Luke 5:17 "One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing."
In the four gospels we see Jesus performing roughly 35 miracles, many of which were physical healing. When studying either the Gospels, the Book of Acts or New Testament letters, an interesting question arises: what is the nature of physical healing? Recently I was asked some questions about physical healing and took the person to Luke 5:17-26, which gives one of the clearest accounts of the ingredients and pattern of physical healing in the Bible. In today's post we are going to consider three essential elements of physical healing: Power of God, Presence of faith and the Purpose of God.
1. The Power of God to heal. Luke 5:17
The scripture plainly tells us in Luke 5:17 that "the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing." Whenever there are prayers offered up on the behalf of sick people, the one thing we should never doubt is God's ability to heal. In order for any healing to take place, God's power has to be present. Even though Jesus Christ was and is God in human flesh, he chose to submit Himself to the will of His Father. God's power to heal was present and the text tells us there was a second crucial element present, namely the presence of faith.
2. The presence of faith to receive healing. Luke 5:18-20, 25
Luke 5:20 states - "Seeing their faith, He said,“Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Earlier in the account some people had brought this paralyzed man on a stretcher to a house where Jesus had been teaching some crowds. The crowds were so thick that the friends of the man could not bring him through to where Jesus was. So by their effort they hoisted the man upon the roof of the house, undoubtedly broke through the roof and lowered the man on the stretcher down to where Jesus was teaching. (Luke 5:18-19) Jesus saw their faith and the faith of the paralyzed man and forgave his sin and healed his disease. (Luke 5:25)
God's purpose, not the presence of faith, is the determining factor in healing
Now here is a question: was the man's faith the reason for his healing? This is a very important question because I am sure you have heard it said by some people that the reason why people don't get healed is for lack of faith. Let me say right up front that the amount of faith has nothing to do with whether or not you get physical healing. Faith certainly is needed to receive healing, however the presence of faith alone does not mean that you or I will get healed. The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:1-9 was afflicted by a thorn in the flesh or "messenger from satan" after he had witnessed a series of visions in the third heaven. Paul relates how he asked God three times to deliver him from the demonically inflicted ailment. But the Lord told Him in 2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
If we were to really believe that the amount of one's faith was alone responsible for physical healing, then we would have to conclude Paul had no faith - which would be ridiculous at best! God's power to heal is never at issue, however God may have another purpose in mind. The presence of faith, though necessary to receive healing, is not the decisive factor as to why people get healed or do not get healed. So then that leads us to the third element involved in physical healing: God's purpose.
3. The purpose of God decides whether people are physically healed. Luke 5:21-26
Jesus says in Luke 5:24 But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,”—He said to the paralytic—“I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.” I underlined the phrase "so that" in the passage to show Jesus' point: namely the purpose for why the man got healed. Anytime you see the phrase "so that" in the Bible, it speaks of purpose. God had a purpose in this episode - to demonstrate Jesus' inherent ability to forgive sins. (Luke 5:24) Miracles of physical healing are designed to point to spiritual realities that are connected to God's character and saving purpose. God's purpose was present to heal as well as His power.
What would had happened if God had chosen not to heal the man? Would the man's faith, great as it was, brought about the healing? No.
Faith in an of itself is a receiving grace. God's purpose is the decisive factor. Again I have heard many well-meaning people and Bible teachers misguidedly say that it is always God's purpose to heal. Really? If that were the case then obviously everyone would get healed that we pray for. However, is physical healing always the greatest purpose? Only God can make that determination. In the instance of this man, it was God's purpose, however in the case of Paul's ailment in 2 Corinthians 12, it was not. God used Paul's frailties to accomplish great things for the kingdom.
Today we have looked at the subject of physical healing and have considered three essential elements: Power of God, Presence of faith and the Purpose of God. We have seen that God's power to heal is never in question. Furthermore, the presence of faith is necessary to receive the healing, however faith by itself is not the decisive factor. The third element of God's purpose is the decisive factor in healing. People who do not experience physical healing, even after much prayer, must remember that it is not due to the amount of faith, or lack thereof, but rather the purpose of God. If anything, God's power to sustain the person in the illness can position that person to be used greatly by Him to bear witness to others about Jesus.