from the things which separate us from God and to, instead, walk with Him.
When that happens we cross over from death to life.
And that is the ultimate healing.