A Christian Guide to Luke by R. David Pogge

Chapter 3

Healing the Sick

Luke 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 13, 17, 18, 22

Luke was a physician 1 so it should come as no surprise that Luke records 15 instances of healings (counting the healing of ten lepers as just one instance of healing) in his Gospel.

Section 3.1 - Fevers

Not all of Jesus’ healings were spectacular. Sometimes he simply cured fevers. No disease is too small to merit His attention.

Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them. [Luke 4:38-39]

One of the ways the body cures itself is with a fever. A fever isn’t a disease—it is a symptom of a disease. When the disease is over, the fevers stops.

The way Simon knew his mother-in-law’s disease was cured was because the fever went away. If not for visible symptoms, and lack of physical symptoms, we would not be able to tell if healing occurred or not.

Section 3.2 - Casting out Demons

Luke was a doctor, a "man of science," so it may be surprising to you that some of the healings Luke described involved demon possession. Luke didn’t believe in demon possession, did he? Yes, he did.

Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people.

They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority. In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

“Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.

All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area. [Luke 4:31-37]

Few people today seem to believe in demon possession. If people can’t be possessed by evil spirits, how do you explain school shootings and other mass murders? Conventional wisdom blames these things on chemical imbalances in the brain—but what causes the chemical imbalances? If mental illnesses are caused by a chemical imbalance, how does simply commanding the disease to go away cause the chemicals to balance themselves?

People often try to find natural explanations for supernatural phenomena. That never works.

Life is supernatural. It violates physical laws. Walls naturally fall down. Walls don’t fall up naturally. Someone has to work against nature to build a wall up. In the same way, dead bodies naturally decay. They don’t naturally come to life. A supernatural force has to work against nature to give a dead body life.

We call something "supernatural" if it doesn’t happen naturally—but apple seeds naturally sprout. What is natural about a seed sprouting into a tree which has flowers which are pollinated and turn into apples containing apple seeds? A seed buried in the ground should naturally rot. Isn’t growing into an apple tree really miraculous?

Some miracles (like seeds sprouting) happen so often, so reliably, that we consider these supernatural processes to be natural. Admittedly, in rare instances, something happens that is so obviously supernatural that we recognize it to be miraculous; but in most cases, the line between natural and supernatural is blurry. Supernatural miracles happen so often that we expect them to happen, and consider them to be natural.

When it comes to healing diseases, it can be tough to distinguish a natural cure from a supernatural one. You cut your finger. It bleeds. Then it stops bleeding because the blood clots. Blood clotting is natural—or is it? Why does blood only clot when it needs to? If blood clotted all the time, it would clog up your arteries. What makes the skin grow back together to heal the cut? The more you think about it, the more miraculous something as simple as a cut healing is.

If you break your arm, the doctor doesn’t really heal the bone. The doctor puts your arm in a cast so the bone doesn’t keep breaking as it is healing. It is your body that causes the bone to grow back together, and it is God who makes your body do that. The doctor doesn’t make the bone grow back together—God does that. If you break a bone in a cadaver no doctor can make it grow back together. The natural process is for a bone to decay, not grow.

Doctors don’t heal anything—they facilitate miracles. What doctors do should not be minimized. Doctors perform a valuable service. There is no question about that; but we must not forget that every disease is cured supernaturally by God—whether or not doctors or prayers are involved. Healing is simply miraculous in every case.

Demon possession is a supernatural illness. Like all other illnesses, it has to be cured supernaturally.

People catch colds for a reason. There is a reason for everything. We may not know what the reason is, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason, nor does it mean we should not look for the reason. It is just as reasonable to wonder how people “catch” demon possession as it is to wonder how people catch a cold.

Sometimes people get physically sick through no fault of their own, and sometimes they get sick because they engage in risky behavior. Spiritual illness is no different. Most of us have a pretty good idea of what risky behaviors might cause physical illness. We should be equally aware of what risky behaviors might cause spiritual illness (demon possession).

Secular society is riddled with spiritual toxins. Our brains are constantly bombarded with satanic suggestions because secular society has embraced so many of Satan’s lies. The cure is in the Bible. We have to stop doing things that are Politically Correct and do things that are Biblically Correct instead.

We may not be able to cure demon possession with just a single command; but just like physical illness, we can (in many cases) cure spiritual illness with prolonged spiritual treatment.

Dr. Luke recorded a total of 16 instances of Jesus healing people. Five of those healings (31%) involved casting out demons. The first healing of any kind in the Gospel of Luke is the exorcism in Capernaum quoted at the beginning of this section. Let’s look at the other four instances.

