Q & A

 

What, specifically, does Jesus say about sickness and love for the sick and infirmed?

 

By Craig Bluemel

 

 

----- Original Message -----

From: Virginia

To: craig@bibleanswerstand.org

Subject: Question - Jesus love and sickness

 

What, specifically, does Jesus say about sickness and love for the sick and infirmed?

 

Thank you,

 

Virginia

 

Craig’s Reply and Answers

 

October 23, 2005

 

Dear Virginia,

 

Thank you for your patience in waiting for my reply.  I was very anxious to respond, but wanted to take a day when the pressures of replying to the many email questions ahead of yours, and on a day when I knew I could reflect, pray, and listen to what the Father’s heart wanted me to say. 

 

The Sheep & the Goats

 

Jesus’ entire ministry centered around caring for the needs of the sick and infirmed, so if I were to list every word he spoke on the subject, it would fill many pages.  Since your question asks specifically for Jesus said about having love for the sick and infirmed, the answer can be readily summed up in the context of Matthew 25:31-46, concerning the final judgment, when Jesus himself separates two kinds of Christian believers, the sheep and the goats.

 

Matthew 25:31-46

“But when the Son of Man comes in his splendor with all his angels with him, then he will take his seat on his glorious throne.  32 All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men from each other like a shepherd separating sheep from goats.  33 He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.

 

34 Then the king will say to those on his right: ‘Come, you who have won my Father’s blessing!  Take your inheritance––the kingdom reserved for you since the foundation of the world!  35 For, I was hungry and you gave me food.  I was thirsty and you gave me a drink.  I was a stranger and you made me welcome.  36 I was naked and you clothed me.  I was ill and you came and looked after me.  I was in prison and you came to see me there.’

 

37 Then the true men will answer him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food?  When did we see you thirsty and give you something to drink?

38 When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome, or see you naked and clothe you, 39 or see you ill or in prison and go to see you?’"

40 And the king will reply, ‘I assure you, that whatever you did for the humblest of my brothers you did for me.’

 

41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Out of my presence, cursed as you are, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!  42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat.  I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink.  43 I was a stranger and you never made me welcome.  When I was naked you did nothing to clothe me; when I was sick and in prison you never cared to visit me.’

 

44 Then they too will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick or in prison, and fail to look after you?’

 

45 Then the king will answer them with these words, ‘I assure you that whatever you failed to do to the humblest of my brothers you failed to do to me.’

 

46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the true men to eternal life.”  Phillip’s New Testament

 

This parable of the sheep and goats aligns with Jesus’ description of the greatest commandments by laying the pragmatic details (i.e. – the ‘how to’ instructions) of what it means to love your neighbor.  Notice what Jesus says in verse 36 above, “I was ill and you came and looked after me.”  This shows pragmatic love, not ethereal and ambiguous gestures of token faith. 

 

The Greek word in Matthew 25:36 that has been translated as, “looked after me,” is epesképsasthé (episképtomai = NT: 1980) and it has the meaning of, “seeking out, in order to look at something, examine closely, inspect, observe.”  Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers says episképtomai is a later form of episkopeo (NT: 1983), literally, “to look upon,” which is rendered, “looking carefully,” in the Revised Standard Version of Hebrews 12:15, (King James Version = “looking diligently”), epi being probably intensive here; in 1 Peter 5:2, “to exercise the oversight, to visit, care for.” 

 

The point that Jesus makes in Matthew 25:46, with respect to our infirmed and sick brethren in the Lord is that our love for the Master is only recognized by him when we diligently seek out, looking carefully at the physical condition and needs of those in d9istress.  Our English word, “scope,” (as in tele-scope) is derived from the Greek skopeo (NT:4648), “to look at, consider.”  This implies mental consideration, and is rendered, “while we look... at,” in 2 Corinthians 4:18.

 

Numerous passages in the gospel accounts of Jesus teaching that align with the context of Matthew 25, and because many Bible versions do a poor translating job, they fail to convey the true meaning of words, as they were originally intended in the Greek New Testament.  One example is found in Matthew 10:8 below:

 

Matthew 10:5-8 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  7 And as ye go, preach, saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”  King James Version

 

The Greek word mistranslated in Matthew 10:8 as, “heal,” the sick is transliterated from the Greek as, “therapeúete,” (Strong’s # = NT:2323) and this same Greek word is where our English word, “therapeutics,” is derived.  Literally, therapeúete is defined as, “To wait upon, minister to, render voluntary service, heal,” but primarily it signifies, “to serve.” 

