The Healing Service in St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney has been operating almost every Wednesday night for the last 51 years. In that time thousands of people have received various degrees of physical, emotional and spiritual healing. There are also hundreds of other healing services in Australia and overseas where people receive prayer and later testify to healings received. What are the common factors behind them all? In this gospel story today we find two factors that show us why Healing services exist. They are firstly, God’s love and compassion for people and secondly, His willingness to bring blessing and healing to those who ask for them. We see this in Jesus’ ministry. The first of these factors is compassion. 1). THE COMPASSION OF JESUS. The word that is used for compassion in the New Testament is the Greek word splagchna, It is the word used to describe the deep innermost part of a person; the heart, the lungs, the liver, and the intestines. These were thought by the Greeks to be the seat of the emotions. The word stands for the emotion that moves a person from the very depths of his or her being. i). Jesus used it to describe the good qualities of the main characters in some of the parables. People reached out in a loving way to someone in need.
- In the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, the word is used of the master who out of compassion, freely forgave the man who owed him millions of dollars. Mt 18:27.
- In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, it is used of the compassion of the Prodigal son’s father. When he saw his son returning home in the distance, he ran out to warmly welcome him home. Lk 15:20.
- In the Parable of the ‘Good Samaritan’ it is used of the Samaritan who out of compassion went to the help of the wounded traveller on the Jericho Road. Everyone else passed by on the other side. They didn’t want to get involved. But the most unlikely person, a despised Samaritan was the one who had compassion. He went to the man’s aid. He really cared for him. Lk 10:33
ii). The Gospel writers used it of Jesus. Mark used it of Jesus in Mark 6:34, in the feeding of the five thousand. Mark says that Jesus saw a great multitude and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He was touched by their confusion. He cared about them. He ministered to their needs by teaching them. He wanted to satisfy their spiritual needs. He also miraculously fed them to satisfy their physical needs. We also see compassion in action in Mark 8:2, in the feeding of the four thousand. Jesus recognised that some of His followers had been listening to His teaching for 3 days. They were without food. In His compassion He moved to meet their need of food. In Mark 9:22, we have the healing of the boy with the unclean spirit. The boy’s father cried out to Jesus, “Jesus have compassion on us and help us if you can.” Jesus demonstrated His compassion. He rebuked the spirit and healed the boy. In Lk 7:11, He saw a woman weeping as the body of her dead son was being carried out to be buried. Moved with compassion He said to her, “Do not weep.” He came and touched the coffin and told the dead son to arise. He did! The crowd cried out “God has visited His people.” He had! They saw in Jesus, the compassion of God. They also saw God’s power at work in Him. The power of God restored a dead son to his broken-hearted mother. Here in this passage in Mark 1:41 we read of the healing of the leper. He had challenged Jesus with the words, “If you will, you can make me clean”. Filled with compassion, Jesus did the unbelievable. He touched the untouchable! He said to the leper, “I will, be clean”. The leper was instantly healed. In all these healings, we see that the motivation for healing, came from compassion, from the love of God in Christ. Compassion notices human needs. Compassion reaches out to meet the needs of others. That’s what Jesus did. That’s what happens in healing services as people motivated by compassion for others in need, reach out to pray for them. We turn now to the second ground for healing. ie., 2). THE WILLINGNESS OF JESUS TO HEAL. The two questions we sometimes have in our minds about healing, come out in the story of the boy with the unclean spirit, and in the story of the healing of the leper. i. The first question concerns the ability of Jesus to heal. The father of the boy with the unclean spirit said to Jesus “Help us if you can”. Jesus replied “If you can? All things are possible to him who believes”. In other words, “I am able to heal. But you need to trust me to bring the healing you need.” ii. The second question concerns the willingness of Jesus to heal. The leper said, “If you will, you can make me clean”. Jesus replied “I will, be clean”. In other words, “That’s my desire. I want to bring blessing and healing”. It reminds us that God is on the side of healing. He healed through Jesus, He healed through the disciples. He has healed people throughout history. As we pray for God’s healing and blessing, we know we’re praying according to His will. He is willing and He is able to heal. That brings us to a very big question we need to answer in today’s world. If God is compassionate, and has the ability and the willingness to heal, why aren’t more people healed? A QUESTION TO ANSWER. Why Isn’t There More Healing? There are many hindrances to receiving healing. We look at just a couple of them. i). We can have a wrong attitude towards God and towards Jesus. The sort of attitude that thinks that God isn’t concerned with us as individuals. The attitude that thinks that He’s got more important things to do, than to care about you and me. The mind-set that thinks He has more important people to worry about than you or me. We need to remember that it was “while we were yet sinners” that God sent His Son Jesus to die for us. It wasn’t just for the good people. It wasn’t just for the important people. It wasn’t just for the clean people. Rather His loving compassion and power were seen in Jesus’ ministry as He reached out to touch the untouchable, the leper, and to heal him. No matter how insignificant people may think they are in the sight of others; now matter how dirty or unclean they may feel within; the compassion of Christ reaches to all those who are willing to receive it. ii). Having a wrong attitude towards God as Father. The truth is that He is a loving Heavenly Father to His children. Some people may not believe that, or feel it to be true. A bad experience of an earthly father may have tainted their minds. They find it hard to think of God as a loving Father. Some people may need to replace their faulty concepts of fatherhood, with the biblical picture of fatherhood. That is, to see that God is the true pattern of Fatherhood. Every human father is only a pale reflection, or in some cases, a terrible distortion of the perfect Father. But He is the perfect Father who gave His only Son to die for us. He is the loving, compassionate Heavenly Father who gives us everything we need in Jesus. That was in the mind of a woman who came to a Sunday afternoon healing service in St Andrew’s Cathedral many years ago. She was over 8 months pregnant and came to the service supported by her mother. When the time came for prayer with the laying on of hands, she told me that her legs were badly swollen and that her doctor was very concerned for her. But she felt that God as her loving Heavenly Father could do something about her situation. As we prayed over her I thought of the passage where Jesus told His disciples to have faith and pray, Mark 11:22 “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. I then felt led to pray that the “mountains” in her blood stream go, by dispersing and vanishing from her body. Even as I prayed those words I felt it was a pretty dramatic thing to pray out loud, especially in a Cathedral! Especially St Andrew’s! After the service I wondered about what I had prayed. Then came Wednesday. The phone rang and it was the woman who had received prayer at the service. Her conversation went something like this, “I went to my doctor yesterday and he looked quite baffled. He said after examining me that he could find no trace of any swelling even though he knew how swollen my legs were when he last saw them. He commented that that sort of swelling just can’t reduce like that. It would take weeks of the very best medication to reduce it in any measure. Then he asked what I had done to bring about such a surprise result. I told him that I had received prayer at a Healing Service in the Cathedral on the previous Sunday. He looked puzzled and said , ‘Well it must have worked. There can be no other explanation’.” Our Heavenly Father gave us His Son. Paul reminds us that God gives us all things in Him. This includes all the blessings and healings we need to live for Him in today’s world. As St Paul reminds us in Romans 8:31-32, What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? PRAYER. Heavenly Father we thank you for Your amazing love. We see it in this story of a leper made clean. Help us to turn to You in all our need, so that we too may know Your loving and powerful touch on our lives. We ask it in Jesus’ name. AMEN. Blog No.058. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Sunday 12th February 2012