Over the course of the four Gospels, Jesus heals a multitude of people. These healings are some of the most striking stories of Jesus’ life. This unknown man from an unknown town continually shows His authority over storms and sickness. As we read these stories, we are to be rightly amazed, but at times it is also easy to be perplexed.
We usually have no problem grasping Jesus’ healing ability, but as he is remedying bodies on his life long journey to the cross, he makes comments that can seem confusing.
Take John 5 for example. Jesus encounters a man trying to reach the Pool of Bethesda to be healed, but the man could never make it in time. The sick and disabled man was helpless. Jesus, upon seeing him said, “Get up, take your bed, and walk”. The man was healed, got up, and walked away (John 5:2-9). On seeing the man again, Jesus makes a seemingly nonsensical remark to the man: “Sin no more” (John 5:14).
How can Jesus possibly say that? No one can literally “Sin no more” this side of glory. Plus, what does this man’s sin have to do with the physical healing Jesus provided him? Those are two separate issues, right?
We see a similar story in Luke 8 when Jesus encounters a woman who suffered from a 12-year long perpetual discharge. She had sought out the best that medicine could offer to no avail (isn’t it interesting that Luke, the physician, is the one who points this out?). Knowing the stories and lore surrounding Jesus, she reaches out and touches him. Jesus immediately notices and says:
“Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me” (Luke 8:43-46).
When no one fesses up to making contact with Jesus, she comes to him trembling to explain why she touched Him and how she had been healed. Jesus responds with a fascinating remark:
“Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace” (Luke 8:47-48).
A myriad of questions come to mind. How does her faith have anything to do with this, ultimately? Wasn’t it Jesus’ power that healed her? And how can she honestly go in peace? We’re not granted peace in this life in any real sense short of having our sins forgiven, but Jesus hadn’t died on the cross yet, so how was this possible for her or the man from the Pool of Bethesda?
The answer to our questions lies in the profound power of faith.
We can often times confuse ourselves when it comes to how salvation was achieved before the cross. It is often asked how Old Testament faithful were saved before Jesus. We can read the Bible as if there are two ways to be saved (pre and post-cross). But that’s not what the Bible tells us. There are not two different ways to salvation, but rather a clearer view of how salvation is accomplished in light of the cross.
From the beginning, salvation has always been by grace alone through faith alone.
The words of Genesis 15:6 ring just as true today:
“And [Abram] believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness”.
It is our faith that saves us, not our works, but our works are evidence of faith within. When the man at the Pool of Bethesda stands up after Jesus’ command, he is placing his faith in Jesus that Jesus had the power to heal. When the woman with the discharge reaches out and touches Jesus, she is putting her faith in Jesus and believing that He has the power to heal. That’s essentially what we are doing when we put our faith in Jesus to save us. We are believing that He has the power to heal what no human can. The woman and the man believed the same thing, but they had no idea just how powerful Jesus was. Yet, there simple trust in Him to heal was enough. Jesus healed far more than their physical maladies; He spoke life and breath into their souls.
This majestic Messiah is sovereign over skin and sin. He is the Healer of sickness⸺ body and soul. He is the true and better physician. He has more than the cure for leprosy, discharges, and quadriplegics; He has power to raise the dead to life physically and spiritually.
No matter how sick our souls feel, no matter how dirty and diseased our lives have been, we are never so sick⸺ or even dead⸺ that Jesus can’t save us. All it takes is faith; faith that Jesus Christ is our sovereign Savior who can heal us from the greatest sickness: sin and spiritual death.