Healing, Health and the Ultimate Hope
When ad after ad tells us to ask our doctors if something “is right for you,” it is refreshing to examine what the Bible says about healing and the correlation between physical and emotional health.
Some people in the Scriptures were healed supernaturally:
And the king said to the man of God, “Entreat now the favor of the Lord your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.” And the man of God entreated the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored to him and became as it was before. (1 Kings 13:6)
Jesus’ healings were usually of this kind: “And [Jesus] said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored” (Mark 3:5).
Some were raised from the dead: The Old Testament prophet Elisha raised a young boy who had died (2 Kings 4:32–35). So did Jesus:
Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. (Luke 7:14-15)
Healing sometimes took place through the medications of that time: “Now Isaiah had said, ‘Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil, that he may recover’” (Isaiah 38:21). Other times illnesses took their natural course until the person recovered: “If there is in the skin of one’s body a boil and it heals… ” (Leviticus 13:18).
Then there is the “Good Samaritan” of Luke’s Gospel in the New Testament: “But a certain Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him, and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them” (Luke 10:33–34).
The mind-body connection
It was known that healing the body could be connected with mental and spiritual health, as is well established today. The book of Proverbs says, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:7–8). Proverbs goes on to link the physical with the emotional: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). And, “The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones” (Proverbs 15:30).
Jesus and healing
Jesus healed a great variety of ailments:
- blindness: “Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly” (Mark 8:25).
- deafness and muteness: “And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’ And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly” (Mark 7:34–35).
- inability to walk: “Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.’ And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked (John 5:8-9).
Common Jewish understanding forbade healing on the Sabbath, seeing it as a form of work. But Jesus said that compassion overrides the boundaries we set up (Luke 13:10–16).
Does God heal today?
As the story of the Fruchtmans demonstrates, God does indeed heal today. Yet there are many who are not healed, regardless of their faith or their prayers.
The Apostle Paul’s advice to his protégé Timothy was: “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1 Timothy 5:23). Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7), usually thought to be some disease or ongoing medical condition, to which Paul attributed the virtue of keeping him from “becoming conceited”!
Luke, one of authors of the New Testament, whose narrative included Jesus’ healing miracles, was a medical doctor. Luke saw no contradiction between the need people had of his own services and Jesus’ ability to heal miraculously.
The Scriptures speak of God as the author of all healing, whether directly by supernatural intervention or indirectly through medicinal means: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:2–3). This doesn’t mean that God will heal every disease of every person, but that when healing does take place, we recognize the hand of God behind it.
Jesus primarily came to deal with our spiritual sickness: to make atonement for our sins. One of the great biblical chapters about the Messiah, Isaiah 53, speaks about someone who would die as a “sin offering” and tells us that “with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:10, 5). The Gospel of Matthew understands Jesus’ healing ministry to fulfill the words of Isaiah 53:4: “And he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took our illnesses and bore our diseases’ ” (Matthew 8:16–17).
When God created the universe, it was an idyllic place. But, as we read the account of Adam and Eve turning away from God, we see that sin entered the world. Disease and brokenness were results of what has become known as the fall.
Yet God brought us Messiah to fix it. He will restore things to the way they were meant to be. The time is coming when disease will no longer exist and all will be made new. In that day, promises the prophet Malachi, “the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings” (Malachi 4:2) – a beautiful image of the ultimate hope of God’s people who trust in Him and His Messiah.