I want to take a journey today through the healing ministry of Jesus and how people connected with him to receive their healing. Before I start I want to use four Scriptures as a backdrop:
1. Hosea 14:5 I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall grow like the lily, and lengthen his roots like Lebanon.
This seems a bit incongruous - growing like a lily but having huge tree roots like a cedar of Lebanon. For me it is like growing new shoots of faith; it shows the importance of having our roots deeply grounded in God’s word and God’s truth, even when we feel our faith is like a growing flower and not very strong. We may have strong faith in all sorts of other areas but when we are up against a new health challenge we have to grow new shoots of faith, but still firmly grounded in the truth of God’s word and God’s faithfulness.
It is not the time for testing out new ideas and basing our faith on experience or other people’s thoughts.
2. John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. So if we are going to look at the healing ministry of Jesus, we are going to see the will of him who sent him, the father God. This is further confirmed in…
3. John 14:8–9.
Philip said to him, Lord show us the father and it is sufficient for us. Jesus said to him, have I been with you so long and yet you have not known me Philip? He who has seen me has seen the father; so how can you say show us the father?
Acts 10:38. How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
So the Scriptures confirm that when we look at the healing ministry of Jesus, we are looking at what God wanted him to do. So if we want to know God’s mind about things, we look at how Jesus demonstrated his father through his actions and words. We see what God thought about the poor, pride, greed, Pharisaism, poverty, holiness, sin, love, prayer, etc etc by looking at the response and teachings of Jesus.
So… To the title of my sermon, connecting with Jesus. It has often been said that healing is a journey, and I believe it’s right that we Christians should say to people who are seeking healing, that we will walk with them and support them every step of the way. But as I look at the healing ministry of Jesus I notice that people’s healing journey was to connect with Jesus.
Once they connected with him the healing happened. Not one person left Jesus without their healing. Not one. But they had to connect with him. This might be through calling out to him, pushing through the crowd to him, being carried to him, somebody else fetching Jesus on their behalf, Jesus walking in the house, but one way or another they needed to make contact with Jesus. I wonder if these days we risk seeking healing, and that is our quest, our goal, and we feel so disappointed when we don’t seem to receive, and perhaps we missed the point of connecting with Jesus as being more important than receiving the healing. It appears the healing was a “given” - and I mean GIVEN - in all the instances of connecting with Jesus in the Gospels. He healed so many different ways, and still does, so we need to know him well enough to ask what are you saying to me about the sickness? Do I need to do anything E.g. seek medical advice? Do I leave it to you? Do I get someone else to pray with me? Are there Scriptures and stories that will help my faith? Do I need to change my lifestyle and habits?
How can we possibly know his thoughts about these things unless we draw close to him, and how do we draw close to him? Let me use an example from the old Testament in the book of Ruth. In this story, Ruth represents us, Boaz the hero represents Jesus, and Naomi Ruth‘s mother in law represents the Holy Spirit. In chapter 3, we have Naomi advising Ruth to go and ask Boaz to take care of her. She says to wash herself, anoint herself and put on her best clothes and basically throw herself at his feet. We can do all these four things because of what Christ has done at the cross for us. We can know we are washed clean from our sins, we can receive the Holy Spirit’s anointing , we can be confident in the robe of righteousness that makes us worthy to come to the throne of grace and acknowledge our need. When Ruth tells Naomi that she has put her case to Boaz, Naomi says you can leave it now he’ll take care of it, and he did! To be honest it goes against the grain to admit our need of him, but this is how people received their healing from Jesus.
