It was a hot summer day and I was in a church, laying on my back with my face to the ceiling praying that the Lord would heal me from a severe stomach virus. As I’m praying, I was fully aware that I had brought this sickness on myself by not heading the wise counsel of my wife and a seminarian friend to drink a particular beverage that helps keep away stomach viruses when traveling overseas. It just so happened to be a drink I didn’t like, so I convinced myself that I would be fine with another drink that was like the one they counseled me to have. After about a week of traveling I found myself severely sick with a stomach virus.
You see, I had just finished traveling through Turkey and now I was on a tour in Israel with several other students. On this same day at least two other people had gotten sick and decided to stay in their hotels, but not CJ. I was going to tough it out and take some charcoal. While touring a city in Galilee, we decided to take a break. Just walking distance from where we were was a church building built over a 1st century house. So I went into that church and poured my heart out to God, praying that He would take the pain in my stomach away. Well not long after that our tour resumed and we were pulling up near the Sea of Galilee to see the Jesus Boat exhibit. As soon as I got off the bus, there was a guy from our tour, who was also sick, vomiting into a barf bag on the grass. The moment the smell hit my nose, I took off running toward the Sea of Galilee with my hand over my mouth. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the Sea of Galilee in time. On the way, there was a large rock that I blessed, not once, but twice. So when I read about the Sea of Galilee in the Bible, this is the memory that comes to my mind. You see, God had to get something out of me in answer to my prayer for healing. You see, what I didn’t tell you was, the church I was praying for healing in was built over the house of Peter in Capernaum, where our story takes place this today. Capernaum was the headquarters for Jesus in Galilee and it was the scene of many of His healing miracles as we are about to discover. Many scholars believe and Ellen White makes very clear in Desire of Ages p. 267, that in Luke 5:17, Jesus was teaching in the house of Peter. In this house, Jesus will reveal 3 principles of health and healing that are necessary for us to experience True Kingdom Wholeness. So let’s dive in together…
At this point in Jesus ministry His popularity had reached an all-time high. Not only where people coming from all over to hear Him speak or to be healed by Him but there was another group that was eager to hear Him as well. They were the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. They had an ulterior motive for wanting to hear Him. They wanted to catch Him in something He said in order to bring accusation against Him. They didn't like Jesus very much. His message of the Kingdom was offering too much grace to those that we're not like them. If He really was the Messiah He should be trying to get in with their clique. But Jesus didn't seem to want to do that.
Now don’t miss the power of this text! Did you catch what the text just said? With the Pharisees and the teachers of the law sitting in close proximity to Jesus, the Bible says “the power of the Lord was present to heal them!” Now I have read this story many times in my life. And to me it always seemed to say “the power of the Lord was present to heal.” In a general sense, to everyone who was present. And there are some translations that translate it that way. Then as I read the text again in the New King James Version, several other versions and in the original language and I discovered that not only was the power of the Lord present to heal anyone who came to Jesus, but in a specific sense the power was present to heal the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Wait a minute! Who are these Pharisees and teachers of the law? They were commandment keeping, Sabbath observing, Advent awaiting, Health conscious, professed followers of Yahweh. Yet they sat there in the presence of Jesus thinking they didn't need any healing!
So here's the first thing Jesus told me to tell you. If you want to experience true Kingdom wholeness, you have to come to grips with the fact that…
Jesus has the hardest time healing those that think they’re well
Okay let me get a little closer. He has the hardest time healing us (Christian, Seventh-day Adventists). Commandment keeping, Sabbath observing, Second advent awaiting, Health conscious, professed followers of Christ, who don't sense our great need of Him! I’ll be the first to confess that I’ve been that person.
I'll never forget when I made the healthy decision to become a full fledged vegetarian. It was early in our marriage and I was feeling pretty good about myself. Now my wife has always eaten vegetarian food, but would occasionally eat some clean meet. Especially chicken. And I remember her sharing with me, in light of her fibromyalgia, a doctor once advised her not to eat too much chicken. It might cause her some pain. So one Saturday night we were hanging out with some friends from church and they ordered some pizza. There were different kinds of pizza; Chicken pizza, Vegetarian pizza and Cheese pizza. So I decided to have some cheese pizza, which of itself wasn't the healthiest option. We were all there eating laughing and having a good time. Then I saw out of the corner of my eye, Deedré taking a small bite of some chicken pizza. I got so mad, it was as if Deedré had committed the unpardonable sin. I remember pulling her aside and in such a mean spirit rebuking her for taking a small bite of chicken pizza. I was so mean and critical that it ruined our entire night. In the moment I felt that my goal was pure; for both of us to be the healthiest we could be but what I didn't realize was that I was the one in far greater need of healing than she was. God recently brought that experience back to my memory while I was driving with her and I had to apologize to her for how I treated her. She was so gracious and forgave me. As a matter of fact she had completely forgotten about it. I’m telling you, Jesus has the hardest time healing those that think their well!
Can you feel the passion of Jesus as He is standing there teaching? Since the Fall in the garden of Eden, He has always desired our complete wholeness. You see, on every other day of the creation week God just called what He made good. But after He made you He called you very good! That word “good” in the Hebrew is called Tov. It means good, functioning the way it's supposed to and it also means beautiful. Did you hear what I just said? When God made you He declared you to be very beautiful! You don't have to do anything to yourself to prove that to anybody! But when we sinned, we fell from God's original design and went from functioning the way we were supposed to, to being dysfunctional. Therefore the best diet for mankind, the ideal for marriage and how we were to function for our happiness is all seen in the Garden. Therefore sin not only brought about evil and selfishness, but also sickness suffering and disease. So God's covenantal promise had always been to send His Son to save us and make us whole. This has been His desire all along, to make us whole, not only spiritually, but mentally and physically as well. The full restoration of our whole being. This is the ideathe word “heal” in verse 17 is trying to say to us. The word for heal, there in the Greek, is “Iaomai” which means to cure, to heal and to make whole. But it also means to free from sin and to bring about one’s salvation. So the deeper meaning of the text is that the power of the Lord was present to “save” them! This is critical for understanding how the rest of the story unfolds.
Yet here is the amazing thing, all that power to heal and to save was present to heal them. They sat in close proximity to Jesus and yet were not healed! All that preaching, all that teaching, all that power manifesting in Christ, right in front of them and they still left not healed! Why?! Because proximity to Jesus doesn’t mean intimacy with Jesus!
You can come to worship service every week, go to a small group gathering or even go to prayer meeting and still leave unchanged! You can come into His presence and leave with no power! How is that possible? Because closeness to Jesus, doesn’t mean you have a connection! You are just going through the motions! You are sitting in His presence and His power is present to heal you, to save you, but you don’t recognize how much you actually need Him! You think you don’t need the healing!
So what makes the difference? How do I come close to Him and receive the healing. We will find out in part 2 of this blog.