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Day One: On Jesus and Healing
Jesus begins his ministry—and starts with a splash. He starts by saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of God, or heaven (here in Matthew), is near.” The kingship of God, which is perfectly expressed in heaven, is now near to you, on earth, within touching distance. And Jesus says an internal change is needed, an internal reorientation. Repent is the Greek word metanoia—a change and turning around of our inner life/heart and mind—so it’s facing a new direction.
Then Jesus starts to demonstrate and enact the kingdom. He calls some students, as a teacher he calls them disciples, and he wants them to learn from him and become people of his way. He wants them to be recipients of his kingdom and to become instruments of his kingdom, too.
And then Jesus demonstrates what heaven is really like.
Will heaven have sickness? Absolutely not. Will heaven have suffering? No. Will heaven have sadness? No. Will Satan be present in heaven in any way? No, he won’t.
So, as Jesus brings the kingdom of heaven to bear here on earth, he reveals to us the future that he’s opening to us.
We are going to be dealing with the regular struggles of life, the ordinary difficult circumstances, but in the midst of the ordinary there’s going to be the extraordinary. In the midst of the natural, there’s going to be the supernatural. And in the midst of our world, the world to come will be seen.
Isn’t that marvelous? The kingdom of heaven has come to this world in the person of Jesus. Now it’s always a now-and-not-yet. This is not the full consummation of the kingdom of heaven here on earth. This is a foretaste of the kingdom of heaven here on earth.
It’s like the windows of heaven are open and we can see into the future God has for us—a remaking and new creation that we now have the foretaste of.
And as we wait for God’s future to fully come to this world, we are encouraged along the way by these glimpses we have into the way things are in heaven. Every time someone experiences healing it is a glimpse into God’s beautiful future.
Day Two: The Windows of Heaven
THE NOW—NOT YET/ALREADY—NOT YET
It’s true. All the people Jesus healed later died. All of the people that he blessed and touched still fell under the realities of a fallen world. Even Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead, died later. Healing now is just a window to the future.
But here’s the thing, those windows are still open today. The recipient of the kingdom of heaven can also become the instrument of God’s kingdom. And so, when Jesus turns our sadness to joy, our sickness into healing, our sin into forgiveness and wholeness, we go from being recipients to also being instruments of his kingdom.
He introduces his disciples to his work, which he wants to become their work. And this work is introducing the world to the message of the now-not-yet. The not-yet that tells the world that heaven is waiting for us. And this world is not all that we can hope for. There is something far greater to come.
But more than that, it’s also right now! We see the foretaste of heaven today. We see sins forgiven today. We see sadness transformed now. And it’s right now that God does healing of sickness in our lives.
So, what is it you want to see happen in your life? What is it you want to see as his kingdom comes? How is the Lord calling you to reorient yourself and redirect your inner life?
For the sick, for anyone chronically sick, for anyone in pain, we can pray this very day (or night) for healing. And God pours out healing from the open windows of heaven and what we long for in the future comes to visit us today by God’s Spirit. And we are able to experience God’s glorious healing in our hearts, minds, and bodies today.
Because we know that Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us, so he is with us today. And if Jesus is here, healing has come with him.
Day Three: "I Was Sick, and You Cared for Me." - Jesus
In Matthew 25:36, Jesus says, “I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.” (NLT)
Read that again carefully. Notice the phrase “I was sick—and you cared for me,” which is not the same as saying, “I was sick, and you healed me.” Jesus is the healer, but people do not always experience healing. Our Christian spirituality needs to mature so that we can care for the sick when they are not healed.
Jesus heals. We believe this wholeheartedly. One of the things we need to keep in mind is that alongside a robust belief that God indeed heals, we need to develop a broader understanding of how he heals. For instance, healing also includes how God is using something in our lives and the lives of people around us.
Our understanding of healing needs to include how God has used, and is using, our lives to bear witness to his glory. We need to pray boldly for healing, but also be sensitive to the ways in which people who are suffering (sometimes with disabilities) live with their disabilities.
And we need to pray with appropriate expectations. We need to find ways to pray and talk about healing theologically so that when a person leaves our prayer for healing they won’t feel negatively about not experiencing a traditional type of healing they may have expected. So, we need to find more expansive terms and approaches in which to talk about and pray for God’s healing in our lives.
ALSO, we need to practice good theology. God does not withhold healing in someone’s life because of unconfessed sin. Of course, humanity’s sinful ways have brought dire consequences, but God’s ways are not always known to us.
Jesus has made it plain in scripture that healing is one of the good gifts the Father loves to give to his children. We want to help people give their guilt to the Lord, process their shame in light of the Gospel of Jesus, and not to ever feel as though Jesus withholds healing because of the missteps they’ve made along life’s journey.
Day Four: Ministering to the People Who Are Suffering
HOW MIGHT GOD’S GLORY BE DISPLAYED IN AFFLICTION?
So, HOW do we minister to people in their suffering? We want to be there for people, and we often want to fix their suffering. We want to make them well. But, of course, this is often not in our power.
So, as Christ followers, we commit to pray. And this is a really good thing, because what isn’t in our power is in Jesus’ power. But sometimes we have a very limited vocabulary in terms of what we pray for a friend who is suffering.
And it can tend to be that the only thing we know how to pray is for God to take the suffering away—and that’s a good way to pray—but we shouldn’t limit our prayers in a way that forgets God intends to use suffering in our lives for his good purposes.
So, we should also pray God accomplishes something good in our friend who’s suffering. We can pray for health to be restored, but also, we can pray that the works of God would be displayed in our friend’s life.
Even to have joy, or peace, or trust in the midst of suffering is a miracle in itself.
In the New Testament, in the first chapter of James, it says various trials will help us become spiritually mature. Troubles will come.
Perseverance leads to hope. And putting hope and confidence in Jesus amidst suffering is how God grows us up and takes our roots down deeper in God, so our lives will flourish in him.
Day Five: New Testament Scriptures to PonderVERSES TO READ AND REFLECT ON
And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. – Matthew 4:23
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. – Matthew 10:1
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Mark 2:17
He [Jesus] said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” – Mark 5:34
And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. – Luke 5:17
“Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” – Luke 10:9
And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. – Luke 13:13
“While you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant, Jesus.” – Acts 4:30
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. – Acts 10:38
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. – James 5:14-15
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. – James 5:16
He personally bore our sins in his [own] body on the tree [as on an altar and offered himself on it], that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. – 1 Peter 2:24
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. – 3 John 1:2
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