Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Viewpoint on Healing – Part 2

In this article, I would like to examine what I could find on the healing practices and teachings of an individual who is considered to be one of the world’s most renowned healers of all time – Jesus Christ. Not only is he viewed as a master healer by most, but he is considered to be God the Son by a sizeable portion of the world’s population, the one who actually created this world and created us; therefore, certainly the most knowledgeable about how to help us heal!

Modern medicine has almost completely divorced itself from the spiritual side of healing, for a variety of possible reasons. First, certainly not all who practice modern medicine would consider themselves spiritual. And even fewer are individuals of great faith in Jesus Christ. Also, in our sophisticated modern world, any mingling of spiritual beliefs with the secular, professional world goes against the politically correct grain of society. This unfortunate atmosphere of hostility toward the mixing of the spiritual with daily life seems to be enough to dissuade even those practitioners of faith from expressing their faith openly, and encouraging their patients to embrace it.

Surprisingly, even in the “believing” Christian world, we find relatively few who seek (and even fewer who practice) healing in the style of Jesus. Maybe we’ve been jaded by the antics of bug-eyed tele-evangelists speaking in tongues and slapping people on the forehead. Or maybe we’ve never personally seen a miraculous faith healing take place, and don’t know anyone else who has either, so it’s difficult to believe in. Maybe we’ve prayed with all the faith we can muster for our own healing or for those we care about, and seen little come of it.

Either way, scripture is filled with teachings about healing, and stories of miraculous healings taking place through faith in God. What do the scriptures say about healing? What insights can be gained? (WARNING – if you are offended by people talking about the scriptures, you might not want to continue reading.)

One very enlightening doctrine that Jesus demonstrates is a minimal distinction between spiritual and physical healing – people can be healed on a physical level as they are freed from spiritual issues, including “sin” (or anything that is ungodly, contrary to the nature of God).

Most are familiar with the story of the paralytic man who is brought before Jesus to be healed, his four friends lowering his bed through a hole in the roof of the home where Jesus was. In this instance, Jesus looks upon the faith of the afflicted man and his associates and declares: “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” Only after relieving this man of his spiritual burdens does Jesus command him to “take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house” (Mark 2: 3-12).

This incredible manifestation of power blessed not only the previously afflicted individual, “but when the multitudes saw it, they marveled, and glorified God” (Matt 9: 8). A miracle like this would strengthen the faith of those already inclined toward faith, and cause extreme discomfort to “certain of the scribes” who then accused Jesus of blasphemy.

Other times, it appears that a physical healing wrought by Jesus catalyzes spiritual healing as well! When Jesus heals two blind men, he touches their eyes, “And their eyes were opened.” Immediately upon receiving their physical sight, these men “spread abroad [Jesus’] fame” throughout the area. It sounds like their spiritual eyes may have also benefited from being the recipient of such a miraculous healing!

Miracles, then, were not rendered in order to convert people to Jesus and his gospel, but rather it appears they served to further separate the faithful from the faithless. Only those who already possessed some measure faith on Jesus’ name and who desired to do good would be enlivened by his miracles. In one book of scripture, this principle is confirmed as Jesus speaks to a people besieged by destruction and states: “. . . return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted that I may heal you” (3 Nephi 9: 13).

Another somewhat controversial principle that is quite clearly taught in the scriptures is the close connection between devils and unclean spirits, and all types of diseases and disorders. Very frequently, Jesus heals individuals of afflictions by casting devils or unclean spirits out of them. Furthermore, the scriptures repeatedly link the casting out of spirits with healing indicating the close relationship that can exist between being set free from the demonic, and being set free from a variety of ailments. For instance, Jesus “cast spirits out by his word, and healed all that were sick” (Matt 8: 16-17).

On one occasion, a man who was both blind and dumb was brought to Jesus to be healed. Jesus cast the devil out of him, “and the blind and dumb both spake and saw” (Matt 12: 22). Interestingly, Jesus is condemned by the Pharisees who witness this healing saying: “This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils” (Matt 12: 24). Jesus reproaches them and teaches: “. . . if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?” (Matt 12: 25) Casting spirits out of people caused Jesus a lot of grief from the unbelieving set. It must have been important to continue doing, however, because he appears undeterred by the scoffs and accusations of the faithless.

This brings us to the next question – if the casting out of devils was important to healing in the time of Jesus, what about now? If individuals, even Mary Magdalene “out of whom went seven devils” (Luke 8: 2), were commonly tormented by devils and unclean spirits in the days of Jesus, why do we presume to think that cases like these are rare in our day? Why do many apparently believe that the only ones at risk for being tormented by devils are those involved in evil activities such as the worship of satan?

The argument is ludicrous that supposes Jesus and his disciples must have been mistaken about these devils because they didn’t have the understanding or technology we have today to diagnose, and that some of those people probably just had some sort of chemical imbalance and weren’t really under the influence of devils and spirits after all. If Jesus were still living on the earth today and healing the multitudes, I wonder – would he be prescribing Zoloft and Prozac, or would he do what he always did and get to the very deepest, root cause of peoples’ issues so they could be set completely free, with no side effects? And what would society have to think about that?!

Another extremely important point regarding healing already lightly touched on and requires further discussion is this: healing can come instantly, and when it does, it is because of FAITH – faith in Jesus Christ, in particular.

Jesus touches the hand of Peter’s mother-in-law to instantly raise her from a severe fever, after which she is well enough to immediately minister unto them (Mark 1: 30-31).

The centurion whose servant was sick with a palsy comes to Jesus and asks him to heal that servant merely by “speak[ing] the word only, and my servant shall be healed.” Jesus remarks: “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. . . . Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee” (Matt 8: 5-13).

A woman not of the covenant approaches Jesus and implores him to heal her daughter, who was “grievously vexed with a devil”. Even though his ministry was not to the Gentiles at that time, Jesus declares: “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour” (Matt 15: 22-28).

Faith is also essential for the one doing the healing. When his disciples were unable to heal a boy afflicted with a devil, Jesus castigates them with the words: “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, . . . nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matt 17: 14-21).

Conversely, a lack of faith made it impossible for Jesus to manifest miraculous healings to the people; Jesus “did not many mighty works [in Galilee] because of their unbelief” and because “they were offended in him” (Matt 13: 55-58).

Jesus seems to have a pretty high success rate in his healing of sickness and disease. Maybe we should pay more attention to his methods and the pattern he set for healing. Not only do they seem more effective than what we find in modern and even alternative medicine, but is also appears to cost a lot less!

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