On the Supernatural: Healing and Disease in the Bible

Published October 29, 2014 in 

If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you….The Lord will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you.” – Exodus 15:26; Deut. 7:15

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them” – Matthew 4:23-24

 

If we would critically analyze the Gospels, we would observe that more than one-third of Jesus’ ministry was invested in holistic healthcare. He was engaged in the physiological healing of a person as well as mental, emotional and spiritual. According to Graham Jones’ ministry, “Out of 3,774 verses in the Gospels, 484 relate specifically to the healing of physical and mental illnesses and the resurrection of the dead. Of the 1,257 narrative verses in the Gospels 484 (38.5 percent) are devoted to describing healing miracles.” This statistical data would prove both the supernatural activities performed by Jesus Christ and His holistic approach to healthcare in healing of diseases and illnesses. After careful thought on the foregoing biblical verses, I have to confess that it is God’s perfect will and desire that His people would live a healthy life, but Evil would always plan to counter attack God’s plan for humanity. God is responsible for healing His people and when they suffer sickness and disease. Moreover, health is not only an absence of disease but making one’s life productive and meaningful to the glory of Jesus Christ.

 

Another important point about Jesus’ healing ministry is that “hearing the Word” and the “persistent faith” of the patient (Mark 5:24-34, 10:46-52) or someone in his/her community (Luke 5:17-25) always played a critical role for one to receive supernatural healing. When Jesus’ disciples realized that they didn’t have enough or miracle-working faith, they did not hesitate to ask Jesus to increase it. In this sense, faith is a gift from Jesus Christ (Luke 17:5; Ephesians 2:8; Hebrews 11:11) and this is not ours. Ours is the response we make to the Gospel – by opening and surrendering our heart to Jesus. On the other hand, when Jesus performed supernatural activities, he would sometimes speak the word or use an earthly means. Regardless, one thing is clear and important – Jesus is the Source of holistic healing and patients need to respond according to the will of Jesus. I am grateful to God for allowing me to witness and experience supernatural healing in my ministry before and after immigrating to the United States.

 

At this point, it is worth noting to look at John Wesley’s keen interest in medicine and supernatural activities of God. He both witnessed and experienced it in his life and ministry. In his book, Poverty and Wealth, Harry Ward illustrated Wesley’s strong interest in medicine:

 

The church should cooperate in extending the facilities of all public institutions to the poor who are sick. John Wesley opened a free dispensary, associated an apothecary and an experienced surgeon with him, and treated six hundred cases in six months. For twenty-seven years he was interested in the study of medicine, tried to prepare himself when he came to America to help those who had no physician, issued several books on the treatment of sickness and the promotion of health, one of which ran through thirty-two editions, and was one of the first men in England to use electrical apparatus for the treatment of disease.

 

This account of Wesley’s engagement in healthcare ministry through the use of medical science is phenomenal during his time. This is an exceedingly important part of his social ministry to the poor. On the other hand, Wesley realized that this was not enough without exercising the gift of faith in invoking the supernatural activity of God upon his ministry. As John Kent emphatically stated, “Wesleyanism in the 1740s….asserts that supernatural power was available to the individual believer.” This was the faith of the early Methodists and a proof of their direct recognition of the power of God to produce supernatural things in their lives and ministry. Kent further stated Wesley’s many accounts of supernatural experiences both to himself and to the people he was ministering:

 

“Healings, Wesley thought, as with all spiritual gifts, were divided out with a sparing hand by God because of the lukewarmness of the Church and the consequent lack of faith. He also believed God always had the prerogative to grant or withhold healing in His wisdom. An early recorded instance of a healing concerned Wesley himself in 1746. He had severe toothache. A friend informed him that he had prayed for himself when suffering similarly. At once, Wesley followed his example and was healed. In his Journal, he relates how a woman, bed-ridden for several months, immediately arose after he prayed for her. A woman on her deathbed also made a remarkable recovery. At Armagh in 1785 a woman informed him that she had a violent pain in her head for four weeks which completely disappeared when Wesley laid hands on her. Wesley was in favour of people praying for healing at the local society level…On at least three occasions, when faced with injury in his horses, Wesley recorded ‘It being impossible to procure any human help, I knew of no remedy but prayer. Immediately the lameness was gone.’”

 

I am exceedingly excited to discover these untold spiritual root of ours on faith and medicine. It is clear enough that early Methodism had been directly involved and engaged both in the practice of medicine and exercise of faith in the supernatural works of God. My real hope and prayer is to see this holistic ministry back in many of our congregations throughout the world.

 

Finally, I would hope to further discuss four key elements to experience the supernatural works of God in the area of healing. First, the Gospel must be preached; second, hearers should welcome and respond accordingly; third, hearers should persevere (be determined) in faith to receive their healing, and fourth, hearers need to realize that God is moved when His child/ren sincerely and desperately cry out to Him (e.g Hezekiah’s healing in 2 Kings 20:1-7, Isaiah 38:1-9; Mary’s story in raising of Lazarus from the dead John 11:32-35)

 

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