I Could of Course Give You Immediate Relief

sickbed

And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.   Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ. (Luke 4:38-41)

Luke presents throughout this whole section a Jesus who utters words of power and in these particular instances a Jesus who is the Healer of Men’s ill. And Jesus is the same today:  ‘Thy touch has still its ancient power; No word from Thee can fall’. But his methods are his own, and not the over-simplified ones his patients would sometimes prescribe for him.

I would therefore make a broad distinction between two methods of healing: not the obvious distinction between the miraculous and the medical, but one which lies deeper than that. Where his object is to be known as the Healer, he works immediately; such cures are, as it were, for the shop-window—the kind of success story which establishes the reputation of a great surgeon or physician. I see no reason why in some circumstances today Jesus may not choose to work in this way and for this purpose. But where he is already known, he may well say to his trusting patient: ‘I could of course give you immediate relief; but I would rather take the opportunity to do something more far-reaching, which will be to your greater benefit in the long run. You will find it more protracted and perhaps more painful, and you may not understand what I am doing, because I may be treating disorders of which you yourself are unaware.’ He will then set to work to deal with the needs of the whole person, rather than with the obvious need only. He may aim at a calming of spirit, or a strengthening of courage, or a clarifying of vision, as more important objectives than what we could call healing. Indeed the latter may not be experienced at all in this life, but only at the final ‘saving and raising’ of the sick, when their mortal nature puts on immortality.

Michael Wilcock

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