Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sending the Seventy, part 12: Healing the Sick

Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' (Luke 10:7-9 NASB)

We are studying the passage in Luke 10 that relates the sending of the seventy to preach and heal in the name of Jesus, and looking specifically at verse 9 today.  Jesus gave His sent ones two jobs. The first was to heal the sick and the second was to proclaim the kingdom of heaven. It's important to see this clearly, because it is shocking in today's society. 

When the sent ones entered a city (town/village/community) they were to heal the sick. Healing the sick would give them an opportunity to share the news of Jesus. Healing the sick was simply a tool for evangelism and not the objective of the trip. If the town received them, they were to heal "those in it who are sick". There is nothing in this passage that says the sick had to receive Christ first, nor that they had to receive Him at all. The community's hospitality would be sufficient for everyone there to have a chance for healing. 

Selah. Pause and consider. 

This is the kind of passage we tend to rush past, for some reason assuming that it doesn't apply to us. Why would that be the case? Why would God use healing in this way for the twelve when they were sent and again for the seventy if He did not intend for us to use healing as a means of evangelism? I don't think He would. As a physician, I may regret this next sentence, but as a believer I have to embrace it. The seventy who were to heal all the sick in a town were not physicians. They did not have medication or a scalpel. All they had was a Savior and He was more than enough. He still is. 

Jesus made it clear that, when the Holy Spirit was sent after His return to heaven, his followers would be able to do what He did and more. What did Jesus do? Among other things, He healed the sick. If He healed the sick and we are to be able to do what He did, should we not also be able to heal the sick? 

Selah. Pause and consider. 

Some years ago, a respected medical journal reported documented evidence of restored sight and hearing after prayers for healing were administered. Miraculous healing does happen, even today. 

Why, then, do we not see this in our churches every time the doors are opened? I've pondered this for years. When the seventy entered a town, people who were sick either came themselves seeking healing or were brought by family or friends. Why don't the sick among us start by requesting healing? James 5 is pretty clear on healing. 

Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. (James 5:14-15 NASB)

Is that true or not? 

Selah. Pause and consider. 

The word translated as "restore" is sozo and means "to restore to health, make whole". Everyone who asks for healing does eventually get healed, if not in this world, then in eternity. Perhaps, though, there is room in our faith for more of the miraculous. Perhaps what Jesus intended was that the miraculous would be used to open doors for the gospel, even in this country. I can't imagine that Jesus intended miraculous healings wherever the gospel is shared except in the United States. That makes no sense. I can't imagine that He intended only a small portion of the body of Christ or a few denominations to experience healing. That makes no sense, either. What, then, is the problem? What prevents us from being the beacon of light that draws those around us to the hope and healing that only Christ can give? 

Selah. Pause and consider. 

Let's open a dialogue. Let's see if we can't move closer to what Jesus intended the church to be. During Advent, we celebrate the miraculous indwelling of flesh by God Himself. From that humble beginning, a way was made for the Spirit of God to fill each of us. Let's take a step closer to fulfilling all that gift was meant to bring. After all, why would we not? There is no greater adventure than following Christ. This Christmas, let's embrace the adventure!