A minister friend of mine who spent some time in America loved to tell the story of a preacher he knew who had a healing ministry. Whenever he gathered people for an evening meeting which offered prayer for healing, this preacher would turn up on stage (and yes, there was a stage) wearing a brilliant white suit and carrying a huge black leather bible under his arm. At the point of offering prayer for any who sought healing, he would throw the bible dramatically down on the stage, stand on it (a literal interpretation of ‘standing on the word of God’, I think), and in a loud voice declare healing for whatever ailments were being addressed.
It takes all sorts, doesn’t it? But whilst we might feel a little uncomfortable with this particular expression of ‘kingdom ministry’, it is true that when it comes to healing prayer we often rely on methods. The modern church loves novelty, and also loves technique – two dominant themes of the culture around us, which we’ve adopted perhaps a little too uncritically into our worshipping life.
What I find amazing about Jesus’ healing ministry – alongside the very fact of the marvellous miracles themselves – is that with Jesus there is no ‘method’. He does it a different way every time: sometimes he touches people, sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes he’s right there with the person, sometimes he prays remotely. Sometimes there’s a large crowd, sometimes it’s only for a few to witness. Sometimes he’s in a synagogue, sometimes a house, sometimes the open air. And on this occasion, he sticks his fingers in the man’s ears and then puts spit on his tongue! (Just to reassure you, if you approach me with an ear problem, I will probably stop short of jamming my fingers into your lugholes! Though don’t rule anything out…)
And yet… ‘People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said.’ (v37) This wonderful acclamation at the end of the passage makes it clear that what Jesus does well is the fruit of what happens, not the method or technique. The method varies every time: there’s no obvious pattern, just a heart open to the Lord’s leading and a life willing to be used by God.
Jesus does everything well. It’s a remarkable thought, isn’t it? It’s not often the way we talk about Jesus – but it’s true. We don’t always understand the how and the why, but we can marvel at the outcome. Today, let’s seize faith to believe that Jesus continues to do all things well. And let’s pray for healing for any who need it, taking heart from the fact that what we say and how we do it doesn’t matter – what matters is the One to whom we offer it, the One who does everything well.