At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah. [Luke 4:40-41]

When someone is demon-possessed, the demon controls what a person says and does. When the demon gets cast out of a person, the demon can no longer speak through that person. They can’t even proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God. That’s a good thing because you should not listen to what demons say, no matter what they are saying.

Sometimes more than one demon lives inside someone.

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; ... [Luke 8:1-2]

Mary had been possessed by seven demons, but that did not disqualify her from following Jesus.

Sometimes, there are too many demons to count.

They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.

Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.

A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them,because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.

The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. [Luke 8:26-39]

You can’t see demons—but you can see what they do. People could see what they did to the herd of pigs. People could see what the demons had done to that man for many years, and they could see that the demons were no longer doing it. The testimony of that man to all the people who had previously known him was far more valuable to Jesus than any other service he could have given Jesus, so Jesus wanted him to stay right where he was, where his testimony would be the most effective. Your testimony right where you are might be more valuable than anything else you could do for Jesus anywhere else.

Later in His ministry, Jesus gave His disciples the power to cast out demons, but they were not always successful.

The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.”

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.”

Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the impure spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. [Luke 9:37-43]

This same story was also reported by Matthew 2 and Mark 3. Those writers make it clear that not only did this perverse generation lack faith, the disciples lacked faith, too. It was the lack of faith of the disciples which prevented the boy from being healed. If we are going to heal spiritual illnesses, we need have enough faith to counteract the lack of faith of this unbelieving and perverse generation we are living in.

Jesus’ words make it sound like He was frustrated and critical. That’s because He really was frustrated and critical. Jesus is divine; but He is also human. He knows what it feels like to be frustrated. He dealt with His frustration by telling the disciples why they had failed so that they (and we) could learn from their failure. Jesus didn’t give His disciples (or the perverse, faithless generation they lived in) a pass just because He loves them.

The final, and perhaps most important observation we should make about demon possession is that there is nothing in the Bible that indicates that people who are demon possessed are bad people. Yes, they behave badly, but it is the demons who are controlling their behavior. Once the demons are cast out, the people become themselves again. Demon possession isn’t a sin to be punished—it is an affliction to be healed.

If we say that someone has a demon, and needs to be delivered from the power of that demon, Satan tries to prevent that healing by accusing us of being judgmental and unloving—and Satan’s tactic is nearly always successful. It is as if the diagnosis of demon possession is un-Christian. Satan’s trick might prevent us from acknowledging the source of the disease, and prevent us from employing the only possible remedy.

The Bible clearly says:

  1. There are demons.
  2. Demons control and torment people.
  3. Jesus has the power to drive the demons out.
  4. Jesus wanted His disciples to have enough faith to drive those demons out.
  5. Jesus was disappointed that His disciples lacked the faith to do it.

There must be faithful Christians who perform genuine exorcisms; and there seem to be people who falsely pretend to be exorcists, perhaps out of vanity or a need for respect. Satan uses the latter to bring disrespect upon the former. As Jesus feared, there seems to be so little faith on Earth that when He comes there might not be any who have faith enough to deliver those suffering from demon possession to be healed. If you don’t have the faith to believe that demons exist, you certainly don’t have the faith to believe Jesus’ power can drive them out.

Section 3.3 - Leprosy

In biblical times, people believed leprosy was a curse from God—with good reason. Sometimes (but not always) it was! There are three examples of leprosy as evidence of being cursed by God in the Old Testament.

After Elijah had cured Naaman of his leprosy, Naaman offered to pay Elijah the 150 pounds of precious metal and fine clothing he had brought, which were described in Section 2.2. Elijah the prophet refused to profit from God’s generous gift of healing, and sent Naaman away without accepting a penny. Elijah’s servant, Gehazi, was not inclined to be so gracious to a commander of the enemy forces, so he followed Naaman, caught up to him, and lied.

“Everything is all right,” Gehazi answered. “My master sent me to say, ‘Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two sets of clothing.’”

“By all means, take two talents,” said Naaman. He urged Gehazi to accept them, and then tied up the two talents of silver in two bags, with two sets of clothing. He gave them to two of his servants, and they carried them ahead of Gehazi. When Gehazi came to the hill, he took the things from the servants and put them away in the house. He sent the men away and they left.

When he went in and stood before his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?”

“Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered.

But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow. [2 Kings 5:22-27]

King Uzziah was also afflicted with leprosy.

But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the Lord followed him in. They confronted King Uzziah and said, “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the Lord God.”

Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the Lord’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the Lord had afflicted him.

King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house—leprous, and banned from the temple of the Lord. Jotham his son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land. [2 Kings 26:16-21]

Perhaps the best-known example involved Moses’ sister, Miriam.

Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.

