Monthly Archives: April 2009
“The general question which arises from the whole account of his healing ministry is, of course, ‘Does he do the same today?’
My own view (and it is no more than that, on a matter where there are such divergent views) is this. Luke presents throughout this whole section a Jesus who utters words of power, and in these particular instances a Jesus who is the Healer of men’s ills. And Jesus is the same today: ‘Thy touch still has ancient power; No word from Thee can fruitless fall.’ But his methods are his own, and not the over-simplified ones his patients would sometimes prescribe for him.
I would therefore make a broad distinction between two methods of healing: not the obvious distinction between the miraculous and the medical, but one which lies deeper than that. Where his object is to be known as the Healer, he works immediately; such cures are, as it were, for the shop-window – the kind of success story which establishes the reputation of a great surgeon or physician. I see no reason why in some circumstances today Jesus may not choose to work in this way and for this purpose. But where he is already known, he may well say to his trusting patient:’I could of course give you immediate relief; but I would rather take the opportunity to do something more far-reaching, which will be to your greater benefit in the long run. You will find it more protracted and perhaps more painful, and you may not understand what I am doing, because I may be treating disorders of which you are yourself unaware.’
He will then set to work to deal with the needs of the whole person, rather than with the obvious needs only. He may aim at a calming of spirit, or a strengthening or courage, or a clarifying of vision, as more important objectives than what we would call healing. Indeed the latter may not be experienced at all in this life, but only at the final ‘saving and raising’ of the sick, when their mortal nature puts on immortality.
For I think it is no accident that each of these two words in James 5 has a double meaning, making them equally applicable to this life and the next: sozoI, to heal, or to save; egeiro, to raise from sickness, or to raise from death. The ‘prayer of faith’ cannot fail to bring about this result, one way or the other. But the faith in which such prayer is prayed must be, not faith that Jesus will heal in some particular way (ie. The way we should advise him to do it!), but faith in Jesus the Healer, who will choose his own timing and method. Then even today his word of power in this respect will amaze onlookers (4:36) and bring other to seek him (4:40).”
Michael Wilcock, The Message of Luke (Leicester: IVP,1978),67-8.
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