Links between ‘salvation’ and ‘healing’
Today is a day of ‘new beginnings’! Earlier Richard was being commissioned as he takes on the new role of Worship and Training Co-ordinator. Our Bible reading today relates the start of Jesus’ ministry and it is interesting the aspects of ministry that Matthew emphasises.
Matthew 4 v 17 ‘From that time on Jesus began to preach; “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.”’ Then in v23ff Jesus went throughout Galilee teaching in their synagogues, preaching the ‘good news’ of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness among the people. Preaching, teaching and healing whilst encouraging repentance. That’s a good summary of Jesus ministry as viewed from Matthew’s point of view. Let’s look at these three aspects in turn.
Preaching. The Greek word ‘kerubbein’ describes the work of a herald in a Greek city, similar role to a town crier in towns in our country. The herald gained people’s attention and then proclaimed the message that they wanted to get across in a loud, bold and clear voice. Effective preaching today has the same arresting quality which far transcends the preacher themselves.
Teaching or ‘didache’ in Greek is different from preaching. Often teaching is to a smaller group of people and it designed to impart knowledge, clear up misunderstandings, explain difficult ideas and change attitudes. As we read on in Matthew’s gospel there will be and extended time of teaching in what we know now as ‘the Sermon on the Mount’. Michael Green distinguishes between these two separate ministries when he explains “Teaching is primarily directed to informing the mind whilst preaching towards changing the will.”
But the ministry of Jesus was like a three-legged stool. It was only balanced if it included the healing ministry and Jesus healed every kind of adversity: physical illness or impairment, mental illness and demonic influence. Do you notice, even in Jesus’ day it is possible to distinguish between these different aspects of ‘healing’.
Kingdom ministry should embrace all three aspects of Jesus ministry and when a church is truly carrying out the work of the Kingdom, all three will be evident. Although a church may lack the power, immediacy and effectiveness of Jesus since Jesus shares the nature of God himself, we should be welcoming and encouraging, effective preaching, clear teaching and prayer ministry with the expectation of healings in body, mind and spirit.
Worth comparing the Kingdom ministry summarised by Matthew with Luke’s as he recounts it in what is called the Lucan Manifesto in Luke 4. This was the occasion that Jesus stood in the synagogue in Nazareth and read from the scroll a portion of Isaiah.
“The Spirit of the LORD is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour.” In summary preach, freedom, sight and forgiveness.
Throughout Jesus’ public ministry there is always a link between repentance and physical release, forgiveness and freedom, salvation and healing. Do you recall Mark’s account of the healing of the paralytic, the man lowered through the roof of the house at Capernaum.
Mark 2 v 2 It says “Jesus preached the word to them.”
Mark 2 v 5 When he saw their faith he said “Your sins are forgiven.”
Mark 2 v 9 When the Pharisees questioned his authority he asked “Which is easier to say? ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Be healed.’
Preaching leading to forgiveness and healing.
This is not surprising since the Greek words for salvation and healing derive from the same root. Sotiria means salvation and sozo means healing but can also be used to express wholeness, being saved or being born again! Do you recall Jesus discussion with Nicodemus on this as recorded in John 3?
It is not only in New Testament that there is this connection between salvation and healing. The beginning of one of my favourite Psalms 103 reads: ‘Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases.’
You will have noticed, the way that cathedrals including Blackburn, Lichfield and more locally, Salisbury have been used as vaccination centres. There was a lady interviewed who was asked “How did it feel receiving your vaccination in a cathedral whilst listening to organ music.” The lady said “It was strangely comforting. As we are being physically protected from the virus, our spirits are being renewed as well following this last traumatic year!”
So healing is connected to renewal of our spirit and more specifically forgiveness and salvation, and its only Jesus who can accomplish this because Jesus is the Son of God.
If a good man or woman died on the cross or sacrificed their life it would have been noteworthy – many good men and women have been martyred for their faith. However, it is only Jesus’s death, the death of God’s own Son that effected salvation for us all. Jesus is the Saviour, because he ‘saves yer’ from your sins.
It is this that is at the heart of Jesus’ ministry. All the preaching, teaching and healing is centred on salvation and the saving of you and me from the penalty for our sins.
“Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near,” says Jesus in 1st century Palestine and the same cry should be upon our lips, some 20 centuries later.
With every breath you take you are loved.
Each morning when you wake, you are loved.
Every second of every day, you are loved.
On your best day and on your worst, you are –
Endlessly, perfectly and unconditionally loved by God. Amen
Category: Prayers , Sermons , Services , The Bridge