Luke chapter 8 begins by reminding us that throughout Jesus’ ministry He proclaimed the good news, accompanied by signs and wonders, healing multitudes. When Jesus sent the disciples out He said: “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils” (Matthew 10:7-8). When He gave the ‘Great Commission’, He said that those who believe in Him should preach the gospel and make disciples (Matt 28:19), and that they should lay their hands on the sick and they would recover (Mark 16:18). In the book of Acts, Dr Luke records that the early church prayed “with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:29).
Somehow, we have all heard and responded (to some degree or another) to the call to preach the gospel, but it seems only a handful in today’s church have taken Jesus at His Word and are prepared and willing to pray for healing for the sick.
This is largely the result of a lack of faith in God’s Word. We say we believe and trust His Word, but shy away from actually praying for the sick, just in case it doesn’t work! With such unbelief it’s no surprise we see few healed (see Matt 13:58) , and reaching the lost seems like an almost impossible task in a world where people see no need for an empty religion.
But what if… what if it’s true! What if God still heals people today?
Jesus came to destroy the works of the Devil (1 John 3:8)… and repeatedly Jesus attributes sickness to the work of the Devil. (see Luke 13:11-16 / Luke 8:2 / Luke 4:39).
The very ‘good news’ Jesus went throughout every city proclaiming was the mission He declared He’d been given:
─he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor;
─he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted,
─to preach deliverance to the captives, and
─recovering of sight to the blind,
─to set at liberty them that are bruised, (Luke 4:18)
The ‘good news’ was that God was breaking the power of the Devil over people’s lives! It included forgiveness of sins (quickening of our souls – see Ephesians 2:1-6), and the quickening of our mortal bodies (Romans 8:11). Our bodies become the Temple of the Holy Spirit when we turn to the cross and put our faith and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins (1 Cor 3:16). But does the Holy Spirit expect a dilapidated and impaired Temple to dwell in? Most Christians have no doubt that Jesus can quicken our souls; so why do we struggle to believe that the One to Whom all power is given, in Heaven and Earth (Matt 28:18) can and will quicken our mortal bodies if we just look to Him with the same faith for healing that we do for salvation?
In the book of Numbers we read the account of how the Children of Israel murmured against Moses and complained about the Manna God had provided for them. As a result we read that “the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died” (Num 21:6). When the people acknowledged their sin God told Moses to “make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live” (Num 21:8). Anyone that looked upon this serpent on a pole (in faith) was then forgiven for their sin and healed.
In John chapter 3 Jesus Himself explains that this real event for the Children of Israel was a model in advance that spoke of Himself becoming sin for us and being put upon the cross. All who look in faith to Jesus “should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14). Note that here we have the promise that we shall not perish (which applies to the physical life) and the promise of eternal life to come!
Do we really think that the serpent on a pole as a type was more effective than the fulfilment of Christ on the Cross? If the Children of Israel were healed and forgiven by looking at a serpent on a pole, are we who look to the actual Lamb of God, who became sin for us, ‘only’ to expect forgiveness, but somehow cannot expect healing? Is the arm of the Lord somehow shortened? (Isaiah 59:1).
“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;
who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction;
who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things;
so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:2-5)
Do we think the blessings under the old covenant with Israel were greater than the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus?
In Luke 8:5-15 we have Luke’s account of the parable of the ‘four soils’, into which the seed is sown. The seed is a picture of the Word of God. Seeds are full of life and can multiply and reproduce once they are put into the right soil and watered. They have found 300o year-old seeds in Egypt that are so dry and brittle they would just shatter if squeezed hard. Yet when put in soil and watered they burst into life!
Such is the Word of God in a believing heart. Unbelief however, chokes out the Word and leaves us unfruitful.
“He saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe!“ (Mark 5:36)
“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:23)
Will you be like those on the way side, that hear, but then the Devil comes and takes away the Word, replacing it with doubt? (Luke 8:12)
Will you be like those on the rock, that receive the Word with joy – ‘you really want to believe but…’ then succumb to temptation “has God really said?” (Luke 8:13)
Will you be like those among thorns, who have too many interests in this world and can’t really be bothered to find out if this is true? (Luke 8:14)
Or will you be one of the few with an “honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience”! (Luke 8:15)
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” (2 Chron16:9).
May this study stir up your pure minds as you step out in faith with your eyes upon Jesus!