Why did Jesus heal people?

When Jesus healed people it was to show them their sins were forgiven. And to a Jew in the first century that was probably the greatest news he could hear, because the entire nation had been waiting for God’s forgiveness for a long time. Forgiveness would be the sign that their time of exile was over and God would restore their nation to its former glory.

It was all there in Isaiah 40:2 – “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” And when would this happen? When they’d hear “A voice of one calling in the desert,” verse 3, “prepare me the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God,” and that’s when, verse 5, “the glory of the Lord will be revealed.”

Imagine being a Jew, then, and hearing John the Baptist in John 1:23 repeat Isaiah 40:3 as a description of himself, and “the next day,” verse 29, when “John saw Jesus coming toward him,” he announces, “‘Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.'” In other words, the forgiveness Isaiah had predicted had arrived.

Jesus then confirmed John’s announcement when he healed a paralyzed man in Mark 2:10, so that “you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” Healing was Jesus’ way of showing them he truly was the Lamb of God who’d come to forgive their sins. And with forgiveness came the realization that their long-awaited time of healing had come, and a new future beckoned.

And when James wrote to “the twelves tribes scattered among the nations” in chapter 1:1, he gave them the same message, that if any of them had sinned they would be forgiven, James 5:15 – so feel free, therefore, to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

Again, healing and forgiveness went hand-in-hand, as evidence that God had forgiven Israel’s sins, and a prayer offered by an Israelite elder in belief of that, verse 16, would “make the sick person well,” and “the Lord will raise him up.” A believing prayer in what God had now made possible through Jesus was that “powerful and effective” in healing the damage sin had done to them (verse 16).

So when Jesus came healing people it told the Jews and the rest of the scattered tribes that their exile was truly over and God had truly forgiven them, and a new ere had begun of making them well again.


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