 

Paul uses this same word therapeúete in his words spoken in the center of the Areopagus, at the Mars Hill meeting place, sharing the gospel to the philosophers and sages of Athens, concerning the altar erected to the ‘unknown god,’ in Acts 17:22-25.  In verse 25, Paul says “Neither is God worshiped (therapeúetai, served, ministered to) with men's hands, as though he needed anything.”  This is proof that when Jesus commanded his disciples to, “heal the sick,” in reality, he includes in his instructions the pragmatic aspects of serving the needs of the sick, by providing practical care for them in love, using their ‘hands’ as tools by which they were to ‘serve’ the needs of the infirmed.

 

The word therapeúete is also the same Greek word used in many gospel accounts that describe Jesus’ healing the sick and diseased thru the power of God.  Only context governs whether or not the healing is therapeutic, and done solely as a menial service, or whether there is also an accompaniment of divine and miraculous healing. 

 

What we need to learn and understand is that God, who is love, wants us to be made into His likeness and follow the pattern He gave thru His son Jesus.  There are only two kinds of people in the Christian church, the sheep and the goats.

 

Jesus’ Anointed to Heal for God’s Purpose

 

It is interesting to read the gospel account of the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, as in Luke 4:14-30.  Entering his hometown of Nazareth, in the synagogue, as was His custom on the Sabbath day, he began reading from the scroll of Isaiah.  No doubt, Jesus had read the scriptures here many times before, and the people had great admiration for his teaching abilities.  But this Sabbath was different, as Jesus prophesies the actual fulfillment of what was written in Isaiah 61:1,2.  The account in Luke 4:18-19, 21a records what Jesus read saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor; He has sent me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed, who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity, to proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord… Today this Scripture has been fulfilled while you are present and hearing.” (Luke 4:18-19, 21a; Amplified Bible)

 

The local population knew Jesus as Joseph’s son, not as the son of God, but had never witnessed any miraculous healing thru him.  I find this rather noteworthy, because it demonstrates one important fact of truth, that God gives His authority to execute miraculous power for a purpose.  The words that stand out are, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me… recovery of sight to the blind… to proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord.”  Jesus himself recognized that his healing ministry was given to him BY God for a specific reason, and a set amount of time. 

 

Lest there be any doubt as to the veracity of this interpretation, later in the context, Jesus uses the prophets Elijah and Elisha as illustrated examples that not everyone would be healed that he encountered, just as there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah during the 3 ½-year drought (the same length of time as Jesus’ public ministry), and yet Elijah was not sent to a single one of them, but only to Zarephath in the country of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.  (See 1 Kings 17:1,8-16; 18:1) 

 

With regard to divine healing, Jesus used Elisha as his example, defining the parameters and limits of his own healing ministry by explaining to the Jews in the synagogue, that there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and yet not one of them was cleansed by being healed, except only Naaman the Syrian. (See 2 Kings 5:1-14)  The aforementioned example of the Lord Jesus and his understanding of why God gives authority for divine healing should speak strongly to our hearts as believers, yet so many ignore the clear text of scripture. 

 

The Seventy Sent with Authority to Heal

 

Later in his ministry, when God the Father instructed His son Jesus to send seventy of his disciples out to preach the gospel, He also equipped them with authority to heal the sick and cast out demons.  Upon their return, the seventy workers were highly exuberant and full of joy.

 

“Lord,” they said to Jesus, “even evil spirits obey us when we use your name!”  (Luke 10:17)  Even though Jesus rejoiced at their excitement and fervor for the gospel, he also recognized there was a carnal motivation for their boasting.  These seventy followers of the Christ were too unseasoned and immature to grasp with comprehension the reasons WHY the Father had given them authority over the evil spirits. 

 

In Luke 10:20, Jesus corrected the seventy, saying to them, “…Yet it is not your power over evil spirits which should give you such joy, but the fact that your names are written in Heaven.”  When God gives the authority to heal or cast out demons, it is not done to make us happy, but to bear witness to the truth, that others might believe.

