Related reading: Mark 1:29-45, Matthew 15:29-31
Dr Fountain states that “The healing of sick people played a prominent role in the ministry of Jesus. For Jesus, healing, teaching, and preaching went together. I would go so far as to state that for Jesus, preaching, discipling, teaching, delivering people from demons and curing disease were a seamless part of His ministry. (He did all these in the first 24 hours of His ministry as related in the First Chapter of Mark)
Dr Fountain used to refer to this passage in Mark (it was a passage he referred to frequently) as the first open to all “general” clinic in written history. He even states this is when health care as we know it began! The Matthew passage is a bit different in that it says nothing about Jesus doing any preaching or teaching (though we cannot be absolutely certain of this) but that He spent 3 days healing people of all kinds of dis-eases. This He taught to His followers so that they too could save people from the things that destroy life and that mar God’s image in us.
The early Church did indeed carry on this important ministry and became know as a healing community. Rodney Stark in his 1996 work “The Rise of Christianity” explains how this aided in the relatively rapid expansion of the early Church.
What was so unique to this ministry ushered in by a crucified and risen Savior? It was certainly uniquely powerful in the way in which it combined physical and psychological principles of healing with the miraculous power Jesus gave to the Church to carry on His ministry. As Dr Fountain states “He brought healing to the whole person – body, mind and spirit – and He restored people to functional wholeness and the to their community. And modern medicine is coming to recognize the importance of the impact that feelings, emotions, desires, etc can have on human beings. Painful, conflicting and destructive thoughts can, over time, cause damage to many of our organ systems. As God’s word states in Proverbs 14:30:”A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones.” Amp version. Jesus healed people as whole persons, showing concern for their feelings, emotions and social conditions and by doing the same we can help many sick persons resolve inner problems and broken relationships. This is the unique calling of the Church and should set our health care efforts apart from the rest. Healing is a ministry of the whole church as well as of trained medical people. The healing of sick persons is part of the work of the Kingdom and should point people to Jesus as the Messiah.
- Would you agree with Dr Fountain that the Mark 1 passage discussed represents the first “general clinic” in recorded history? Is it a relevant model for today?
- What role did healing sick people play in the ministry of Jesus? Should it be that way for the 21st century Church? How can it be?
- What is lacking in modern “medical” care? What can we do about it?
- What should our churches be doing to care for the whole person?