–2 Kings 5:15
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
In yesterday’s morning meditation I asked, “Why was Jesus resurrected from the dead but his wounds were not healed?” This question was part of Aaron Eby’s presentation Turn of the Age at the First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) annual Shavuot conference. This year’s theme, as I’ve previously mentioned, was Gifts of the Spirit and addresses something that Messianic Judaism hasn’t given a lot of attention to historically: the understanding and movement of the Holy Spirit of God in Jewish thought.
As far as the purpose of the miracles of Jesus goes, you’ve probably already guessed, since I provided ample hints. According to Eby, “the reason for Yeshua’s miracles was so that people would know God.”
Think about it. It’s not as if only prophets of God or the Messiah could perform supernatural miracles.
So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents.
So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fees for divination in their hand. And they came to Balaam and gave him Balak’s message. And he said to them, “Lodge here tonight, and I will bring back word to you, as the Lord speaks to me.” So the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam. And God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?” And Balaam said to God, “Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent to me, saying, ‘Behold, a people has come out of Egypt, and it covers the face of the earth. Now come, curse them for me. Perhaps I shall be able to fight against them and drive them out.’” God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.”
But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic.
As we see from the above-examples, miracles all by themselves don’t prove you’re a messenger from God. Plenty of evil men could do magic and Balaam was not only a great magician, but he even spoke with God!
But it wasn’t just that Jesus did miracles. Many (but not all) of the miracles of Messiah were signs, not only to fulfill what the Prophets had said about him, but to show the people that God cared about human beings.
Several weeks ago, I reviewed D. Thomas Lancaster’s book The Sabbath Breaker: Jesus of Nazareth and The Gospels’ Sabbath Conflicts. Lancaster illustrates in his writing how Jesus did indeed perform miracles of healing on the Shabbat which did not involve life threatening injuries or illness. While this is a violation of Shabbat on one level, the higher principle of compassion and caring for human beings made this permissible. After all, “the Shabbat was made for man, not man for the Shabbat.”
So the specifics of Yeshua’s miracles were to fulfill the prophesies said about Messiah and to show that God does love His people Israel and seeks to draw them closer to knowledge of Him and the Kingdom of Heaven.
Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
According to Eby, “healing corresponds to God’s self-disclosure.” But how?
May the One who was a source of blessing for our ancestors, bring blessings of healing upon (insert names here), a healing of body and a healing of spirit. May those in whose care they are entrusted be gifted with wisdom and skill, and those who surround them be gifted with love and trust, openness and support in their care. And may they be healed along with all those who are in need. Blessed are You, Source of healing.
quoted from Jewishealing.com
It’s probably anachronistic to insert this modern Jewish blessing for “a complete healing from Heaven” into a discussion of the healing miracles of Jesus, but the principle most likely predated the written blessing by centuries or even millennia. If you’ll forgive my assumption here, we can then consider healing as both physical and spiritual and indeed, when someone is healed in one aspect, the healing can be for the “whole” person.
On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
Today, it’s not uncommon in some Charismatic churches to lay hands on a person who is ill, to pour oil on them, and to pray for healing, but as far as I can tell, this is rather incomplete if all of the prayers are devoted to the person’s physical healing. When Jesus healed the invalid at the Bethesda pool at the Sheep Gate (John 5:2-9), he later, at the Temple, said to the healed man, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” (John 5:14 NRSV)
I don’t think we can escape how healing is directly connected to restoring a person to both physical and spiritual health.
This is certainly God’s desire for all of humanity and what we see Jesus doing to heal people in the Gospels is only a taste of what we will see and experience in the Messianic Age. It’s as if with each healing and every other miracle Messiah performed, he was lifting back the edge of the covers, so to speak, and showing us just a hint of how the world will be when he returns in glory and power.
But what about the healing of Jesus himself? Why when he was resurrected in his “glorified body” was that body still full of holes?
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
–John 20-19-20 (NRSV)
If Jesus had appeared without his wounds, it could have been said that the one who was resurrected was not the same person as the one who had died. By appearing alive to the disciples and to many other people with his wounds present and visible, it was established that the Jesus who had died was brought back to life, lived and walked among his people Israel, and was the same Jesus who ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father.
Thus we have the confidence to know that we have a High Priest in the Heavenly Court who has also walked among men and who has lived a fully human life.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
I’m extending Eby’s teaching beyond what he actually said, but I do this to share with you what his words meant to me and how they impacted my thoughts and spirit rather than to just transcribe his presentation. For everything he and all of the other teachers said, you will be able to order an audio CD from First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) when it becomes available.
But Aaron said something that ties into his message as I recorded it in yesterday’s morning meditation.
As we read of the miracles of Jesus and indeed, the many other miracles that are from God, we can come to know God as Naaman the Syrian did, that there is no other God but the God of Israel. We can then seek first the Kingdom of Heaven as an act of obedience to our King and to summon his return to us and the age of the healing of the world.
First, by having faith and trust in the God of the Bible and the Good News of the Messiah for all of Israel and the world. Then we must also be loyal to the King by adhering to his teachings and living an unswerving life of devotion and holiness. This life is lived by performing the mitzvot, each of us as we are called, the Jew and also the Gentile, repairing the damage done by the sins that caused the exile, first of all humanity from Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden), and also of the Jews from the Holy Land of Israel. And what mitzvot are we to perform?
One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.
–Mark 12:28-34 (NRSV)
Love God. Love your neighbor. Heal the world physically and spiritually. Pray for the healing of Israel. Pray for the healing between Christian and Jewish people.
May the Messiah come soon and in our day.