 

In Luke 10: 21-23, after correcting the seventy for their attitude, Jesus turned his voice and heart toward God and exclaimed, “O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, I thank you for hiding these things from the wise and the clever and for showing them to mere children!  Yes, I thank you, Father, that this was your will.  Everything has been put in my hands by my Father; and nobody knows who the Son is except the Father.  Nobody knows who the Father is except the Son AND the man to whom the Son chooses to reveal him!” 

 

The bottom line boils down to whether or not Jesus chooses to reveal such authority to you as an individual believer.  Sure, God the Father still heals today, and His power has not diminished in any capacity whatsoever. 

 

The Greatest Commandment of All

 

In the context of Mark 12:29-34, the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus in his words by using tricky questions about the Law of Moses.  One of the sincere scribes, who had been listening to the discussion, approached Jesus and asked him, “What are we to consider the greatest commandment of all?”  The Lord responded with two statements:

 

1.      Mark 12:29 “The first and most important one is this, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one,’ and, ‘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.’

 

2.      Mark 12:30 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  No other commandment is greater than these.”

 

The scribe that asked the question replied to Jesus, “I am well answered, master!  You are absolutely right when you say that there is one God and no other God exists but him; and to love him with the whole of our hearts, the whole of our intelligence and the whole of our strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves is infinitely more important than all these burnt–offerings and sacrifices.”  Then Jesus, noting the wisdom of his reply, said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”  (Mark 12:29-34; Phillip’s New Testament).

 

Jesus repeatedly taught that one’s love for the Father is genuinely expressed if and when he or she is loving His children.  This is the central theme of all that Jesus taught about sickness and love for the infirmed.  Notice the word, “commandment,” in Mark 12:30 above, is a singular and not a plural word.  In other words, Mark 12:29 and Mark 12:30 are considered as one singular commandment.  The intended meaning of the commandment is this:

 

1.      Hear, O Israel,” = Are we willing to listen with our heart?  (As the true Israel; see Romans 9:6-7)  To ‘hear’ means our listening is done thru obedience to the greatest commandment.  (i.e. - ‘the Lord our God, the Lord is one’).

 

2.      The Lord our God, the Lord is one= This requires us to become ONE with God’s heart, and this always includes caring for the weak, the fatherless, the sick, and the infirmed.  In his prayer of intercession in John 17:3, 11-12, Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, to know you, the only true God, and him whom you have sent, Jesus Christ… So they can be one heart and mind, as we are one heart and mind.”  Oftentimes, we would rather just pray for someone sick, than to actually help provide the physical care they may need, but are hesitant to ask for.

 

The Old Testament passage, which Jesus quotes in Mark 12:29-30, originates from Deuteronomy 6:4, a scripture that was greatly revered by the Jews.  In fact, Deuteronomy 6:4 was THE foremost among all of Yahweh’s commands in the Law, because it forbid Israel, as His covenant people, from participation in the polytheistic forms of idolatrous worship practiced by the foreign nations. 

 

However, the second commandment, to which Jesus affixes the same weight of importance as the first commandment, is found in the text of Leviticus 19:18, which reads, “Thou shalt not take vengeance neither shalt thou cherish anger against the sons of thy people; so shalt thou love thy neighbor as thyself, I, am Yahweh.”  (Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible).

 

When Jesus quoted Leviticus 19:18, the scribes and Pharisees, being self-professed ‘experts in the Law of Moses,’ realized immediately the implications, that Jesus had nailed their scheming, conniving motives with a resounding knockout punch of Yahweh’s truth.  Included in the context just before Leviticus 19:18, were fundamental qualifications that defined the meaning of loving one’s neighbor:

 

Leviticus 19:16-18Don’t spread gossip and rumors.  Don’t just stand by when your neighbor’s life is in danger.  I am GOD.  Don’t secretly hate your neighbor.  If you have something against him, get it out into the open; otherwise, you are an accomplice in his guilt.  Don’t seek revenge or carry a grudge against any of your people.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  I am GOD.”  The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson 2002

 

