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Tuesday
Mar112014

The True Jesus: Authority To Heal

We ended Luke chapter 6 with the issue of whether or not Jesus really is our master.  If he is our master then we will live our life as His teachings direct.  Chapter 7 then starts with may at first appear to just be another healing story.  Don’t get me wrong.  Jesus does heal someone.  But, there is more being taught here than that Jesus could heal.

Jesus was not just a so-called “healer” who was somehow operating slightly above the level of a snake-oil salesman.  Neither was he a complete fake who was feeding off of the gullibility of a backward people.  People have always been gullible.  But it is in accounts such as these, that we see aspects that demonstrate that Jesus wasn’t a charlatan.  Here we see that Jesus demonstrating that he is Lord of creation and has the authority to command healing at will.  This may bring up the question of why He doesn’t then do more commanding of miracles.  Let’s look at the passage and establish His authority first.

The Request Of Intercession

In verses 1-7 we see that this is initiated by others coming up to Jesus in a city of northern Israel called Capernaum.  Rome had troops stationed throughout all of Israel and Capernaum was no exception.  A centurion would be an officer in charge of up to 100 men.  So there is no reason to expect some kind of collusion between him and Jesus.  This centurion has demonstrated a love for the Jewish people but we are not told his religious “status” with the rabbis of Israel.  Is he a convert, a proselyte, or just generous?  Whatever his status he paid enough attention to what was going on in Israel that he had heard of Jesus.  When a servant that was very dear to him was about to die, the centurion does what he can to find Jesus and ask him to heal the servant.  Now in this story the centurion asks some Jewish people to talk to Jesus first.  This is a great story illustrating intercession.

Intercession is to ask something for the sake of another out of love.  The word basically involves 3 parties: the one in need, the one who can help, and the one who goes to get the helper.  Intercession at its heart is a person serving as a mediator on behalf of another.  It is the servant who is in need.  However we have several layers of mediators.  The Jews mediate for a gentile centurion.  There are friends who also mediate for the centurion.  Lastly, although it is not clear in this telling, it seems from Matthew’s account of this story that the centurion himself speaks with Jesus in the end.  Each of these layers demonstrate an affinity or love of the other person.  The centurion cares about the servant.  The friends and the Jews probably don’t know the servant, but they do care about the centurion.  Now I point this aspect out because the Bible warns us that in the last days people will be lovers of themselves.  Thus we can use intercession as a type of barometer.  Do I pray?  And, when I do, how much of it is praying for others because I care about them?  If most of my praying is only for myself, then most likely I am being molded by the spirit of this age to love myself.  It is not wrong to pray for yourself, but we need to pay attention to this aspect.  Do I have a love for others that drives me to my knees in order to pray to God for them?

The first layer of mediators is the Jews.  They approach Jesus with some reasoning for why He should heal the man’s servant.  He is a worthy man.  They press it home by pointing out his love for the Jewish people and how he had even given money to build a synagogue.  Now before I diminish the reasoning of these Jews, let’s note that it is not the centurion who thinks he is worthy.  This is an important part of intercession.  Often, people don’t think they are worthy of God’s notice.  Or, they think that God doesn’t care about them.  Intercession is powerful because it uses the worth that they have to us, to propel us into prayer on their behalf.  However, we must be careful and not confuse their value to us with their value to God.  Yes, the centurion has shown love to God’s people and has benefitted them.  It only seems right that they should benefit him back in some way.  Yet, the centurion knows himself.  In verse 6 and 7 he states that he is not worthy.  This beautiful picture would really have been ruined if he had an attitude that he was worthy and Jesus owed Him a miracle.  Intercession can never be about demanding something and making our best case as to why God must do something.  Rather, it is a reenacting of the beauty of God’s heart that gets His attention.

Jesus does not address the worthiness issue.  He could have.  Instead he lets it drop.  However, the teaching of Christ and the apostles is that Jesus is the only one who is worthy to receive anything from God.  No one, but Jesus, is worthy of anything from God, in and of themselves.  Paul talks about his ability to be used powerfully as an apostle in 2 Corinthians 3:5, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.”  Thus, the Jews did not convince Jesus to come heal the servant by their reasoning.  Rather, they helped convince him by demonstrating that they had a heart like his.  Jesus is the ultimate intercessor and mediator.  God’s heart was so broken over the lostness of mankind that His Son comes to earth in order to intercede and mediate with the Father for man.  This wave after wave of intercessors compels Jesus to give the request, a healing. 

