“However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
There are many healing stories in the New Testament. They are stories about the collision of powers; the power of God and the power of evil. In fact, the entire Bible can be understood from this vantage point. The story of Israel is one of perpetual struggle between faithfulness and idolatry. The Gospels, the epistles, all the books of the New Testament, were written by those who knew the clash of powers. Go look for yourself. The context is consistent throughout.
The letters of Paul, again and again, speak to the clash of powers within congregations, Christian communities. He called it “spiritual warfare”. The Book of Acts begins with the story of Stephen, the martyr, whose body was crushed with stones. This story sets the crucial context for Luke’s history of the early mission of the Church. The Book of Revelation testifies to a world that will know continual conflict up to the very end. The Gospels tell of Jesus collison with Satan. Demons assail Him. Adversaries stalk Him, plotting His destruction. His disciples come into conflict with His purposes. Suffering and the cross are His fate.
Martin Luther, who knew his Bible, had no illusions whatsoever regarding the potency of the powers set against us. “Did we in our own strength confide” he wrote in his famous hymn, “our striving would be losing. Were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing.”
If the conflict of powers is the context of the Bible’s story, the defeat of those powers is the great theme. The healing stories, therefore, reveal the triumph of wholeness and life over the powers of destruction and death. In Jesus, the Holy Spirit was reshaping lives; demons were sent reeling, twisted bodies were made whole, those utterly destroyed by the power of death were raised.
What Jesus did, He still does. The power is not gone. The vast array of God’s arsenal of grace continues to be deployed in the conflict on behalf of healing and wholeness. Through Christ we are “more than conquerors”.
At the same time, when we think of healing it is easy to overlook a critical point. It is not finally for the healing of bodies or the destruction of evil per-say, that Christ came. The intent of God’s healing presence is displayed with no greater power than when the conflicted, sin-sick human heart is reconciled to God through a living faith in Jesus Christ; when we can rejoice that our names are written in the book of heaven.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.“