Faith is the key

Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man.

After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. Then he spat and touched the man's tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, 'Ephphatha!' (which means 'Be opened!'). At this, the man's ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. 'He has done everything well,' they said. 'He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.' (Mar 7:31–37)

Every disease and sickness

Matthew tells us that Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness among the people (Mat 4:23).

What can we learn from this? That God is not only interested in our spiritual health, but also in our physical health; and that is not surprising when we consider that our bodies are temples of his Spirit (1Co 6:19).

It also shows that there is no disease or sickness that he cannot, or will not, heal. He can even raise the dead (Act 9:36–42)!

Do you want to get well?

In Joh 5:1–9a, Jesus asked a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years whether he wanted to get well. You would have thought the answer would have been obvious, but God understands the human heart. He knows that some people, if they are not healed after a certain length of time, stop praying and accept the situation.

It is not known whether being healed when the angel stirred the waters was fact or superstition (see footnote in NIV), but by his answer the man showed that he did want to be healed; so Jesus healed him.

A study of the Gospels will show that, in respect to healing, Jesus rarely took the initiative. Normally, he only healed people when they asked him to—their asking, and sometimes they had to persist in asking (Luk 18: 35–43), proving their faith. But he healed all who came to him, he turned no one away, and he is the same yesterday and today and for ever (Heb 13:8)!

The faith of others

Faith is the key to healing. In Lystra there was a man who had been lame from birth and had never walked. When Paul saw he had the faith to be healed he said, 'Stand up on your feet!' At that, the man jumped up and began to walk (Act 14:8–10). The man was healed because he had the faith to be healed.

In Mat 9:1–8, some men brought a paralysed man to Jesus on a mat. V2 says, 'When Jesus saw their faith' (either the faith of all of them, or those who had brought him to Jesus) he forgave his sins and healed his body—again showing that God is interested in our physical health as well as our spiritual health.

In our opening text, some people brought to Jesus a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they (the people who had brought him to Jesus) begged (Greek: asked, begged, pleaded with) him to heal him, so he did.

People can be healed by their own faith (Mar 5:24–34), by the faith of others, or by both; but faith is the key.

The physical types the spiritual

Jesus healed every disease and sickness among the people and yet the Gospels mention only a few of them, particularly enabling the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear and the mute to speak. Why is that?

The Bible is an historical book, but it is also a spiritual book: it teaches us spiritual truths from events that took place in the past. What Jesus did for those people physically, illustrates what God does for us spiritually.

Isaiah was writing about spiritual events, as well as physical events, when he wrote:

Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. (Isa 35: 5–6a)

Our Lord's ministry was spiritual as well as physical—the physical often typing the spiritual.

When Jesus healed the man physically, the people were amazed. 'He has done everything well,' they said. 'He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.'

They were thrilled about the physical healings, but they didn't understand what they were pointing to spiritually. And neither did the disciples at that time because the Holy Spirit, who gives understanding of spiritual truth (Joh 16:13), wasn't given to them until later (Joh 7:37–39; 20:21–22).

It's great to be healed physically, but even better to be healed spiritually. God wants us to enjoy both (3Jo 1:2), but the spiritual is better.

To be continued…

Michael Graham
May 2014

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®. NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.

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