By Mark Ellis, Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (ANS – July 19, 2016) — Jesus demonstrated he is the Son of God (and he is God) by performing powerful miracles throughout his ministry. I don’t know of any other religious figure who could walk on water, command the wind and the waves, heal people born blind, feed 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes, and raise the dead.
In Luke 7, some men sent by John the Baptist came and asked Jesus if he was the Messiah, the one they had been waiting for, and he said:
“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.”
The miracles testified to Jesus’ authority, that he was the promised Messiah. The miracles fulfilled the prophecies about him in the Old Testament. He also healed because of his compassion and he healed in response to faith.
But what would happen after he left? What if there were no more miracles after Jesus ascended to heaven? But that’s not what happened. The miracles didn’t stop. They continued through his disciples – and they continue to this day!
This is a fulfillment of a remarkable statement Jesus made before he left us. He said in John 14, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
When Jesus walked the earth, he was limited to one physical body through which he performed miracles. But after he left, he sent the Holy Spirit to live within all who follow him, and that allows his body to keep performing miracles throughout the world.
He is as alive today as He ever was. And He is still in a sense walking the earth performing miracles through your life and my life.
Example of miracles connected with Peter
When Peter traveled around the churches in Judea and Samaria he happened to visit the town of Lydda, which is near Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport.
“Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed.”
Imagine being paralyzed, not able to leave your bed for eight years! There were no wheelchairs to aid mobility for the disabled. After eight long years that bed probably felt as hard as a rock beneath him. His disease was entirely incurable.
Remember Jesus healed a paralyzed man in Mark 2 who was let down through the roof by four friends. Jesus not only healed his body but also forgave his sins. In John 5 Jesus healed a paralyzed man who sat near the pool of Bethesda for 38 years.
Peter said Aeneas, “’Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.’ And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.”
It’s important to see Peter did not heal the paralyzed man. Peter never claimed to heal anybody. But he said, “Jesus Christ heals you.” Peter was the instrument of his healing power, just as you and I can be instruments of Jesus’ healing power.
Notice that Peter uttered an amazingly faith-filled prayer: “Jesus heals you, get up and make your bed.” I have to admit my prayers are usually not that bold. I ask for healing, believing God has the power to do anything, but I usually don’t declare the healing with such boldness or tell someone in a wheelchair to get out of the wheelchair.
The Scripture teaches there is power in the spoken word of faith. But there are some who carry this to extremes, urging people to speak by faith for whatever they want, the so-called “name it and claim it” movement within Christianity.
So you have some people praying about making a lot of money or driving a Ferrari or having an oceanfront home. An extension of this is to tell people to visualize what they desire, which veers off into the never-never land of metaphysics.
According to Pastor Chuck Smith, “The difference is that when Peter or Paul spoke a word of faith, the Holy Spirit had already revealed to them what the Spirit wanted to do. You and I cannot direct the work of God. They are God’s works; they always begin with him.”
“There may be times when God will direct you to speak a word of faith to someone and have them act upon that word of faith.”
We should find the balance between two extremes, between those who say God never does miraculous healing today and those who say that he always heals – if you have enough faith.
We know that Christians get sick and die. Some of God’s best, faith-filled people go thru periods of illness and pain even when they are at the very center of God’s will.
Not everyone we pray for has a miraculous cure, so this is within God’s control and His sovereignty. Healing of the body is at best temporary, because each of us will pass away at some point.
Three ways God heals
Dr. Harold Sala speaks of three ways God brings healing. First, he can heal supernaturally, miraculously, in only ways he can heal. Secondly, he works thru doctors and medical science, what Dr. Sala calls integrative healing.
But what if you’ve prayed for healing, you’ve been to doctors, tried everything and still you wait and you think, “Why doesn’t he heal me or my loved one?” If you have waited for a long while and you don’t understand God’s character, you may become discouraged, thrown off track in your faith.
Ultimately, we have to rest in God’s character, that He is good all the time, He has his own plan and He knows what is best for our lives. I won’t have all the answers this side of heaven.
But there is a third way God heals, according to Dr. Sala. He heals redemptively, by using your illness or disability to bless the lives of others around you, as you reveal to them the reflection of Jesus shining through your countenance, even in the midst of affliction.
Dr. Sala says the living embodiment of redemptive healing is Joni Eareckson Tada, who was paralyzed from the neck down after a diving accident when she was a teenager. She can say now there are a million reasons she is grateful God did not heal her of her paralysis when she was a teenager.
She says he affliction “stretched her hope, made her know Jesus better, helped her long for truth, led her to repentance of sin, goaded her to give thanks in times of sorrow, increased her faith, and strengthened her character.”
She says, “Being in this wheelchair has meant knowing God better, feeling His pleasure every day.” She says, “If this doesn’t qualify as a miracle in your book, then I prefer my book to yours.”
Yes, God still works in miraculous ways today. Yes, there is power through faith. And he also heals redemptively, by deepening your faith in Him.
I don’t want to be in the position of limiting God. He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think. Jesus can heal you now and save you now as well as if you met him in person, walking along the beach. Jesus is the today as He was yesterday.
The physical miracles in Scripture are also a picture of the spiritual miracle that God wants to perform in everyone. The cool thing is the healing of the spirit is eternal and that is what God really wants. He wants your spirit healed, made alive, and enjoying his presence forever.
There was an awesome result from this miracle. All who lived in Lydda and a neighboring town saw Aeneas walking around, testifying about what Jesus had done, and they believed!
One part of this story I find humorous is Peter instructing Aeneas to get up and make his bed. If I had been paralyzed for eight years, the last thing I would want to do if I had just been healed is to get up and make the bed.
On the one hand it confirmed he really had been healed. But I just wonder if that detail was placed there for the parents of modern teens. It’s a very handy verse to use first thing in the morning: Arise and make your bed!
Modern miracle — healing a paralyzed woman
Is Jesus still healing paralyzed people today? Paul Ai, the founder of Vision Outreach International, was visiting a church in Texas with his wife, Ruth, in 2014.
A woman came to the service, Marie Cribbs, who had been in a wheelchair for four years, unable to walk, due to complications of diabetes, two bouts of breast cancer with chemo, and severe arthritis.
Her whole body degenerated and her husband Bill had become her caregiver. Marie says. “I couldn’t lift my arms or my legs or do anything. My husband had to take care of everything. I was in extreme pain.”
Photo captions: 1) Jesus walks on water. 2) ANS Founder, Dan Wooding, with Pastor Chuck Smith after recording a “Front Page Radio” show with him. 3) Dr. Harold Sala. 4) Mark Ellis.
About the writer: Mark Ellis is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net), and also founder of www.GodReports.com, a website that shares stories, testimonies and videos from the church around the world. He is also co-host for “Windows on the World” with ANS Founder, Dan Wooding, which is aired weeekly on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (http://hsbn.tv).
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