Healing the Sick Today
THE BIG IDEA: The New Testament church experienced many signs and wonders, which resulted in many people coming to faith in Jesus. Because the early church is our blueprint, we need to contend for signs and wonders to be restored today.
“It is abnormal for a Christian not to have an appetite for the impossible. It has been written into our spiritual DNA to hunger for the impossibilities around us to bow at the name of Jesus.” (Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth).[i]
Aren’t you glad that we serve a living God? Can you imagine how depressed and miserable you would be if the god you served was some dumb, fat-bellied, metal statue? You could talk to it until your tongue fell out, but it would never talk back to you. It would never touch you, and it would never encourage you, bless you or heal you. The God who created this universe, the God who spoke the worlds into existence, is still on the throne, and He desires to be actively involved in the lives of those who belong to Him. He created us, and He sent His son Jesus to die for us so we could know Him and receive His life today.
The Book of Acts records what the early church did with the Great Commission of Jesus. As believers today, we can’t invent our own ideas about church. We must go back to the blueprint of what the church o fJesus Christ is supposed to be. Let’s take a look at a story in Acts Chapter Three – a day in the life of the early church.
“Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.” (Acts 3:1).
Notice where we find Peter and John here – they were on their way to church. They weren’t going to a Sunday morning service. They weren’t going for the praise and worship. They weren’t going for the preaching. They were going to church to pray. The believers in the book of Acts were committed to prayer. If we want to see the same signs and wonders and healings and miracles that the early church saw, we need to do the same things that they did to get what they had. What did they do to get what they had? They prayed. They prayed continually.
Look at some of the powerful things that Peter and John wrote on the topic of prayer: Peter taught us to “cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). John wrote, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” (1John 5:14-15). Both Peter and John were convinced of the power of prayer and because of that, they were men who prayed.
We Need to Have Eyes to See:
“And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” (Acts 3:2-4).
We know from Acts 4:22 that this man had been sick for over forty years. Can you imagine? Forty years in that condition. He had been crippled his whole life. He couldn’t walk and he couldn’t get a job, so what did he do? His friends carried him to the gate of the church every day so he could beg for money. But God had a plan for this man. Here were two ordinary fishermen – that’s who they were before Jesus got hold of their lives – just two regular guys going to church. But the Bible says that they fixed their eyes on this man. This part of the story is significant. Peter and John were going to church. On the way, they saw someone – a crippled man by the roadside. They could have done what many people do every day. They could have walked on by this man, pretending they didn’t see him. How many times do we do the same thing? We’re in our workplace or we’re walking down the street, and we see someone who’s in trouble. We see someone who’s hurting. We see someone who’s sick. But do we do anything? Peter and John were following the example of Jesus who said, “I must be about my Father’s business.”
If we want to become the glorious church that God has called us to be, we need to have eyes to see the hurting around us. When we see those who are lost or broken, we cannot just walk on by. We need to be like Jesus who had eyes to see the harvest around Him.
“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38).
Jesus saw the crowds of people, and He was moved with compassion for them. When He saw the hurting and broken people, He didn’t just sit back and say, “Aw, too bad for them.” He said, “I must do something about this!” Compassion – loving, caring concern for people – was what motivated Jesus to do something. The harvest of lost souls is great; lost souls who have never heard the Good News that there is a God who loves them. And there are only a few workers who are willing to stand up and say, “Here am I, Lord, send me.” Jesus told us to pray for more workers for the harvest.
There are so many people in the world today who are lost and hurting. They have no hope and no peace because they are without God. The Lord has placed us strategically in the neighborhoods and cities and towns where we live. There is a circle of people around us that He wants us to reach.
Sometimes Christians think that the reason people stay outside of the community of faith is because they don’t care about God, and they don’t want to hear the Good News. But the Bible says, “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”How can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? How can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? How can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:13-15, nlt). We need to lift up our eyes to see the harvest, and share the Good News with them.
An Attitude of Expectancy:
As these men of God walked by, the crippled man’s posture changed – he took on an attitude of expectancy. “The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting a gift” (nlt). The man didn’t sit back and say, “Who do these preachers think they are? I’m not interested.” No! When Peter and John came by, he “gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them” (Acts 3:5). One of the things we see over and over again in the Gospels is whenever people came to Jesus to be healed, there was faith. The people believed He had the power to change their lives. Look at these examples:
Matthew 9:1-2,6b-7: “So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you” …He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house.”
Matthew 9:20-22: “And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.”
Matthew 9:27-29: “When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.”
The crippled man gave Peter and John his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter spoke one of my favorite lines in the whole Bible: “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:6).
Do you know what you have?
When Peter saw this man, he didn’t walk by and say, “Oh, that’s too bad, there’s a little crippled old man, maybe I’ll give him a little coin to help him make it through another day.” Peter said, “I don’t have money, but what I do have, I’m going to give to you.” Peter knew he had something. Before we are going to make a difference in our world, we need to know what we have. We have to know what we believe. We need to be able to declare in faith, “Jesus, I believe that you are the Healer. I believe that because you have sent me out in your name, I too will be able to lay hands on the sick and see them recover. You are a faithful, promise keeping God.” We need to know in whom we have believed. Peter didn’t say, “Oh, I hope something happens today. I’ll just pray for you, but I don’t really know if anything’s going to happen, because God’s so mysterious, you never know what God’s going to do.” No. Peter knew the authority Jesus had given to him. Jesus had said, “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:7-8). Peter knew he had received something and therefore, he had something to give.
Do you know what you have today? Do you know about the treasure you have in an earthen vessel? For too long the church has allowed the treasure to stay buried treasure. The Holy Spirit lives inside you! If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give you life. If only we believed this.
Do you believe that you have Christ in you, the hope of glory? That word Christ doesn’t just refer to Jesus personally. The word Christ also means the anointing of God – the very presence of the living God. Christ – the anointed one and His anointing – inside of us is the hope that our world is looking for. It’s time to stop letting this treasure be buried treasure, and let “X” mark the spot. Let what’s on the inside of us come out. That’s what Peter did on the day he met this crippled man. Remember, God has blessed us… to be a blessing.
[i] Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. (Treasure House, 2005).