Healing During Christ's Ministry
During Christ's ministry, he healed hundreds, or perhaps thousands of people of various disabilities and illnesses. Some individuals asked him to heal them, some were healed when other people asked him to heal on their behalf, and some were healed without asking, when Jesus saw their condition and had compassion on them.
The following review of some of the accounts of Christ healing individuals and his authorization of the twelve disciples and the seventy other men to heal is important to understanding the various aspects of healing individuals during this gospel age of salvation. These accounts give insight into Christ's approach to healing individuals and provide examples for those who are called in how to fulfill their ministry to the elect and heal people as they proclaim the Sovereign Father's good news message.
All Illnesses and Disabilities Healed
As Jesus traveled about teaching the true meaning of the scriptures and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God, he healed people of all kinds of illnesses and disabilities, none of which were beyond his authority and ability to heal. See Matt:8:16; 9:35; 12:9-16; 14:14.
"And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people" (Matt.4:23 KJV).
The English words sickness and disease in verse 23 are translated from the Greek words nosos and malakia respectfully. Nosos can mean a malady (rarely figuratively, of moral disability). Malakia means softness, i.e., enervation and is derived from malakos, which means soft, i.e., fine (clothing); figuratively a catamite. The ancient usage of the word catamite indicated a pubescent boy who was the intimate companion of a young man in ancient Rome, usually in a pederastic friendship.
The Greek words nosos and malakia in the phrase "sickness and all manner of disease" seem to indicate that Christ's authority and power to heal all sickness including the healing of mental conditions manifested by immoral behavior, such as a perverse sexual orientation.
"And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought to him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them" (Matt.4:24 KJV).
In verse 24, the English words diseases and torments are translated from the Greek words nosos, which can mean a malady (rarely figuratively, of moral disability) and basanos, which means a touchstone, i.e., (by analogy) torture. The Greek words nosos and basanos together indicate an illness that is extremely painful.
In verse 24, the English words lunatick and palsy are translated from the Greek words seleniazomai, which means to be moon-struck, i.e., crazy and paralutikos, which basically means paralytic.
Verse 24 also tells us that Jesus released people from the control of evil spirits and the mental and physical problems caused by such control.
Evil spirits are often the cause of mental or physical illness and often torment people they possess. See Mk.5:1-8; 9:17-27; Lk.13:10-16. Clearly, not all insanity is the effect of demonic possession, but is the result of many other natural causes, such as birth defects, physical injury, chemical imbalance, traumatic emotional experience, and more. Regardless of the cause, Jesus had the authority and ability to cure all forms of mental disorders.
The Withered Hand
Mark and Luke record that a man with a withered hand was in a crowd of people listening to Jesus, and when Jesus asked him to extend his hand it was instantly healed:
"And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand" (Mk.3:1 KJV).
The English word withered is translated from the Greek word xeraino, which by implication means to shrivel. Xeraino is derived from the word xeros, which means to desiccate.
This individual did not have use of his hand because the muscles were atrophied and shriveled making his hand useless.
"And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the Sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he said to the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he said to them, Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he said to the man, Stretch forth your hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other" (Mk.3:2-5 KJV). See also Lk.6:6-11.
This account gives no indication that the man believed Jesus could heal him, but he did as Jesus asked and extended his hand. This account also reveals that Jesus did not touch the man or say anything else to him in order to effect the healing. Jesus' intent was to heal the man's hand in order to show that it was lawful to do good works on the Sabbath, so Jesus healed him even though he didn't ask for healing.
At the Pool of Bethesda
After one of the feasts of the Jews, Jesus went to Jerusalem where he healed a man who had an ailment which left him so weak that he had trouble walking. In this account, Jesus was at the pool of Bethesda where there were many people who needed healing. Jesus could have healed any of them, but he chose one individual in order to teach a lesson about doing good on the Sabbath and the result of violating God's law:
"After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. And a certain
man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he said to him, Will you be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steps down before me" (Jn.5:1-3; 5-7 KJV).
Jesus did not ask the man if he wanted him to heal him; he simply asked if he wanted to be made whole:
"Jesus said to him, Rise, take up your bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the Sabbath" (Jn.5:8-9 KJV).
In order to effect the healing, it was not necessary for Jesus to say or do anything other than tell the man to get up and walk. As soon as Jesus told the man to get up and walk, the man felt a change in his body and knew that he was healed, so he got up, took his bed, and walked away.
