Thursday, May 10, 2018

Jesus heals body and soul

A sudden burst of sunlight interrupted the master's teaching. Everyone looked up to see a man being lowered through a hole in the roof. We learn in Luke's Gospel (5:17-26) that the man is paralyzed. His friends wanted to bring him to Jesus; his only hope.

They'd heard Jesus was in town and teaching in a nearby house. These men knew that if they could get their friend to Jesus, his life would be changed. Upon arrival, they were disappointed to find the house full. It was standing room only. People were peeking in and those who couldn't see were listening outside the walls.

The friends of the paralyzed man would not be deterred from their mission. They climbed up on the roof, carrying their friend, and dug a hole in it so they can place their friend in front of Jesus.

Imagine the shock of the crowd at the audacity of these invaders. All eyes turn back to Jesus when he says, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 5:20)

Wait! What?”

It was so quiet you could almost hear the thoughts of the people. The Bible says that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Luke 5:21)

What about the healing? It seems odd that Jesus forgave the paralyzed man before healing him but Jesus used this moment to show that he had the authority to forgive sins by healing the man.

Jesus' healing reaches beyond our bodily ailments to the salvation of our eternal souls; even, beyond death. It is holistic healing. A woman, who had a blood flow for 12 years, touched the hem of Jesus' clothes and her bleeding stopped immediately. What Jesus then told her reaches beyond cure to the deeper need of the whole person: “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)

God is not just interested in saving our souls. Salvation is healing for the whole person: body, mind and spirit. God has promised the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of the body to life everlasting. The Gospels record 40 healings that were signs pointing ahead to our ultimate healing.

If God is interested in both our physical and spiritual health, then so should the church. As a global body the church has done well in this area. We have established public schools, universities, hospitals, orphanages, rescue missions and all manner of relief and development ministries; all in an effort to minister to body and soul. William Carey, the father of modern missions, established schools and clinics in an effort to reach the people of India with the gospel.

Local churches are the hands and feet of Jesus, ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of our neighbors. This is especially true in an under-resourced, inner-city area. Working with agencies that provide human services can bring new life into a congregation facing declining numbers and finances while saddled with a large building. Sharing the building will help cover utilities and deferred maintenance and bring new people into the building. This type of cooperation provides the type of relationship building that wins souls and heals bodies and emotions.

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4-5 (NIV)

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