By Cleveland M. Becton
As we observe the ministry of both Jesus and the apostles, it is evident that divine healing was not something peripheral to their ministries. It was an important witness to Jesus as the promised Messiah and Savior from sin. When the man with the palsy was let down through the broken roof to where Jesus was ministering, the Scripture says: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mark 2:5).
Immediately the scribes responded by asking, “Who can forgive sins but God only?” (Mark 2:7). Jesus perceived what they were asking, and he answered by asking them a question: “Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? (Mark 2:9).
In this tremendous instance of healing the Bible shows a close connection between the healing ministry of Jesus and His ministry of salvation. His power to heal was actually a witness to His authority to forgive sins. People came from all directions both to hear Him and to be healed. He never turned people away, but healed all who came to Him. He also delivered people from demons and freed them from all the problems that had been caused either by themselves or by the demons in their lives.
Jesus recognized that sickness is often the result of sin or of the activity of Satan. He also recognized that sickness is not always the direct result of sin. There were times when it was an opportunity for God to be glorified.
Divine healing continued to be an integral part of the gospel through the ministry of the apostles and the early church. But miracles were not limited to the apostles. The promise of Jesus was to all believers who would ask in His name. God used deacons, such as Philip, to preach and to heal. God used Ananias to heal Saul. Healing is available to all and can be engaged in by any believer. (See Mark 16:15-18.) Gifts of healings are included among the manifestations of the Spirit, which are intended to edify, or build up, the church and are tied in with the witness to Jesus Christ as Lord. (See 1 Corinthians 12.)
At Calvary Jesus made a full atonement for the whole man. Just as salvation is by grace through faith, so are all of God’s blessings and gifts, including healing. We cannot earn them, and we do not deserve them. The promise of healing does not rule out suffering for Jesus’ sake. We are expected to follow His example. Nor are we to look to divine healing as a substitute for obedience to the rules of physical and mental health. Jesus even recognized the disciple’s need to get away from the crowds and to rest at times.
We do not understand all that pertains to divine healing. We still see through a glass darkly. We do not understand why some are healed and others are not, any more than we understand why God permitted James to be martyred while Peter was delivered. But our part is to believe the promises of God and to leave the outcome in His hands.