Luke 4:31–5:26. The Healing Work of Jesus.

Key Notes: Jesus heals a demoniac, Pater's mother, a leper, a paralytic and a flock of others. God has the Name of Healer.

There are sixteen healings in Luke, twelve in chapters 4–8, so the major healing work was done early in Jesus' ministry. The purpose will become clearer as we study six episodes in this short space.

4:31 Jesus was teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath. A man possessed of an unclean spirit (spouting filthy speech? sexual exposure?) disrupted the teaching with the loud proclamation that Jesus of Nazareth was the Holy One of God, come to destroy the demons. Jesus immediately exorcised the demon (in today's world exorcism may take hours or days) and the man got up from his paroxysm healed and well. The assembly was amazed at Jesus' power. The news traveled fast.

4:38 After the meeting, he went to Simon Peter's house and found Peter's wife's mother sick with a fever. High fever in adults suggests serious infection such as typhus, or malaria and in those days was frequently fatal. Jesus stood over her and rebuked the fever and she was well so quickly that she was able to make supper.

4:40 That evening people will all kinds of disease swarmed around the house and Jesus healed them all--even the demon-possessed who announced that Jesus was the Son of God. As in the case of the man with the unclean spirit, Jesus did not welcome endorsements from demons. But the impact was great, and Jesus had to leave after spending some time alone, in part to disperse the crowds and in part to work in other places such as Judea.

5:1 Back at the Sea of Galilee he found the boats of Peter, James and John, where they were making net repairs after an unsuccessful night of fishing. He asked Peter to anchor out so that He could teach from the boat, using the lake acoustics to advantage. After the teaching session was over, He suggested that Peter take the boat out fishing. Peter had had no success that night, and did not want to try again, but did as Jesus asked. They enclosed such a school of fish that their partners had to come to assist.

Peter was then personally overwhelmed perhaps by his own feelings of embarrassment and inadequacy. But he spoke as if sin overwhelmed him and he asked Jesus to go away. {Psychologists tell us that all inadequacy is experienced as guilt.}  Jesus, however, did not address his guilt, but his rejection. Instead of going away, Jesus invited Peter to come with Him. Peter had much more important "fish" to catch. James and John came along with him, leaving a small fortune in fish to their helpers.

5:12 Jesus was confronted by a leper in a city. Leprosy has always been a troublesome disease. It is contagious, a slowly destructive process that attacks nerves of the extremities, leaving the tissues to dry up and fall off--fingers, toes, ears, nose--with infected wounds that give off foul odors. The leprosy patient is often disfigured and disabled, a physical mess. The Law quarantined anyone with this, and a number of similar-appearing diseases. (Lev.13:45–46). They were the untouchables of the ancient world. Jesus was challenged: He could heal the leper if He chose to.

Jesus responded by touching the leper, an unthinkable act of ritual and physical uncleanness. But in that move the leper was cleansed. Jesus told him to report to the priest (Lev.14:1–4), rather than to tell the story around his village. The priest not only would certify him as whole, but the whole priestly group would have direct evidence of Jesus performing a miracle that none of them had ever seen before.

5:17 The last act of healing began with a paralyzed man and four enterprising friends who would not be denied entrance to the house. The occasion was a conference of the religious experts of Israel with Jesus. Jesus looked up at the four men looking in from the hole in the roof and said to the paralytic being let down, "Your sins are forgiven." This was a word that religious experts could go to work on: no one but God can forgive sins.

So Jesus posed a dilemma for them: which is easier to say, "Your sins are forgiven", or "Rise and walk"?
•It is easier to say "Your sins are forgiven" since only God knows if that happened. But no one would dare say something so blasphemous.
•It is harder to say "rise and walk" because it is likely that nothing will happen so we dare not say that either.
Jesus solved the problem by saying the harder "Rise and walk" in order to prove the easier "Your sins are forgiven." The man rose before them, took up his mat and went home. That ended the conference: the experts were all amazed and glorified God.

These six healings had spiritual implications:
1.a man with a dirty spirit fighting against Jesus.
2.a woman with a high fever--threatened with dying.
3.a crowd of sick at sunset--desperate people clamoring for His help.
4.a fisherman who is embarrassed, a sinner who wanted to be alone.
5.a leper--grotesque and smelly--begging for pity.
6.a sinful paralytic--weak and dependent on the faith of friends.

Why does sickness plague our world and what should we do about it?
*Sin led God to bring futility, pain and death on mankind. (Gen.3). A hundred years ago, on that basis, it was thought that giving pain relief to women in labor was going against the will of God. (Gen.3:16). Today some think that people with AIDS should not be helped because they have brought their sickness on themselves. Plainly that was not Jesus’ way. It is therefore a wrong conclusion.

*God wounds and God heals. (Deut.32:39). God brings healing. Jesus started His ministry with healing, as if bearing one of the names of God: JHWH Rophe, the LORD our healer (Ex.15:26). And He deals with sin and sickness together.
"The Lord will take from you all sickness and none of the evil diseases of Egypt...will he inflict upon you." (Deut.7:12–16). Plainly, Jesus had the ministry of healing and commissioned his followers to do the same. (Matt.10:1). Healing is a dimension of salvation, and healing may lead to saving faith.

Jesus' healing work answers Satan's third temptation: how to attract a following. There is nothing better than the testimony of people healed. The word travels like wildfire. We hear today of miraculous healings in Africa and Asia, even in the high country of Nepal. As with Jesus’ healing, these miracles publicize the Gospel in a unique way and win people otherwise unapproachable.