Look at the man in John 5:1-9 at the pool of Bethesda. Jesus says to him do you want to be made well? And he says I can’t do it - and nobody else helps me. So Jesus heals him. Jairus comes to Jesus in Mark 5: 22-24 and says my little daughter is dying, You must come and lay your hands on her, so Jesus did. The leper says to Jesus in Mark 1:40, if you are willing you can make me clean. So Jesus said “I am willing” and he healed him. In Mark 9, a desperate father brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus. Let’s look at this in a bit more detail: Jesus has taken Peter James and John up the mountain and he is transfigured before them. On the way down there is a great commotion because the other nine disciples have not been able to cast the demon out of this boy. And how desperately aware we are as Christians of that terrible sense of failure and sadness when we pray for people and they appear to not be healed. So this father is saying, “I can’t do anything and nor can your disciples”. Jesus basically says to him “If you can believe, all things are possible.” How excruciating for this man to be told he needs more faith, and haven’t we all been slapped about by that thought. So the man says, “I do believe but I can’t really believe for this.” And isn’t that how we are? We do believe, we have faith for all sorts of things but maybe In this particular health challenge we are finding it hard to believe. Jesus met him right there and healed the boy. Though I am firmly convinced that faith is a huge factor in healing, when we throw ourselves on Jesus and say, “do you know Lord I’m not sure I can even believe for this although my roots are deeply grounded in the framework of truth that you are the healer”…give more scriptures. And this is the time to take your roots deeper, when the tree is in dry ground it digs deeper for water etc.
(It’s worth noting here that we can only believe through Grace. In Acts 18:27 it talks about “those who had believed through Grace”. Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith, the beginning and the end of our faith as it were. We know that in Ephesians 2:8 it says that by Grace we have been saved through faith and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.
You could put the word “healing” in there: for by grace you have been healed through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. It is okay to ask for the grace to believe, just as the grace of God enabled you to believe for your salvation.)
However we can see that sometimes, like in the case of this demon possessed boy, Jesus seems to heal on his own faith. Similarly with the story of the raising of Lazarus in John chapter 11, I can’t see anybody in that story who believes. The disciples say let’s go and die with Lazarus, Martha says if only you’d been here Jesus he wouldn’t have died, and yes I do believe he’ll be resurrected in the last day. Even Mary (who was commended for sitting at Jesus’s feet to listen to him) says “if only you’d been here he wouldn’t have died.” There is nobody saying “come on Jesus let’s raise him from the dead” - but he does it anyway because of his compassion for the family. But going back to the title of this message, each one of these people connected with Jesus and received the healing whatever their level of faith.
Let me give you another example of connecting with Jesus, though not specifically about healing. Let’s look at John 6:16–21, the story of Jesus walking on the water. The disciples are in a storm rowing as hard as they can against the wind.
Some of them are seasoned fishermen and know those waters, others are not. But one way or another they are failing. Jesus comes to them walking on the water, remember this is not a glassy sea but somewhat choppy! Enough to terrify These fishermen into thinking it is their last moments because they’ve seen a ghost! When they realise it’s Jesus they let him in the boat. Immediately the waters calmed and the boat was at the land where they were going!! And this is my last point - let him in the boat. What is your storm, what is your challenge that you simply don’t know what to do about and everything you’ve tried has failed? What is your health issue? Let him in the boat. You’ve rowed and rowed and struggled and struggled and done everything you know how. Maybe you’re embarrassed to admit your failure. You have maybe relied on other people who you know are good at this sort of thing and they haven’t been able to get you safely to shore. Maybe you’re scared of asking Jesus into the boat because of what he might say or do, but can it be worse than this? Perhaps you won’t have your miracle straight away, but with him in the boat you have your answer!! Let’s invite him right into our situation with us, rather than shouting at him to get us out of it, say Lord come in to the sickness with me, come into this challenge with me, come into this relationship problem with me and let’s start here where we are. And you show me the next steps. And if I’m too weak to do it I’m going to trust you to do it for me and carry me until I can walk again.
One more thought: in Acts 3 we have the story of Peter and John healing the man at the gate of the temple. Now Jesus wasn’t there for the man to connect with so how did it happen? Peter says, “we can’t do this ourselves but we have a name!” The man could connect with Jesus through the name! “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk!” We also have that name which represents everything that Jesus was on the Earth including his demonstration of the father.
James 5:14 tells us to receive prayer and anointing with oil in the name of the Lord. In the church today we have the Name representing the son and father, and the oil representing the Holy Spirit. Let’s believe in his powerful name to do what he would do if he was here in person!
So let’s pray and let’s connect with Jesus, remembering that everything we need to connect with him has been done through his death on the cross and His resurrection. He is seated in heaven with all his enemies and our enemies and his feet with all authority.