Ambroise Pare was one of the fathers of surgery; he invented the use of ligature- that is, tying a blood vessel to stop bleeding instead of cauterizing open battlefield wounds indiscriminately with red hot irons. I love his famous quote which became my philosophy of surgery. Pare wrote: "Je le pansai, Dieu le guérit " (I bandaged him and God healed him).
Harold Sala's devotion expounds on this theme:
PROCLAMATION, EXPLANATION, AND RESTORATION
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
"The miracles of Jesus," so I was told when I was a student in seminary, "were like bells that called people to hear His teaching." In a sense, that is correct, but in another sense, suggesting that they were only flags to stop people long enough to hear what He had to say is both misleading and falls far short of what should be the church's mission in life today.
And what does this mean? Our today is a world of hurting people. Not only is physical sickness plaguing us as people traipse from doctor to doctor seeking a cure for their illness, but there are not enough health care workers today to deal with our mental distress, not enough counselors to help the walking wounded, not enough psychologists to help us cope with the abuses which have been heaped upon us.
If the Gospel has healing powers deep enough to go to the root of our estrangement, our hatred, our anger, and our pain, and we are not told about it, then we have been given a deficient product.
Let's go back to some basics. When Jesus was here His healing ministry was not a magic show to get people to stop working long enough to hear what He had to say. It was the core of His life and ministry. He healed the sick with a word. He reached out to the outcasts of society and embraced them as fallen brothers and sisters, each of whom was worthy of His time and attention. In the course of the three years He worked among us, He performed numerous miracles--33 of which are recorded by biographers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Of that number, however, 25 related to physical healings, including the amazing stories of three individuals who were actually raised from the dead.
No, the miracles were not more important than what He taught, but were part of the fabric of what He taught, illustrating that God is concerned about the whole of life, not simply the part that makes us worthy of walking through heaven's door at the end of life.
Matthew explained that "Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness." The disciples understood their mission very clearly. It consisted of three parts: First--proclamation, telling the Good News that Christ died, was buried, and rose again the third day. Then came explanation or teaching. When Jesus charged His disciples to go into all the world, He specified, "Go and teach all nations." This means explaining the Bible in clear, simple terms. But following that came restoration or healing whereby the Word was applied to the suffering and pain of a hurting world so that broken lives were restored.
It is here that the church gets failing marks today. We're good at nailing people with John 3:16, and not bad at all explaining what it means, but we're grossly deficient in applying the Word so that wholeness and healing go to the core of our pain and suffering, and we find restoration and health. Churches are full of the walking wounded, and millions are on the outside not knowing that Jesus Christ intended us to have complete healing and help--not simply a spiritual band-aid that belies the pain and suffering which is beneath the surface.
Our English word psychiatry comes from two Greek words, psuche and iatria. The first word means soul, the latter means healing. God's intention was to bring not only salvation to the world, but healing for your wounds and health to your soul--something which medical science cannot nor ever will effect. Healing is more than the elimination of a virus, bacteria, or an injury. It involves complete restoration and wholeness--body, soul, and spirit.
Resource reading: Matthew 9.
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