Showing love for the infirmed and sick, according to the teaching of Jesus, must be done with an attitude that does not hold grudges, resentment, unforgiveness, or bitterness.  The scribes and Pharisees were guilty, and they knew it, and so did all those who were listening to the discussion.  This is why the wise scribe contrasts, “love {for} one’s neighbor as one’s self,” as being, “abundantly more,” than, “all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 

 

Even though Jesus does not mention burnt offerings or sacrifices in this discussion, everyone in Jerusalem and Palestine’s Jewish community were aware of the religious façade of the Pharisees and scribes.  They put on a big show every day, seeking to win the approval of men by offering their ‘sacrifice’ (i.e. - giving alms), and their boisterous devotion to the daily ritual of prayers, which were always vocalized loud enough, and with just the right tone of voice, so that those within earshot would hear them.  This show was nothing more than a pretense for the underlying evil, greed, and hatred seething within these hypocritical gasbags.

 

Sometimes we Christians do the same thing that the Pharisees did, using our most ‘spiritual’ words and our most holy tone of voice to offer a public prayer.  Our not so subtle holy-tones and our, ‘Oh God,’ type of prayers won’t cause God’s response any more than those uttered silently from the heart.  The bottom line is simply this: Loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is proportionate to the way you love your neighbor as your own self.  I’ll restate it even more simply: To truly love God you must love others.  Love for the sick and infirmed must be expressed in pragmatic ways, not merely thru prayer or faith, as some teach. 

 

I know all about this firsthand, having suffered severe chronic pain, as a result of injuries on the job, post-surgical pain, and being diagnosed with chronic illness that causes me debilitating daily pain.  I have spent the majority of my Christian life believing and trusting in God as my Healer; I will continue to trust Him until the day He calls me home, but the difference now, and what I have learned after years of physical pain, is that no matter whether He heals me, or doesn’t heal me, I will trust and serve and love Him. 

 

Believe me, it has taken much anguish, many sleepless, pain-laced nights, days on end where hope faded, and life became a massive blur of suffering that made no sense whatsoever.  Like king David, I can now say, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep Your Law.”  Thankfully, I have found peace by learning to walk each day trusting HIM, not in ‘healing.’ 

 

Many of today’s born-again Christians have erred by assuming that divine healing is an entitlement, which allows them to freely claim healing by faith at will.  When we believe and ask thru prayer, does God always miraculously heal?  The resounding answer is, ‘No!’  Sadly, too many Christians have been wrongly taught otherwise, and they glibly carry on as if the only thing that matters is being physically healed by God.  This kind of faith may seem to work when the going is easy, but what happens when tragedy strikes? 

 

There are times when we as Christians incur terrible sicknesses and other forms of suffering, such as terminal cancer, a stroke, heart attack, diabetes, fibromyalgia, spinal cord injuries and paralysis, and much more.  Those believers that have not had their minds and hearts tempered with the biblical teaching about suffering are oftentimes devastated when calamity befalls their life.  The test of their alleged ‘faith’ will inevitably be shaken to the point of disillusionment, especially in circumstances that involve a family member, marriage partner, or worse yet, when one of their children becomes terminally ill. 

 

What happens to these folks, when their child dies of leukemia, or they become chronically infirmed and live with daily physical pain and/or disabilities?  Suddenly, the reality of this mortal life and our existence here slaps them in the face, and at some point, they will be forced by the nature of their difficult circumstances to reconcile authenticity of their infirmed condition with their claim to ‘faith’ in the miraculous.

 

Following a crippling automobile accident, the once zealous Christian, who is now a quadriplegic, lies motionless on his bed, staring at the ceiling for days on end; the days slowly turn into weeks, and then the weeks into months, and then months into years on end.  Now, he finds no comfort in the emptiness of sugarcoated words of ‘faith’ that were once held in such high regard.  This is not just a make-believe story; this type of thing occurs to Christians every day somewhere in the world. 

 

I Love My Brothers & Sisters in the Lord Jesus

 

Unless we have been taught in doctrine and thru example how to let God work thru and in the midst of affliction and suffering, even the most devoted believer is not equipped to handle the losses he or she will face in the days, week, months, and years ahead when suffering any catastrophic infirmity.  I know, because this happened to me.  Like many Christians, I had the expectation that God will always heal, and when He didn’t, my faith was sorely tested. 

