Why Did Jesus Heal?

Luke 4:40 Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.

Even a quick reading of the Gospels will give a solid sense of how important healing was in the ministry of Jesus. There was hardly an event when Jesus didn’t heal someone. While there have been sporadic reports of healing throughout history these all faint when measured beside the healing ministry of Jesus.

Some of these events recorded in the Bible are so prolific, like the one in this passage, that they could only be compared to someone emptying a city hospital by healing every person in it. That’s what Mark and Luke said Jesus did in this city: he healed every person in the city who came to be healed… and the passage in Mark said that “all the city was gathered together at the door.” It must be noted that He mostly healed Jews.

This was unlike any modern faith healing event. The first church I pastored was in a suburb of Tulsa, Oklahoma. This was in the day when “faith-healers” Oral Roberts and Kenneth Hagan, both residents of Tulsa, were active. Each had his own school devoted to teaching, among other things, “faith-healing”. I was a Hospital and Senior Police Chaplain in the area which gave me a lot of interaction with their followers. And I also personally observed a few meetings hosted by these men. There was always someone present in these meetings who testified to being healed, but I never saw even one of the ever present severely handicapped attendees healed. But... Jesus healed everyone including the maimed (see the blog post Maimed.)

The question arises, “Why did Jesus heal?” Well a simple answer might be: “He was a caring person”, or “It was prophesied that He would do this.” Both answers are true… but very incomplete. The answer is found in the covenant roots of the Jews. Specifically the covenant given from God through Moses, then agreed to by the children of Israel as recorded in the Old Testament.

This was a conditional covenant, which means the children of Israel agreed to obey God in everything He required in order to receive specific benefits. Exodus 19:1-8 But… if they failed in their commitment there was an awful price to pay. The price of breaking their agreement was described in Deuteronomy 28:15-68. Included in the dreadful punishments were serious painful diseases and violence.

By the time of Jesus Christ the Jews had already experienced a long history of failure in their covenant obligations and were reaping a terrible price for breaking their agreement. The illnesses described in Deuteronomy would have been full blown in Israel. The people were suffering.

Jesus Christ came to lift the punishment of the old covenant and place His followers under a new better covenant based on the grace of God found in the Gospel. Jesus' ministry of healing was a gospel ministry and witness to Jews.

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