(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)

At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” So the three of them went out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them stepped forward, he said, “Listen to my words:

“When there is a prophet among you,
    I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,
    I speak to them in dreams.
But this is not true of my servant Moses;
    he is faithful in all my house.
With him I speak face to face,
    clearly and not in riddles;
    he sees the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
    to speak against my servant Moses?”
The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.

When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease. [Numbers 12:1-10]

The subsequent verses tell that Miriam’s sin was forgiven, and she was cleansed of her leprosy.

Because God did occasionally use leprosy as a punishment, it is easy to understand why some people, especially lepers themselves, might believe that leprosy is always a punishment from God. Thinking they deserved to have the disease, they might not expect to be healed.

While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.

Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. [Luke 5:12-16]

First and foremost, Jesus was willing to cure the leper. The leper did not have to twist Jesus’ arm to do it.

Second, Jesus commanded the man to go to the temple to thank God in the manner proscribed in the Holy Scriptures for his healing. Jesus was not creating a new religion in competition with Judaism. Jesus was reforming Judaism, and restoring its purity. Jesus was healing in accordance with the method specified in the Old Testament. The healing was a testimony both to Jesus’ power, and also a testimony to the validity of the Old Testament.

Third, Jesus “withdrew to lonely places and prayed because, as important as healing is, praying was more important to Him. He needed spiritual strength to be able to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God.

Section 3.4 - The Sin Connection

Leprosy wasn’t the only disease that was believed to have been a curse from God. All afflictions were (incorrectly) assumed to be divine punishments. Jesus used this belief to prove His divinity.

One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” [Luke 5:17-26]

You can’t see the forgiveness of sin—but you can see the healing of paralysis. Seeing that Jesus had the power to remove the presumed punishment of sin is evidence that the sin was forgiven. Since only God can forgive sin, the visible forgiveness of sin is proof that Jesus is God.

Section 3.5 - Equal Opportunity Healing

Luke, a Gentile, never missed an opportunity to point out that, when it comes to salvation, there is no male or female, free or slave, Jew or Gentile. Salvation is offered to all. Luke gave this example of Jesus blessing a Gentile.

An enemy solider came to Jesus asking for a favor. One of his slaves, who he loved, was dying. He asked Jesus to heal him.

When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well. [Luke 7:1-10]

There were good excuses Jesus could have used to refuse the request. The Roman soldier wasn’t a Jew. Why should the God of the Jews do a favor for a Gentile who was an enemy soldier? Besides that, the person he wanted saved was just a slave.

Despite all this, the centurion had some good things going for him. He respected the Jews enough that he had built a place for them to worship. He also knew that a Jew would be ceremonially defiled by entering his house, or even associating with a Gentile. That’s why he sent Jewish elders to ask Jesus to heal his slave.

Most of all, unlike the disciples who did not have enough faith to cast the demon out of a boy, the centurion had great faith. He knew that Jesus could heal his slave with just a word. Jesus rewarded that faith.

God’s graciousness also extended to women, who were (in that culture) not much better than Gentiles or slaves.

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”

But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”

Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” [Luke 8:42-48]

How did the woman know that all she had to do was to touch Jesus to be healed? Jesus didn’t go around saying, “Touch me and be healed!” Yet, somehow she knew she could be healed simply by touching Him. I suspect she was moved by the Holy Spirit to do it.

Like the centurion, she had great faith. She believed Jesus could heal her without lifting a finger, and without even saying a word.

The centurion and the bleeding woman aren’t the only two examples of equal opportunity healing for people who weren’t generally considered worthy. Consider this:

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” [Luke 17:11-19]

The ten men were lepers, so anyone who saw them would have considered them to be great sinners who were being punished for their sins. Even the lepers probably believed they were being punished for their sins. Not only that, at least one was a despised Samaritan. 4 The Bible does not tell us any reason why any of them deserve to be healed, so we can assume none of them were especially deserving—but Jesus healed them all, anyway, just because they asked.

What makes this story of healing unique is that nine of them weren’t grateful for the healing. Luke doesn’t say so specifically, but the implication is that the other (ungrateful) nine were Jews.

Section 3.6 - You Have to Ask

In order to be healed, you need to recognize your need. If you don’t recognize your need, it may have to be brought to your attention.

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.

Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God. [Luke 18:35-43

Every other time when he was sitting beside the road begging, he was just begging for money. He didn’t ask everyone who came by to cure his blindness because he knew they could not do that. Somehow, he knew Jesus was different. Instead of asking for money, he asked for what he really wanted.