"The Jews therefore said to him that was cured, It is the Sabbath day: it is not lawful for you to carry your bed. He answered, He that made me whole, the same said to me, Take up your bed, and walk. Then they asked him, What man said to you, Take up your bed, and walk? And he that was healed did not know who it was: for Jesus quietly slipped away, a multitude being in that place" (Jn.5:10-13 KJV Para.).
The spiritual leaders of the Jews had perverted God's law with their own restrictive rules and traditions. One of these rules concerned how much effort a person could expend on the Sabbath without violating the Sabbath. Therefore, they accused the man of violating the Sabbath and wanted to know who told him to work on the Sabbath.
"Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, Behold, you are made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come to you. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole" (Jn.5:14-15 KJV).
The English word sin in verse 14 is translated from the Greek word hamartano, which means to miss the mark (and to not share in the prize), i.e., (figuratively) to err, especially (morally) to sin.
Whatever this man had done to cause or increase his disability, it was a violation of God's law; therefore, Jesus warned him to not repeat this behavior so that he would not find himself in a worse condition than before he was healed. This tells us that some disabilities and illnesses are caused or made worse by a person's violation of some aspect of God's law.
Blind Man At Bethsaida
Mark records the following account of Jesus healing a blind man at Bethsaida. Many assume that, when Jesus attempted to restore this man's sight, he failed in his first attempt and had to lay hands on him a second time in order to totally restore his eyesight. But, is this what happened or is there a more logical explanation of this account?
"And he came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to him, and implored him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands on him, he asked him what he could see. And he looked up, and said, I see people as trees, walking. After that he again put his hands on his eyes, and he looked: and he was restored, and saw everyone clearly" (Mk.8:22-25 KJV Para.).
The English word blind throughout the New Testament is translated from the Greek word tuphlos, which means opaque (as if smoky). Although tuphos can mean a total loss of sight, it can also mean a partial loss of sight, as well as an allegorical, intellectual, moral, or spiritual blindness. Knowing that the Greek word tuphos has many meanings helps in determining why Jesus did what he did.
Although there could be other explanations as to why Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes twice. It makes no sense that Jesus had to try a second time to heal the man's eyesight. What makes more sense is that Jesus stood in front of the man, spit on his eyes, rubbed them to unstick the eyelids, and asked him what he saw to determine the degree of blindness. Moreover, Jesus had absolute faith in his authority and power to heal all manner of physical disabilities and illnesses. Additionally, he had healed many blind individuals before this man was brought to him.
The following is an account of a paralytic man being healed, in which the violation of God's law was a contributing factor to the man's disability.
"And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him" (Lk.5:18 KJV).
The English word palsy is translated from the Greek word paraluo, which means to loosen beside, i.e., relax (perfect passive participle, paralyzed or enfeebled). This man's disability made him weak and prevented him from walking.
"And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said to him, Man, your sins are forgiven you" (Lk.5:19-20 KJV).
These individuals knew Jesus could heal, so they used extraordinary measures to place a paralyzed man before him. When Jesus saw the faith of these individuals, he did not tell the man he was healed; instead, he simply said, "your sins are forgiven you."
The English word sins in verse 20 is translated from the Greek word hamartia, which means sin, i.e., a violation of God's law.
"And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" (Lk.5:21 KJV).
In order to understand why the Pharisees believed Jesus was speaking blasphemy, one must first understand that the English word forgive is translated from the Greek word aphiemi, which means to send forth. Jesus did not forgive this man's sins, he temporarily set them aside, which is entirely different from forgiving them.
Under the agreement between the Creator God and national Israel, sins could not be forgiven. Violations of God's law could only be temporarily set aside, because animal sacrifice could not affect the forgiveness of sin (Heb.9:1-28; 10:1-39).
The Pharisees did not know of the Sovereign God's existence and they did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah who was the Creator God in the flesh; therefore, in their thinking Jesus was attempting to usurp the authority of the Creator God who was the only one who could temporally set sin aside.
Although not noted by Luke, it seems these Pharisees understood this man's condition was the result of some violation of God's law; otherwise, Jesus would not have mentioned the setting aside of sin.
"But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said to them, What reason you in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Your sins be forgiven you; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man has power upon earth to forgive sins [set sins aside], (he said to the sick of the palsy,) I say to you, Arise, and take up your couch, and go into your house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God." (Lk.5:22-25 KJV).