 

For a long time I became very negative, and at times, I was even cynical, or angry with God, and blamed Him for not keeping His promises to heal.  I was improperly equipped, and didn’t know how to handle suffering and long-term affliction, pain, and a life of physical loss, and being deprived of all the many activities, I so enjoyed. 

 

By physical activities, I’m not referring to sports, hobbies or other mundane goings-on either, because my passion for the past 32 years as a believer in Jesus was spending my free time helping others, sharing the gospel on the streets, helping feed and clothe those who were in need, taking time to help the elderly people in my neighborhood, and my wife and I cared for single-moms and their children in the inner city of Tacoma, all of which the aforementioned and more opened the doors of people’s hearts, enabling opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We also had a thriving house church, and many new people came each month, where we enjoyed potluck dinners and Sundays (all day), teaching from scripture, praying together, sharing and just hanging out as friends in Jesus.

 

I could not understand, I could not comprehend why God would allow me to get sicker and sicker, and suffer more and more pain.  I was unable to fathom why He would not heal me, so that I could be about my Father’s business!  As the months and then years dragged on, my physical condition only worsened, (even to this day, as I write this article), and in the first few years, I had some very dark, bleak days, times when I even doubted the very existence of God. 

 

Every man or woman of God has his or her limits to what they are able to endure, and when pain robs you of sleep, and you go night after night with little or no sleep, your mind and body fall apart, and reason becomes unattainable.  There were times I felt suicidal, and got so desperate, just trying to find some kind of stability and sanity, looking for answers or reasons why.  The answers why will never fully be known this side of eternity, but now, over 12+ years of affliction later, I can see with clarity why God allowed me to go this route, and I would not want to undo or do it any other way! 

 

You asked what Jesus said about sickness and love for the infirmed and sick, and I have shared some passages from the gospel accounts of his teaching.  But more relevant to the present time, having suffered has introduced me to some of the most awesome Christian men and women that I never would have met if I had not been afflicted.

 

I have learned the value of the expressions of mercy, love, care, compassion, sympathy, encouragement, mercy, and much more thru these precious believers.  Many of them I have never met face to face, but only know them via email correspondence.  Just the same, I feel the spirit of Jesus thru their words, and their prayers, and I know they feel the same spiritual kinship in the Father’s love, thru our mutual identity in the sufferings of Christ.  It is true that God still heals, and yes, He still does miracles today!  There are many testimonies to affirm the miraculous intervention of God. 

 

Faith is Not a Believer’s Entitlement to Claim Miraculous Healing for the Infirmed

 

The problem arises, however, when Christians start claiming the miraculous as their ‘right’ and feel they are ‘entitled’ to be physically healed, because of Jesus Christ, who paid the price for sin and sickness when he suffered and died.  They misquote scripture verses out of context, such as Isaiah 53:5-6 or 1 Peter 2:24-25, saying, “By his stripes you are healed!” If carefully read, the gospel account (Matthew 8:16-17), depicts Jesus himself (prior to his crucifixion) as the one that fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 53:5-6. 

 

The account in 1 Peter 2:24-25, taken in its context, is not mentioning divine healing, but following Christ’s example of suffering for the sake of righteousness, by walking in the forgiveness of sins he provided, which brings a believer into fellowship with God the Father, and as a result, brings restoration (healing) of the soul and spirit.

 

Matthew 8:16-17 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed.  And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.”  New King James Version

 

1 Peter 2:21-25 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth,’ who, when he was reviled, did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but committed himself to him who judges righteously; who himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness by whose stripes you were healed.  For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.  New King James Version

 

I’m not saying we should stop asking God to heal our infirmities and pain, nor am I saying we should cease to seek His divine intervention and protection.  Neither should we adhere to the brand of ‘faith’ being promoted by televangelists and other religious schemers.  Make no mistake about, this kind of hype is rooted in the love of money, and it sells to those foolish enough to buy into the make-believe, phony garbage that is being promoted by false teachers. 

