Healing and the new era initiated by Jesus
There are many more healings happening across our nation at this time, and I am sure there are more to come. Hope church Glasgow saw 50 healings of varying kinds in the 15 months up to December 2010, and it continues.
For many people it raises as many questions as it answers. The classic ‘why isn’t everyone healed?’, and alongside that ‘is it ever God’s will that I am sick?’ and ‘what is the origin of sickness and disease?’ challenge us.
I have some fresh thoughts (at least to me) on the subject.
When we read through Old and New Testaments it can be confusing if we are looking for a consistent perspective on healing. On the one hand we have scriptures that declare ‘I am the Lord your healer’ (Exodus 15;26). Against that we have verses like Exodus 4;11 which says that it’s God who makes people blind deaf or mute. We see in the Old Testament a slightly confusing picture of God the healer and God the afflicter.
The Old Testament is actually confusing on many things. So when Jesus comes the bulk of the religious scholars didn’t get that he was the promised Messiah. There remained into the Acts period much confusion about the nature of the kingdom of God. If you grew up in early 1st century Israel, it is likely that you saw it purely in geographic, political and military terms. Israel’s history is full of God raising deliverers that kill her enemies and restore her borders. Jesus comes with no political or military agenda, proclaiming the Kingdom has come and that he is its king!
His teaching is also confusing to anyone who held the Old Testament as the inspired word of God, to be adhered to at all costs. In the Sermon on the Mount there are 6 instances where he says ‘you have heard it said’ and then he quotes an Old Testament verse, followed by ‘but I tell you’. And the ‘I tell you’ often majorly revises the OT scripture; for instance: Matt 5;43-44
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy. 'But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
That is not even close! The OT is full of the legitimate killing of God’s ‘enemies’ now we are supposed to love them and pray for them. This is a seismic shift and Jesus has the authority to make it.
So Jesus presents a view of God’s will and ways that are present in the OT, but not abundantly clear. He clearly models a God whose mercy triumphs over his own judgement. Hebrews tells us that he is the exact representation of God (Heb 1;3). That God previously spoke through prophets, and established a covenant through Angels. Now he sends his son to speak, demonstrate and establish a new covenant. This covenant is superior to the old one and is founded on better promises (Heb 8;6)
Jesus redefines the way God relates to man, how believers are supposed to behave, what the kingdom is, and he demonstrates a God whose kindness leads to repentance.
In this context he clarifies and establishes a new standard on healing as well. The one who only does what he sees the father doing, heals everyone who asks for it and many who don’t; whole villages are healed, the dead are raised. His answer to the question ‘If you are willing make me clean’ was a resounding ‘yes’ (Matt 8;1-4).
Jesus comes with the declared intention to give sight to the blind, and to release the bound (Luke 4;18). He is not the God who makes people blind (Ex 4;11) but the one who makes them see! This is at the same level as moving the goal posts regarding what to do to you enemies. We used to kill them now we pray for them. We used to accept that some were created blind by God, now they are legitimate ‘targets’ for the Son of God and his disciples to make see!
I would like to suggest that in the New Testament era, of which we are part, it’s God’s will to heal you. This fulfils the prophetic expectation of Isaiah 53;4-6 (see ESV and NASB margin) and David’s experience of Ps 103;3. Jesus has brought clarity to the mixed messages of the Old Testament; he has adjusted some of its theology and principle to better represent the nature of God. I would suggest his statements and practice should set the lens we peer through to gain understanding on healing. His practice and expectations are to be ours.