The accounts in John and Luke about paralytic individuals being healed and the mention of a violation of God's law are important to consider when an analysis is made of the apostle James' instructions to those of the early church concerning the healing of sickness in which he mentions the forgiveness of sin. See Jms.5:14-16,
The Centurion's Servant
When Jesus was in Capernaum, he was asked to heal the servant of a centurion:
"And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lies at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus said to him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes and to my servant, Do this, and he does it" (Matt.8:5-9 KJV).
Although Jesus was willing to go with the centurion to heal his servant, the centurion being a man of authority himself clearly understood the power that Jesus could wield and knew that it was only necessary for Jesus to exercise his authority and his servant would be healed.
"When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Truly I say to you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say to you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion, Go your way; and as you have believed, so be it done to you . And his servant was healed in the same hour" (Matt.8:10-13 KJV). See also Matt.15:21-28.
This account shows that the centurion was absolutely convinced Jesus had the authority to heal, which made it unnecessary for Jesus to go to the centurion's home to heal his servant. This also gave Jesus an opportunity to teach that a person who exercises faith when requesting another person's healing can effect the healing of that person through the authority of Christ.
The Nobleman's Son
The healing of a nobleman's son again reveals that it was not necessary for Jesus to be physically present to effect the healing of an individual. This event also shows that the belief of the person requesting the healing is a major factor in another person receiving the healing requested:
"So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. Then said Jesus to him, Except you see signs and wonders, you will not believe" (Jn.4:46-48 KJV).
The English word believe in verse 48 is translated from the Greek word pisteuo, which in this context means to place one's trust in. For many people, their trust in God and his word is tied to physical acts and they will not trust God unless they see physical evidence.
"The nobleman said to him, Sir, come down ere my child die. Jesus said to him, Go your way; your son lives. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken to him, and he went his way" (Jn.4: 49-50 KJV).
Jesus did not need to go to the man's house in order to heal his son, because he had already determined in his mind to heal him and had commanded the healing to take place.
"And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Your son lives. Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said to him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said to him, Your son lives and he believed, and his whole house" (Jn.4:51-53 KJV).
A Blind Man Washes at the Pool of Siloam
After leaving the temple grounds where he had been in a heated discussion with some Pharisees and other Jews, Jesus saw a blind man and had compassion toward him, so he decided to heal him to show the goodness of God and that he was doing a work for his heavenly Father:
"And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" (Jn.9:1-3 KJV).
Because Jesus' disciples understood that some disabilities were the result of a parent's violation of certain aspects of God's law, they concluded that the man's blindness was the result of sin. But, this was not the cause, according to Jesus.
"I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night comes, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay" (Jn.9:4-6 KJV).
The English word anointed in verse 6 is translated from the Greek word epichrio, which means to smear over. Clearly, the spit and dirt from which Jesus made the mud that he applied to the man's eyes had no therapeutic or ritualistic value. So why did Jesus do this when he could just as easily have used his power to instantly remove the cause of the man's blindness? Verse 7 reveals the reason for the smearing of mud on the man's eyes through Jesus' instructions for him to wash his eyes in the pool of Siloam:
"And said to him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing" (Jn.9:7 KJV).
The instruction to wash in the pool of Siloam seems to be for the following reasons:
- By following Jesus' instructions, the blind man showed that he believed he would receive his sight when he washed his eyes in the pool of Siloam.
- Because the man was blind, he would need help to find the pool of Siloam; therefore, his healing would be a witness to those who guided him to the pool and watched his blindness removed as he washed the mud from his eyes.
- After the man received his eyesight, the rest of the narrative in John, chapter 9, shows that this healing was proof to the man, those who knew him, and to everyone else that Jesus was sent from God and was the Messiah. This healing was also a powerful witness to the Pharisees who rejected Jesus as the Messiah.
On another occasion, Jesus spit on a man's eyes and laid his hands on him twice to restore his sight (Mk.8:22-26). In this account, Jesus performed two physical acts during the process of healing this individual. Because Jesus had the power to heal this man without a physical act, it seems that these two physical acts may have been performed as encouragement to the man expecting to be healed or perhaps as a symbolic gesture of the healing to follow.
Matthew also records that two blind men followed Jesus begging him to heal them. When Jesus asked if they believed he could heal them, they said that they did, so Jesus touched their eyes and told them it would be according to their faith, and they received their sight. In this account, belief in the authority and power of Jesus to heal was required before healing would be granted (Matt.9:27-30). See also Matt.20:30-34.
