“Whether God uses means (e.g. Doctors, medication, etc) or not, it is God who heals.” This passing comment in a Sunday School lesson years ago still sticks in my mind because of the discussion which followed. Discussion of the miraculous gifts among Christ followers seems to generate significant ‘sharing.’ Hopefully there’s as much ‘light’ as there is ‘heat’ in the room as we explore this topic!
In Mark 1:29-32 the healing power of God’s Spirit was evidenced through Jesus, the Messiah. Miracles don’t prove the claims of deity, that Jesus was God. If they did, you’d have to describe Elisha, Peter, Paul and others as God. In Acts 10:38, Peter explains to Cornelius that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” The Father ‘credentialed’ Jesus (the Messiah) not only with announcing – “This is my beloved Son,” but also through miraculous signs.
In Mark’s account, Jesus leaves the synagogue and heads to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s (Peter) mother-in-law was in bed with a fever. Peter was obviously married and since he had become a new follower of the Messiah, he included his family’s health concerns in his new found faith. There’s a principle here, isn’t there? As we encounter Christ, we want his involvement in all of our life, the sorrows and the joys, the trials and the triumphs.
Word of this healing must have spread, because the setting sun launched a busy evening with the entire town of Capernaum gathering at the door with a multitude of sick individuals. What were people thinking as Jesus healed them? What impact did these healings have on their faith? Did any become followers, or did they just return to their old ways even after experiencing the power of God?
Mark distinguishes between sickness and demon possession. The two are not synonymous, but we are reminded once again that we are not only physical but spiritual beings. Not all illness is traceable to a demonic ’cause,’ but demon possession requires deliverance with the power of God. Jesus restrains the demons from their ‘publicity,’ even though they ‘knew who he was.’
What are we to learn about healing from this text? Who are we ‘telling Jesus’ about as we pray? What are we asking God to do for those who suffer? Is healing assured for all who ask? Is a lack of healing evidence of a lack of faith?
These two paragraphs (v.29-31 and v.32-34) strengthen our understanding of who Jesus Christ is, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Messiah, the Lord. They don’t answer all our questions, but they remind us of the care of God, through his Son, for those who whose lives have been altered by the impact of physical and spiritual sickness.