Remember the story in the New Testament (Acts 3:1-9) when Peter and John heal a lame man? They are going into the Temple in Jerusalem and see a man lame from his mother’s womb. The man asks for money, but Peter and John give him something far more valuable. They heal him “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.”
I’ve always loved this story. There’s so much there to learn. Peter and John were bold in the Spirit. Are we? They were confident that the man would be healed “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Are we as confident of the healing presence of Christ? The man was receptive. And he thanked God by praising Him and leaping as high as he could. How do we thank God for healing in our lives? Do we leap for joy and praise Him so all can see?
In studying this story again the other day, it suddenly hit me that since this man had been lame from birth, he would have been lame during the ministry of Jesus. Every day for years, friends had laid him at the Beautiful gate of the Temple. If he was there every day, did he ever see Jesus? Did Jesus ever see him?
The Bible doesn’t tell us all the details.
It is perhaps possible that Jesus never saw the lame man. He could have always missed him because of the sequence of events.
Or maybe the Savior saw the man and realized he wasn’t receptive yet to the Gospel message.
Maybe Jesus saw him and thought, “Well, I better leave someone for my disciples to heal once I’m gone.”
All this is obviously a bit presumptive on my part. I have no idea what Jesus was thinking or if he ever saw the man or not, or perceived how receptive he was.
When you read some parts of the Gospels, it sounds like Jesus healed everyone of everything wherever he went.
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.”(Matthew 9:35)
Every sickness and every disease. That’s a lot of healing.
But sometimes, when he came to his hometown of Nazareth, for example, he only healed a few sick folks (see Mark 6:1-6) because they only saw him as a carpenter and could not fathom the possibility that he was the Messiah. They were offended that he taught with such authority in the synagogue, the Bible tells us.
“And he could do no mighty work there.” (Mark 6:5)
Was Jesus incapacitated by people’s lack of belief, their lack of faith? Could the Son of God be subject to mortal man’s material-mindedness?
Of course not.
Jesus came to heal the sick, among other things. I personally think Jesus could have done mightier works there. Just as he could have asked God to send 12 legions of angels to rescue him from the crucifixion. (Mark 26:53) But Jesus never acted without instructions from the Father. He always had the prayer, “not my will, but Thine be done,” in his heart if not on his lips.
He did not perform those mighty works because God did not direct him to. Jesus said, “I can of mine own self do nothing…because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30)
Could God have performed great miracles in Jesus’ hometown? Of course. God is omnipotent, always. But would it have been wise for such events to take place where the people were not receptive?
I also think Jesus was obeying his own precept here: not to cast his pearls before the swine, that animal-like tendency in the human mind that cannot discern the spiritual gems in front of it, nor appreciate their worth, therefore recklessly trampling them into the earth.
What if he had done some of those “mighty works” which he was famous for, in his home town? How would they have been received by those doubtful disputers? It would have been too much for them to comprehend and interpret correctly with their mental attitudes. They might have disputed Jesus even more. Or they might have become blind and fanatic followers without understanding the truth of who Jesus was. Who knows?
It doesn’t mean, however, that at some point in the near future, either before or after the crucifixion, that these same home-town folks would never come to see that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. They just couldn’t see it at that point. So the time was not ripe for “mighty works” in their midst.
Just a few sick folks were healed. Just a few sick folks…healed. In my book, that is still pretty amazing and something to be grateful for.
Back to the lame man at the Temple gate called Beautiful.
As I said, we really don’t know the circumstances surrounding this man’s personal encounter with Jesus or lack thereof. What we do know is that he had an encounter with Jesus’ healing ministry, the power of Christ, or what I’ll call the Spirit of Jesus (not the personal man). When Peter commanded him to “rise up and walk” in Jesus’ name, he did. He was healed.
I really can’t believe I’m saying this, but I guess it’s a good thing Jesus did not heal everyone during his brief three years’ ministry. He commissioned the Apostles to go out and preach the Gospel and heal the sick. If there were no more sick people to heal, how could they have put into practice what Jesus had taught them to do? They had to prove the truth of who Jesus was. It couldn’t just be words.
The book of Acts tells us of many accounts of healing by the early Christians. I am going out on a limb of assumption to say that some of these same people had heard Jesus preach and weren’t healed. Maybe they weren’t receptive to the ideas Jesus was preaching–yet.
Why were the man at the Temple gate and all the other people healed by those early Christians finally receptive to the power of God? There is one very obvious reason.
Jesus’ resurrection ripped the veil from the Temple which covered the Holy of Holies. He destroyed mankind’s sense of separation from God. He removed the obstacles in men’s hearts individually and collectively. I think this created a mental, moral, and spiritual atmosphere of receptivity, expectation, and acceptance of God’s marvelous works through His Son, Jesus Christ.
The disciples were not just preaching the ideas that Jesus had preached and taught them. They were now telling everyone about the resurrection as well. They spoke from first hand observation. Think what it would have been like to hear them speak with such absolute conviction about the resurrection. The result was healing and salvation for those who were receptive.
So, did Jesus choose not to heal someone so he could be healed later by the disciples? I personally don’t think so. I think he always discerned what was in people’s hearts, in their thinking. When they were receptive, he healed them. Sometimes they just weren’t ready for the blessing.
Now fast forward to today.
Does God ever choose not to heal someone? I don’t think that’s the example Jesus gave us. I believe God is always ready, with outstretched arms, to heal us, save us, protect us, guide us, correct us, and love us. Are we really ready to receive what He has in store for us? Are we really willing to forgo our will and follow His will?
It’s easy to say we are, but it’s another thing to really mean it way down deep in our hearts.
My prayer for all of us is to embrace this utter and complete willingness to relinquish our will for the Father’s will. Let us pray to be receptive to the power of God to meet all our needs: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. And may we have no false trusts in the things of this world.
God is always ready to heal. Are we ready to receive what He is freely giving us?
Please share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you.