If we are blessed by God it is not because we are worthy, but only because we are believing on the only One who is The Worthy One.  All the money that helped build a synagogue for the Jews would be later destroyed.  It is doing them no good today.  All the love and well-wishing he had for them would do no good to stop the tragedies that lay ahead.  In a material and temporal sense, the centurion’s gifts were wasted and of little value.  But in a spiritual sense they were of great value.  Through them a heart was revealed that believed there was something more to the religion of this people called the Jews.  Through them a heart was revealed that wanted to bless what God was doing.  Through them a heart that believed was revealed, which is of eternal value to God.  God’s heart is about taking those who are far removed from Him and bringing them close.  This centurion was right in thinking that he was a nobody when it came to asking the Messiah of Israel for a healing.  But, good news!  That is exactly who Jesus is looking for.  He is looking for some nobodies.

The Power Of Christ To Heal

If Jesus is famous for anything it is the miracles of healing.  But this passage reveals something deeper about the ability Jesus had to heal.  First, of all it is not by coincidence that the centurion tells Jesus to just “say the words.”  In the Bible the Word of God is everything.  In fact in John 1 it is revealed that Jesus is the ultimate Word of God.  Thus it really is the Word of God that heals.  We must never forget this.  You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.  The Word of God is Truth.  The centurion doesn’t know that Jesus is the eternal Word of God.  But he does understand the power of authority.  When a general gives a command the centurions obey.  When the centurion gives a command the legionnaires obey.  Thus the Father spoke the Son into the world and that Word is not done.  He came first to heal the wound of sin.  But He will come again in order to remove the scourge of sin through judgment.  Yet, even that judgment is a completion of the healing of the creation.  He must remove that sin and those sinners who refuse to be healed.  The primary purpose in all that God says and does is to give life of which healing is a subcategory.  Even when God’s Word speaks judgment it is so that we will see our need of healing.  This truth is everywhere in Scripture.  God’s Word doesn’t just heal physical problems.  It is the answer to every situation and problem, if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.  Does this idea get abused by some religious people?  Sure.  But what does that have to do with the Truth?  You hear the Truth and embrace it.

Next, we see that Jesus has the authority to heal.  Authority is sometimes translated as power because of the close relationship.  The word here specifically means that Jesus not only has the ability to heal, but that he is free to do so.  He has the right to heal.  Thus Jesus is unique in this area.  He alone has the authority to heal on command.  Even those who have the spiritual gift of healing technically do not have such authority as Jesus did.  Rather, we have the authority to point people to Jesus who does have power to save and heal.  When we point people to Jesus the Holy Spirit will quite frequently come and reveal this saving and healing power.  Thus pastors and teachers do not have the Truth in and of themselves.  The best they can do is point you to the One who does and that is Jesus.  When pastors faithfully point people to the True Jesus the Holy Spirit will be there working to open their eyes and encourage belief.  However, We have the right and authority to share the Truth of who Jesus is with everyone.  The world will challenge us on that.  Even some Christians are beginning to dream up reasons why certain people shouldn’t be evangelized.  However, no matter what man says, our authority is from God Himself.  You be the judge should we obey man or God?

Notice here that faith is centered on Jesus, the One who can heal.  Today, in our desire to get Jesus to do something, we can be a lot like the Jews in this story.  We can do all manner of things in order to be worthy enough to get a healing.  But this is not what gets God’s attention.  Such motivations is what has led people to focus more on believing that the healing will happen rather than Jesus can heal on command.  Thus the miracle becomes the object of our faith instead of Jesus.  Another step away from Jesus is when we actually focus our faith on our faith itself.  This happens when we teach people that they didn’t have enough faith to be healed.  It is possible to not have faith.  But we should be talking about faith in Jesus.  People end up trying to work up some mystical powerful faith that will get them healed on demand.  We need to get back to the simplicity of this story.  A man in need, with friends helping him, intercedes with Jesus for healing.  The rest is up to Jesus.  If He says, “my grace is sufficient for you,” then we need to trust Him and leave it at that.  Thus there are two tensions in our day.  Some refuse to believe that miracles can happen today.  Notice even that statement is not focused on Jesus.  Can Jesus still heal today?  Can the Creator of the universe still create?  Of course He can.  Then healing and miracles can still occur.  We need to be using the rights that Christ has given us to point people to Jesus as their answer for sin, and sickness.  Yet, others have abused this area and turned it into a ludicrous show.  Through sleight of hand, crowd manipulation, bad interpretation of Scripture, and other means, some have abused this area of healing.  Put your faith on Jesus not the healing.  Put your faith on Jesus not your own faith.  Walk forward in trust and Jesus will give you all that you need.  Believe that.

 

Authority to Heal Audio