If you aren’t blessed with very much, perhaps it is because you haven’t asked for very much. Jesus encourages you to ask for more.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” [Luke 11:9-13]

Section 3.7 - Healing on the Sabbath

Perhaps this healing should have been included in the section about demon possession because an evil spirit had crippled this woman. If you consider this to be yet another example of demon possession, then 6 out of 16 healings (37%) would have been instances of healing by casting out an evil spirit. Luke doesn’t say so, but perhaps the beggar was blind because of an evil spirit. Perhaps 7 out of 16 healings were done by casting out a demon. Maybe 16 out of 16 healings were actually exorcisms, but let’s not press the point too far.

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing. [Luke 13:10-17]

What makes this healing special is that it happened on Sabbath. In a previous example, I glossed over the Sabbath aspect so as not to distract from the demon-possession aspect of healing, but in that case people waited for Sabbath to be over to be healed. Here is that previous example again:

At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” [Luke 4:40]

In the Bible, days begin and end at sunset. Some sick people were afraid it would be a violation of the Sabbath Commandment for Jesus to heal them before sunset because it would still be the Sabbath.

Matthew 5 and Mark 6 both say that Jesus healed a man with a withered hand in the synagogue on the Sabbath. In every case Jesus made the point that Sabbath is not just a day for doing good, but not doing good on the Sabbath is a sin. Sabbath should not be used as an excuse to avoid doing good work.

Sabbath has been badly maligned as a terrible, restrictive time when you can’t do anything. Consequently, many churches have substituted one hour on Sunday morning for Sabbath, or ignore Sabbath completely. In fact, Sabbath is a time when you don’t have to engage in your daily activities, and get to spend a whole day with God. Jesus wants to heal you every Sabbath.

Section 3.8 - Living Proof

Luke gives two examples of times when Jesus raised someone from the dead. It isn’t an exhaustive list of all the people Jesus raised because we know He also raised Lazarus. 7 Luke could not record everything Jesus did.

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. [John 21:25]

First, Luke tells us that Jesus raised the son of a widow.

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country. [Luke 7:11-17]

In the next chapter, Luke tells about a little girl He raised from the dead.

Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.

...

While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”

Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”

When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”

They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened. [Luke 8:40-42, 49-56]

A cynic might say, “Why bother to bring them back to life? They just died again a few years later.” That’s a fair question because it leads to the larger question, “What is the meaning of life, since we all are going to die someday?”

The answer to that larger question can best be answered by asking the opposite question: “What is the meaning of death, since we are all going to live someday?” The righteous are going to be resurrected when Jesus returns. Everybody else will be resurrected 1,000 years later. 8 The meaning of death is that it is necessary to make resurrection possible. The meaning of life is to determine which resurrection you will participate in.

Jesus brought these people back to life to prove He can do it. Because He can bring them back to life, He can (and WILL) bring you back to life. The only question is, “When will He bring you back to life?” Will you participate in the resurrection of the righteous and live 1,000 years in Heaven, and then live eternally on Earth? Or will you participate in the resurrection of the wicked and suffer the Second Death along with all the other sinners when they attack New Jerusalem? Do you know enough of what the Bible teaches to make the right decision?

Section 3.9 - Healing to the End

The last healing Luke tells us about happened as Jesus was being arrested.

When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. [Luke 22:49-51]

John tells us it was Peter who cut the ear off.

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) [John 18:10]

Luke, the physician, didn’t care about the man’s name—only that the ear was healed, and how it was done. Healing is what doctors care about. John cared about the name of the man, and doesn’t mention that his ear was healed. The background of the writer doesn’t change the facts—but it does affect which facts the writer feels are important enough to be reported. That’s why each one of the four Gospels is just a little bit different from the other three. Healing was a priority for Luke.

Section 3.10 - Prorities

I began this chapter with the healings described in Luke 4:38-41, so it is fitting for me to close this chapter with the Luke 4:42-44.

At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea. [Luke 4:42-44]

There were many people who came to Jesus because they needed to be healed. Jesus could have occupied nearly all His time healing them. Unquestionably, that would have been a good use of His time. But, as important as the work of healing is, Jesus felt the work of “proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God” was more important. Proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God is probably more important than anything else we could be doing, too.

Back to Chapter 2 Table of Contents On to Chapter 4

Footnotes:

1 Colossians 4:14
2 Matthew 17:14-20
3 Mark 9:14-29
4 If you don't know why Samaritans were hated, please read http://krsf.net/Acts/Chapter4.htm#5
5 Matthew 12:9-14
6 Mark 3:1-6
7 John 11:1-44
8 If you are unfamiliar with the Biblical doctrine of two resurrections separated by 1,000 years, and think people go straight to Heaven or Hell when they die, please see Appendix B of A Christian Guide to Acts at http://krsf.net/Acts/AppendixB.htm.