When Jesus healed people it was an inside job. Every time He healed someone He was forgiving their sins. The healing was out of His compassion for sure but the external evidence of a healed body was proof to everyone who saw them that God didn’t make them sick. God had already forgiven their sins without any sacrifice or blood or alters. There was no penance or asking for forgiveness or religious repentance. There was a changing of their minds (biblical repentance). They came to Jesus knowing they were sinners but that wouldn’t preclude their healing. In their changed minds they saw their forgiveness in Jesus and knew they would be healed. Here is an explicit example:
Mat 9:1 And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “ This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “ Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven, ’ or to say, ‘ Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he then said to the paralytic — “ Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.(ESVST)
We fallen humans, especially in evangelical fundamentalist circles, are absolutely obsessed with sinning. It is the poison that takes conversations about the goodness of God down a death spiral of convulsions and writhing like a cat being forced into a bathtub. Want to see a demon manifest in real life, right before your eyes? Walk up to pastor-so-and-so from the “First Assembly of the Evangelical We are Right – Penal Substitution Denomination” and say “God is not repulsed by our sin but is actually drawn to it.” Just like the little girl in “The Exorcist,” heads will spin and green stuff will come oozing out of their mouth. Think I am exaggerating? Just read the comments or reviews for any book that remotely suggests God does not punish or torture sinners in hell for all eternity. That is a rabbit hole for another post but I think you are getting the point.
WE, US, MANKIND, FALLEN THINKERS have the problem with sin, NOT God. Let me be clear. God loves His children (which includes everyone ever born) and He wants to see them share His life. He wants us to know Him and trust Him and let Him love us. He doesn’t want to see us hurt by poor choices or rebellion or deception or anything else that leads to horrible consequences. His master plan for our unearthly assurance and inclusion was becoming a man and joining mankind. His master plan to solve the Sin (or lost identity) problem was to join us and live in us and have communion with us. His master plan of unconditional love was to humble Himself to death at the hands of angry sinners so we would know for certain that He loves us and wants to help us. His masterful plan of restoration and redemption and forgiveness and reconciliation was to unconditionally forgive us completely and forget any offense towards Him and never bring it up again as if it never happened, ever. HE KNOWS WE OBSESS OVER OUR SIN BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN HIDING FROM HIM IN SHAME FROM THE MOMENT WE WERE AWARE OF OUR SINNING. He has been running towards us since that same moment and has not stopped for a breath. The cross is proof.
We spend a lot of time at the foot of the cross which is necessary since WE OBSESS OVER SINNING but Jesus is raised again with us in Him as a new creation free from the power of Sin. We can know and embrace our adoption right now and forever more. But I digress again. Before the cross Jesus was also demonstrating the heart of God in His ministry. He makes it very clear that mankind did not know His father or Him. Sadly because of our fallen condition we didn’t know His nature and character. We thought God was an angry violent tyrant surrounded by ledgers of rights and wrongs but instead He is revealed as a loving father who cares for His children. Jesus demonstrates His non-violent nature by dying instead of killing. He also shows us that God is not the imperial heartless judge we mistakenly believed in. Jesus absolutely crushes any thought that our sinning causes God to give us sickness and disease. He heals us to prove it.
Let me show you a few verses that might show where some of the confusion comes from. Check this out:
Exodus 3:7 The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. (ESV)
That sounds wonderful, right? Yay God is coming to the rescue and He did. He brought them out of slavery and into a relationship with Him. It was going to be tough for them. They were not a new creation joined to an incarnate Jesus. They were fallen Adam living in mortal dread of a God they didn’t know. Still God was appealing to them as their “savior.” OK, then the Bible says this:
Exodus 15:26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.” (ESV)
OK, still looking good. Not listening to God and wondering off on their own was a bad idea. It could get them right back into the chains of slavery or worse. Moses remembers the event like this:
Deuteronomy 7:15 The LORD will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you. (ESV)
If I am an Israelite I am pretty happy right now. Then Moses says this (and a whole bunch of other horrific things):
Deuteronomy 28:59 the LORD will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses (ESV)
Now what should we think? One of those devout members of the previously mentioned denomination might think that we nasty little piles of poop deserve nothing less. My response would be “have you met Jesus?” Still are you confused? Is there any doubt that the people of Jesus’ day were confused?
Later the story starts to change:
Isaiah 53:4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. (ESV)
Can you see what is going on? When someone is afflicted they considered them punished by God??? Jesus was not punished by God. Jesus is God as man. And Matthew quotes the same with different words saying Jesus is the suffering servant:
Matthew 8:17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” (ESV)
Without getting all Greek and Hebrew on you, how about I cut to the chase?
Jesus was demonstrating God’s forgiveness when He healed people. He literally took our sickness and bore our diseases by taking our guilt and shame. He healed us from the inside out so that we would stop believing in that distorted and horrific image of God. Based on the previous verses, there is no doubt they were confused and assumed their sickness was a punishment for disobedience or sinning. Jesus clears up the whole thing by healing them. We can’t minimize the connection between sickness and sinning for these people. Their sickness was proof of their sinning, just ask a Pharisee. Their disease was proof of their disobedience, just ask a scribe. Remember Jesus is revealing the truth about God. Jesus is demonstrating the heart of God. For Jesus to heal someone without the legal sacrificial ritual was…what did they call it again…blasphemy! On another occasion they said He was Beelzebub. On another occasion they wanted to stone Him. On another occasion they wanted to push Him off a cliff. On another occasion they beat Him and whipped Him and hung Him on a cross until He was dead. Are you beginning to see?
We still do the same thing today. I’ve prayed for people who were not “church goers” and they will say “I have this condition because God is punishing me for being a bad person.” Then you walk into the doors of the “First Assembly” and they are teaching that nonsense from the pulpit. Yuck! Aren’t we killing Jesus all over again?
Jesus told His disciples, and us, this:
John 20:23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (ESV)
These were some of His parting words for us. Let me suggest that Jesus is still doing an inside job. Let me suggest that of first importance is that people would know the one true God and Jesus Christ. Jesus calls this eternal life. To know Him they have to trust Him and come into relationship with Him. Forgiveness is the first step. They have always been forgiven, just maybe they have never heard it. Just maybe the good news is Jesus took care of every excuse to live in unbelief of a good and loving Father.
What if Jesus has always been demonstrating God’s forgiveness of His children and often He used healing as the proof? What if when we see someone who is hurting physically we begin with making sure they know they are already living in God’s forgiveness and Jesus is living in them? What if we actually believed in God and His goodness and His love to the extent that we never ever again even entertained a thought of His hurting His kids for any reason? What if we knew our Father like Jesus and we knew His forgiveness and we passed it on like Jesus? What if that faith alone was sufficient for all situations? What if we were so convinced of the loving kindness of God and His loving nature and His total acceptance of His children that when encountering sickness or disease or any pain or hurt or any brokenness or addiction or bondage…what if…it fled from the presence of Jesus in us!!! Can you imagine the magnitude and impact of the inside job? Can you even fathom the unearthly peace and ecstatic joy when someone experiences the effects of the inside job?
Yeah, that sounds like healing to me. That sounds like what Jesus did when He was with us in person. It sounds like what He is still doing in us and through us today. So I say we let Him do the inside job.