15 September 2014

What Physical Healing has to do with the Gospel

My thoughts followed the disciples through their preaching journeys, when Jesus sent them out two by two with power.  Power to preach.  Power to heal.  Power to cast out devils.

I wondered why power to heal physical diseases needed to go along with the preaching.  

Casting out demons seemed an obvious necessity, to make room for Jesus and the Holy Spirit, of course.  But physical healing?

Healthy people think more clearly, so perhaps the gift of health would clear the way for people to understand the gospel.

The sick made well would perhaps feel so grateful that they would respond to the gospel call.

Sick people made instantly healthy people would recognize the hand of power, and exercise faith in God's power to restore them spiritually, too.

All those seemed like good reasons, but I couldn't shake the thought that there might be a reason even more foundational than those.  As I thought some more, and asked God to give me wisdom to understand His Word, something more did indeed return to my mind--something I remembered reading years ago.

"Satan has the power of disease and death, and in every age the curse has been more visible, and the power of Satan more plainly seen."  White, Ellen G.  Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, p. 69.

Clearly Satan had power over demons, which needed to be cast out.  But if he also exercised power over disease?  Ah, here was a hint.

I thought about another story I'd been studying and typing earlier in the day.  People were accusing Jesus of being possessed with the devil, and exercising Satan's authority.  

I'd been struck by that story for several days, actually, thinking about the underlying assumptions of such an accusation.  If they really believed he was casting out devils by Beelzebub, I thought, they could truly only believe one of two things.  

On the one hand, they might have believed that the devil was indeed more powerful than anyone or anything else in the universe; without his permission no one could tell the demons what to do.  It's a sobering thought, yet sometimes I think we fall prey to it just like they may have.

On the other hand, even if they really did believe God had power over Satan, they certainly didn't believe Jesus came from God.

Either way, Jesus answered their murmurings in parables.  Can a kingdom or a house stand if it is divided against itself?  Of course not.  Furthermore,

"No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his goods."  Mark 3:27

I can't help but think Jesus is talking about Himself here.  It's as if He's saying, Sure, Satan has some measure of strength.  But I am here to bind him up, and spoil his goods.  Trust in Me.  I Am not only strong.  I Am strongest.

Therefore, because of that power Satan had over disease and death, part of binding up Satan and spoiling his goods needed to be physical healing.  

Then the difficult question remains:  If Jesus bound up Satan, why do [I, my loved ones, my friends], as Christians, still suffer diseases?

I'm not talking about the common cold.  I'm talking about serious, life-altering (if not life-threatening) illnesses. Illnesses that bring untold daily suffering in the lives of dedicated Christian people.

Shouldn't they experience healing like whole towns did in Jesus' day?

I don't know the answer to the question.

I do know I can trust Jesus, who through His victory on the cross bought back power over death and disease.

I do know the devil knows he couldn't prevail against Jesus in the war in heaven, and he knows he only has a short time left before his final end.  (See Revelation 12.)

Thus while even I myself still suffer things I don't have answers for, I am the more resolved to turn my health, and the health of my friends and family, over to Jesus.  I invite Him to bind up Satan's power over my life, and spoil that old serpent's power over disease.

And after I've done that?

I can rest in the arms of my Savior, who I've chosen to be the chairman of the board of my health.  Whether I or friends or family experience immediate healing or not, I can trust Him to work out everything for His glory and my salvation. 

I know He's gaining the victory in this whole huge war against evil, and I can trust Him to prevail in the battlefield of my own life.  Spiritually, physically, mentally, in every way imaginable.

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