 

These men or women are wolves disguised, who unashamedly instruct others to “pay a faith vow” to God, which really means, “Give your money to me by making a faith (MONEY) vow to MY ministry, and the more you vow to give, the greater blessing you will receive.  This is the ‘key to success’ and the way to wipe away debt, poverty, and sickness, and find healing, prosperity and success in ‘Jesus’ Name’!”  They present Jesus in the pseudo-light of a doctrine that fails to see pain, sickness, suffering, and hardship as being the very tools that God uses in a fallen world to shape and mold our character.  Ordinarily, I don’t care much for paraphrase Bible versions, since they are not a direct translation from the Greek, but below I have pasted The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson 2002 because it catches the sense of what Jesus is saying, and brings the application into the 21st century.

 

Matthew 7:12-16, 21-29

12“Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.  Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.  13 Don’t look for shortcuts to God.  The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time.  Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. 

 

14 The way to life—to God!  —Is vigorous and requires total attention. 15  Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity.  Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other.  Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character.  16 Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say.  A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook.  These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned…

 

21 Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me.  What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills.  22  I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’  23  And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat.  All you did was use me to make yourselves important.  You don’t impress me one bit.  You’re out of here. 

 

24 These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living.  They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock.  25  Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.  26 But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach.  27 When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.” 

 

28 When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause.  They had never heard teaching like this.  29 It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers!  This was the best teaching they had ever heard.  The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson 2002

 

I very much believe in the power of God, especially thru prayer and genuine compassion and my heart yearns to see the hurting, broken, devastated, infirmed, and suffering souls of this world comforted, helped, and genuinely loved.  People’s motives for wanting to see God’s healing power are not necessarily evil.  Let’s face it, we hate to see our loved ones suffer, or be sick, or in physical pain. 

 

The feelings of helplessness experienced by those closest to the ailing can be more tormenting to the soul, and more caustic to the mind than it is to the person that is afflicted.  I know this to be true, because my precious wife, whom I love more than my own life, has suffered greatly as she prayerfully, faithfully loves me in my own pain.  I can see the look of distress at times on her face, which speaks volumes for how much she cares.  If only she could do more than pray, have faith, and provide the physical support; but she has also been forced to concede that God is in control, and if He does not grant the authority to heal, it ain’t gonna happen!

 

The Good Samaritan – An Example of Being Sure You Have Eternal Life

 

Years of physical suffering have allowed me the privilege of meeting some awesome Christians, whose prayers and love have sustained my life and kept me inspired to pursue God’s kingdom in the face of adversity.  Read carefully the story below of the good Samaritan, one of the best examples of Jesus’ teaching about love for the sick and infirmed.  Note especially Luke 10:25-28 below in the context, because these verses are foundational to Jesus’ instruction and your initial question, asking specifically for the Lord’s words about loving the infirmed.

 

 Luke 10:25-37 Once one of the experts in the Law stood up to test him and said, “Master, what must I do to be sure of eternal life?”  26 What does the Law say and what has your reading taught you?” said Jesus.  27 “The Law says, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind––and thy neighbor as thyself,’” he replied.

 

28 “Quite right,” said Jesus. “Do that and you will live.”  29 But the man, wanting to justify himself, continued, “But who is my ‘neighbor’?”

 

30 And Jesus gave him the following reply: “A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho.  He fell into the hands of bandits who stripped off his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead.  31 It so happened that a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  32 A Levite also came on the scene and when he saw him, he too passed by on the other side.  33 But then a Samaritan traveler came along to the place where the man was lying, and at the sight of him, he was touched with pity.  34 He went across to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.  Then he put him on his own mule, brought him to an inn, and did what he could for him.  35 Next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the inn–keeper with the words, ‘Look after him, will you?  I will pay you back whatever more you spend, when I come through here on my return.’  36 Which of these three seems to you to have been a neighbor to the bandits’ victim?” 

 

37 “The man who gave him practical sympathy,” he replied. “Then you go and give the same,” returned Jesus.

 

Jesus was very thorough, mentioning the details of what it means to truly love your neighbor, particularly as the expression of your love and worship of God, and particularly in view of wanting to obtain eternal life.  Many Christians need to take heed to these words, and start looking, seeking, and asking God to reveal the many needs and opportunities to love those who are either physically infirmed, or worse, whose hearts have become diseased by sin, hopelessness, and other forms of spiritual cancer that eat away at a person’s existence.