The Deaf and Speech Impaired
Jesus healed many people who were deaf, mute, or speech impaired. In the following account, some compassionate individuals take matters into their own hands by bringing a man who was deaf and could hardly speak to Jesus and, asking him to heal the man:
"And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came to the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring to him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain" (Mk.7:31-35 KJV).
A Lack of Belief
Mark records that, early in Jesus ministry, he went to the area of Galilee where he had grown up, but he could not perform any great works there with the exception of laying hands on a few sick people in the process of healing them. Why is it that Jesus could not do more mighty works in Galilee among those who knew him and what does this account have to do with the process of healing the sick?
"And he went out from there, and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him. And when the Sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From where has this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given to him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Judas, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended by him. But Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own relatives, and in his own house. And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching" (Mk.6:1-6 KJV Para.).
The English word few in verse 5 is translated from the Greek word oligos, which means puny (in extent, degree, number, duration or value); especially neuter (adverbial) somewhat.
It seems that, because these people had known Jesus and his family for many years, they had difficulty believing Jesus was anything other than a carpenter's son—just an ordinary person. Therefore, it seems their lack of belief in him as a representative from the Sovereign God prevented Jesus from doing greater works in Galilee.
Mark's record of Jesus' trip to Galilee is important because it not only reveals that belief is a component in the process of doing great beneficial works among people but also that people who do not respect a true servant of God can limit that servant's ability to benefit them in word and deed.
Belief and Transference of Spiritual Energy
As Jesus was on his way with his disciples to heal the daughter of Jairus, a director of synagogue services, many people began to follow them. In this crowd of people was a woman who had tremendous faith in Jesus' power to heal:
"And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood for twelve years and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better off, but rather grew worse, When she heard of Jesus, she came in the crowd behind him, and touched his garment. For she said to herself, If I can only touch his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the source of her blood dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus, was immediately aware that virtue had gone out of him, turned around in the crowd, and said, Who touched my clothes? And his disciples said to him, You see all these crowding around you, and you ask, Who touched me?" (Mk.5:25-31 KJV Para.).
The disciple's question to Jesus was logical, because people were bumping into him and touching him as he walked along. But what was it that Jesus knew which was not apparent to his disciples?
The English word virtue in verse 30 is translated from the Greek word dunamis, which is derived from a word meaning force. Dunamis means miraculous power (usually by implication, a miracle itself).
It was Jesus' awareness that supernatural power had been transferred through him to someone else that caused him to ask who had touched him. The transference of spirit-power from one person to another is a much different sensation from the tactile touch of a finger or one body brushing against another.
"And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said to her, Daughter, your faith has made you whole; go in peace, and be whole of your plague" (Mk.5:32-34 KJV). See also Lk.8: 43-48.
This event plus the account in Luke 6:17-19 of Jesus healing a great number people that came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, and the coastal areas of Tyre and Sidon show that there is a transfer of spirit-energy from or through one person to another during the healing process, as well as that faith is a major component in the process of healing and it can initiate supernatural healing.
The many accounts in the New Testament of Jesus healing people of various disabilities and illnesses reveal that no disability or illness is beyond supernatural healing through the power of the holy spirit.
Although Jesus sometimes performed a physical act when healing people, he also allowed a person's belief and faith to initiate healing.
The following list summarizes some of the physical acts Jesus did or did not perform as he healed people. The list also summarizes the aspect of belief and faith as it relates to healing:
- He put his hands on people.
- He spit on people's eyes or spit on the ground.
- He applied spit and dirt to a person's eyes.
- He touched the person's infirmity.
- He spoke a command to effect a healing.
- He spoke no audible command for healing, but just said the person was healed.
- He gave instructions to be followed before a healing would occur.
In the examples of Jesus healing individuals, no specific pattern, ritual, or method is established. Instead, what we see is Jesus using the method which fit the circumstance in which healing was to be performed. All the examples of Jesus healing individuals show that the healing was instantaneous or happened soon after a command was given to heal, or occurred after the person followed instructions to perform a certain act.
We are not told everything that Jesus did or did not do as he went about healing people and proclaiming the Kingdom of God. But, we are told enough so that we can know and understand that healing people is not only an act of compassion but also a major part of any powerful ministry proclaiming the Kingdom of God.
By B.L. Cocherell b8w16-5