On a number of occasions when Jesus healed a person He began by saying, “your sins are forgiven”. He knew that healing begins on the inside. For a person to be whole it must include spirit and soul, as well as body. We, too often, only look at the outside need. Take this away, Get rid of that, Heal this diseases . Certainly, these are important. But the necessity for inward healing is the reason why Jesus died on the cross, and didn’t take over the throne of Rome, as many wanted Him to do. He could have displaced the political leaders and ushered in a new government of justice for all people, but there would still have been angry disputes among neighbors, envy, and covertness among people, fornication and adultery, and all the other evils that come from a corrupted heart. The cross has to be Jesus’ ultimate throne, and His crown woven of thorns. Only His atoning sacrifice that removed our sin caused separation from God could be the means of our true healing. We do pray for outward physical healing, and change in other bad physical conditions of life, but the greatest healing is always the one we find at the foot of the cross.
A friend of ours, for whom our church has been praying, is undergoing a life saving heart operation today. We pray for wisdom and guidance for the doctors, for peace and strength for her husband, and for complete healing from her condition. It is a frightening time when one is facing the possibility of death. We look in hope to the medical profession, and the mercy and grace of our God. That is also what this week is about. All of us, no matter how fit we are, have a serious heart condition that does lead to death. We are by nature sinful and separated from God, and that is spiritual death. We are in desperate need of intervention by a wisdom and power beyond ourselves. Jesus is that intervention. He provided the full healing power necessary to repair our diseased hearts. We have the assurance that, through faith in Him, our hearts have been healed. He has take our sin and given us His righteousness. He has taken our death and given us life. This couple, for whom we are praying, believes that deeply. They, as we, very much want to see a good physical result from this operation. but above all we know that in Jesus, death has been overcome, and we do have life and hope in Him.
I read an article last night about mission work in one of the poorest African countries. The works of feeding and caring for people are accompanied by evangelism, worship, and prayer. The work also attests to many miracles of healing, which have been independently verified. One visiting evangelist compared the work there to that in Canada and the U.S. He remarked that he had seen a few healing miracles in these countries, but in this African ministry people were heal almost 100% of the time through prayer. I had also heard this, some years ago, about ministry in an Asian country. We always have many questions about this, but I think the contrast does point to the fact that we are too sophisticated, too educated, too skeptical to accept anything on simple faith. It is what Jesus found when He tried to minister in His home town, and “could not do any miracles.”(Mark 6:5) Jesus invites us to use our faith, even as small as a mustard seed, and not block it with our sophistication.
Our microwave oven went up. Who knows why?!! It wasn’t all that old, but it just quit between heating my morning coffee and the leftovers for lunch. I even took the cover off and looked inside, which of course the manual tells you not to do, but I did it anyway. Nothing burned, nothing obvious. So there it sits. The problem is we are in a day of throw away appliances. It cost more to take it somewhere for repairs than it does for a new one. Now it is ready for the trash. Very fortunately, God did not make people that way. We break down all the time, in health, in doing what we are not supposed to do, in missing opportunities we should have met. In God’s healing, patience, forgiveness and love, He repairs us, and starts us over again. God does not choose to throw away anyone. In Him, new life is always available. And best of all, it is free.
Repentance is healing surgery. When someone is operated on for cancer, we want to hear the surgeon say, “We got it all.” There is the concern that if a little is left it can spread again. Sin is the cancer of the soul. Repentance is the healing knife. When one repents, he is first aware of the seriousness of a problem. He has to acknowledge that this sin, even if he think it is small, is separation from God, and leading to death. He must humbly submit himself in repentance before the cross. When it is treated as “not so bad …. many people do worse thing …. God is love, He understands … everybody does it,” or any of the other excuses we like to use, the sin cancer remains, and ultimately gets worse. But “if we confess our sins, Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9) Then God says to us, “We got it all.”