 

Samaritans thought to be a ‘bastard race’ by the Jews and the Jewish leaders considered them to be of less value than dogs or swine.  In fact, to give you a reasonable comparison today, imagine the same story, but replace the Samaritan with a Palestinian Christian, stopping to help the wounded Jewish man in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem!  For this very reason, Jesus uses the Samaritan as an example for what it means to love your neighbor as yourself, demonstrating the heart of God looks past the obvious outward discrepancies, and looks upon the heart of the merciful man. 

 

This is an expression of God’s impartial love, which is made one with the heart of a true believer, whenever he or she consciously cares for the needs of others, treating his or her neighbor with the same treatment that he or she would want to be treated.  Why didn’t Jesus tell the man to lay hands on the man left half dead, and simply do as many televangelists say we ought to do, and, “claim by faith a miracle healing?”  I’d personally rather trust the words of the Master, rather than the distorted teaching of others, whose ulterior motive is fueled by greed.

 

This isn’t rocket science, but you’d be surprised how few born-again Christians actually live this commandment as a lifestyle and are willing to become a living sacrifice for others.  Consider the example of Jesus’ love for the wounded Malchus, servant of the high priest on the night of his arrest.  Led by the betrayer Judas, Malchus was sent along with the Roman cohort to the garden of Gethsemane, no doubt to assure his master that Jesus was in custody, so that he would stand trial to the false accusations of these hateful, jealous Jewish leaders.  As if it wasn’t sufficient proof that Jesus would have to go voluntarily, evidenced just moments earlier, when God the Father caused the entire Roman cohort and the mob that accompanied them to fall backwards, Peter still felt compelled to draw blood in defense of his Master.

 

Jesus could rightfully have beckoned his Father in heaven to call forth thousands of angels when they wanted to seize him.  Instead, he stooped down, picked up the bloody ear laying in the dirt, and placed it back where it belonged, healing the servant of the high priest that came to arrest him.  Then he said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath.  Am I not to drink the cup the Father has given me?  He that lives by the sword shall also perish by the sword.”  (John 18:10-11 with Matthew 26:51-52)

 

At one time or another, each of us has wielded our biblical strength with an attitude not unlike that of the apostle Peter, we use the Bible to win arguments and beat up others verbally. We are called to love others impartially, as the Father loves, which sometimes involves extending God’s healing love to our enemies or those in opposition.  In our zeal to defend the truth, sometimes we Christians haphazardly swing the blade of the Sword (of scripture), inadvertently or intentionally wounding a fellow servant to the great High Priest.  Even if we haven’t, the Father may call upon us to bring healing to a wound caused by some other careless member of the body of Christ, particularly to those who have been damaged by argumentative Christians.

 

Now that the requirements of the old covenant Law have been abolished in Christ, he alone is our great High Priest and the only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).  As a result, it is necessary for those that have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches, (as mature and spiritual believers), to restore those offended in a spirit of meekness.  This expression of God’s impartial love requires us to drink the cup of suffering, swallow our pride, and lay aside our doctrinal differences for the circumstance at hand.  Then, following the example of Jesus, we are to reach out to the wounded servant, and restore their ability to hear, just as Jesus miraculously healed the severed ear of Malchus. 

 

In other words, true healing cannot be a byproduct of the flesh, but thru the Spirit, we are putting to death the carnal desires, so that having been crucified with Christ, we are also risen with him, to walk in newness of life.  Thru the atonement (at-one-ment) of Christ, we become ministers of reconciliation in him, bringing healing to hearts, minds, and souls of those in whom God is working.  As each member of the body of Christ contributes his or her part, the effectual working of each part causes the growth of itself in love, and by this means, we are made one thru Jesus (Ephesians 4).

 

Luke 6:35-36  “But love your enemies, and do good and lend, hoping for, nothing, back; and your reward shall be, great, and ye shall be sons of the Most High, —for, he, is, gracious, unto the ungrateful and wicked.  36  Become ye compassionate, according as, your Father, is, compassionate.”

 

I hope you have found this article answers some of your question.  If I can help further, please don’t hesitate to ask.

 

Love in Jesus,

 

Craigo (my nickname)

 

Craig Bluemel - The Bible Answer Stand Ministry

1 Peter 3:15 Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.    

 

 

 


 

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