Today's post is by guest writer Keith Ward
A few questions:
Why did Jesus so often say, “Thy sins be forgiven thee” instead of, “Your disease be healed?” Why did he not heal everyone? Not only did he leave many for the apostles to heal, there is no indication they cleaned up all the rest, even in Judea.
Of course, one of the reasons he said “sins…forgiven” was to emphasize to the scribes and Pharisees that if he could heal, he could forgive. Certainly, since he healed one leper, he had the power with a word to heal all lepers, or to heal all the blind. The power was there. The compassion that moved him to heal had to also tug at his heart in relation to all the un-healed lame and sick.
The questions bring our focus to the simple truth that sickness/infirmity was not the problem; sin was. The compassion was moved within him to bypass these small things and focus on healing the root, the cause of all the misery that comes on man. Healing the few he did was a pledge toward the healing of sin.
Sickness is really a part of death. Healing is life triumphant, but Lazarus, the blind man, the 10 lepers, all still died. Because Jesus is the great physician, death is destroyed (1 Cor 15:50ff) and we are all healed of death, not merely of a symptom like disease, and we will all be raised.
So, the last question: What occupies the bulk of your prayer time? A list of sick church members and friends? Or, a list of sins and sin-sick souls? I think my answer leaves me on the wrong side here.
Yes, I know the prayer of faith will heal the sick and I am by no means suggesting that any of us diminish that part of our prayer life. I am thinking that I am going to greatly increase the part of mine that focuses on sin and the healing of sin and death.
Notice how great a portion of Jesus’ last prayer for the disciples was in relation to their spiritual safety and triumph:
I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. (Jn 17:9-15).