The Bible has a lot to say about God as healer of the sick:
Exodus 23:25 says, “You shall serve the Lord your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you.”
Psalm 103:2-3 says, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases…”
Isaiah 53:5 says “…by His wounds we are healed.”
In addition to these verses, the gospel accounts are littered with examples of Jesus healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, and even raising the dead.
These verses make it clear that our God is a healing God. The One who created the universe and weaved our bodies together knows exactly what ails us and has the power to heal us. And He does heal (when He wills it).
My purpose for this post is to put physical healing in the context of God’s overall purpose for us (the Gospel). Unless we understand this purpose and see healing in its proper context, we might chase after temporary fixes instead of focusing on our much greater problem.
Part of Jesus’ earthly ministry did involve healing the physically sick, but temporary, physical healing dulls in comparison to His purpose to heal humanity’s spiritual sickness (1 Timothy 1:15).
God created humanity to have a relationship with Him. Our sin and rebellion broke that relationship and made it impossible to please Him and live in a right relationship with Him (Isaiah 59:2). If you have ever lied, stolen, had impure sexual thoughts, or loved anything more than God, then you have sinned and fall under God’s judgment. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place and pay the price for our sins, reconciling us to God through Him, filling us with the Holy Spirit and granting us an eternal inheritance in heaven with Him (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, what the Bible says is of “first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:3).
While some take “by his wounds we are healed” in Isaiah 53:5 to mean that Jesus’ death guarantees every believer physical healing, the context (and the rest of Scripture) does not back that up. The Gospel is what Isaiah 53:5 refers to; not a physical healing, but rather the spiritual healing of our souls that were hell-bound because of sin, but can be redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Spiritual healing through the Gospel is so much more important than physical healing anyway, so we should want Isaiah 53:5 to refer to spiritual healing!
If we seek physical healing without spiritual healing, it is like trying to remedy a terminal illness with a Band-Aid. As nifty as Band-Aids might be, they will never be able to cure someone of cancer or heal a gaping wound.
God promises that in heaven there will be no more pain or suffering (Revelation 21:4), and that His children will enjoy eternity with Him. We won’t have to worry about sickness or death any longer.
This is true healing; this is eternal healing. And this is the type of healing Jesus wanted more than anything. Let’s check out Mark 1:29-39 which makes this clear. In this passage, Jesus had just healed Peter’s mother-in-law and many others who were sick or demon possessed who flocked to Him and received healing. The next morning Peter found Jesus praying alone and told Him that, “Everyone is looking for you.”
Word got out about Jesus’ healing ability, and the sick and destitute started lining up for a chance to be healed themselves. You would think that people lining up to see you and be healed is a great ministry opportunity, wouldn’t you? What does Jesus say?
“Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” Mark 1:38
Jesus knows healing is temporary. He knows that everyone He heals will ultimately die regardless of if He heals them or not.
He chooses to seek a more lasting healing through preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom (Mark 1:14-15) and asking people to believe and repent instead of healing more people.
Jesus desired spiritual healing over physical healing because He knew eternal souls are more valuable than temporary physical health.
It is far more important for a soul to be saved than for a body to be healed.
What does this mean for us practically?
1. Preach the gospel.
If you could enter the sick ward at the hospital and offer each patient true healing, would you do it? Christians have this opportunity with the spiritually sick; we can preach the gospel to them and present them the true remedy for their sin problem. Not all will receive Christ, but some will and will receive the spiritual healing that those who believe the gospel receive.
2. Remember the root of sickness and death: sin.
To help us keep a gospel focus instead of a temporal focus when it comes to healing, think about the root cause of sickness and death, sin. Before Adam and Eve sinned in Genesis 3, there was no sickness or death. Sickness and death are the consequences of sin, and the only solution for sin is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
3. Pray eternally focused prayers.
We can have an eternal, gospel-focus in our words to others and still be betrayed by our prayers. I have noticed that many Christians’ prayers (including my own) gravitate to a health-and-wealth, “Lord, help me, I’m sick” or “help me earn more money” prayer rather than, “thank you for saving me” or “help me live with eternity and the gospel in mind” prayer. Let us pray with the Gospel and eternity in mind.
4. Avoid dangerous “faith healers.”
I will not pretend to be an expert on faith healers, or say that all of them are doing the devil’s work (I honestly don’t know). But what I will say is there are a lot of people who twist Scripture and manipulate by promising physical healing. These people often become rich at the expense of the destitute. These men don’t preach the gospel (and so neglect the most important kind of healing). These men don’t visit children’s hospitals to heal the sick—they wait for the lights, cameras, and mass amounts of money to glorify themselves and fund their lavish lifestyles. Let’s take a command from 2 Timothy 3:5 concerning false teachers and “avoid such people.”