A Shattering Event
Jesus began his public ministry with this simple message: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15). That is Jesus’ entire preaching in a nutshell.
Fr. Michael Scanlan said,
The proclamation of the arrival of the kingdom was a shattering event in human history. Jesus was not just another teacher . . . The kingdom he proclaimed is not merely another alternative lifestyle you can accept or reject on the basis of personal preference, lifestyle, convenience, or cultural heritage. The central message of the kingdom cuts through such superficialities and speaks to man about his very life.
It’s a “shattering event” because Jesus came to reclaim what was stolen by the devil. His coming means the downfall of the kingdom of darkness—which doesn’t go without a fight.
Satan exerts enormous influence in human affairs. In Judges, Israel was a loose federation of disunified tribes continually overrun by their enemies. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes”—and chaos resulted (Jgs 21:25). That’s like today’s culture. Everyone does what is right on his own eyes, saying, “No God can tell me what to do.” And chaos results.
Satan’s false kingdom continues for now, but Jesus won the ultimate victory on his cross—restoring everything wounded and lost due to sin. That’s why so much of Jesus’ ministry was healing and delivering people from evil spirits. Healing signifies that God’s kingdom is near.
Jesus Answers with Healings
While in prison, John the Baptist sent a messenger to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” (Mt 11:3) Jesus didn’t immediately answer; He healed the sick. “He cured many of diseases and plagues and evil spirits. And . . . he restored sight” (Lk 7:21-22). Jesus answered John’s question with healings—and still gives that answer today.
Jesus’ mission is to heal all those gripped by sin. God doesn’t directly will sickness; it was unleashed in the world by the Fall. God allows evil to bring a greater good out of it.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith says, “Sickness may have positive consequences”—if embraced in loving union with Jesus’ suffering. Nevertheless, “it remains an evil.” St. John Paul II said a Christian “must fight against (suffering) for himself and for others because he knows that it is an evil, a consequence of the sin of men from the beginning, but when it is inescapable, he carries it in faith.” This is why Catholics and other Christians have spent enormous amounts of energy healing the sick—with hospitals and all the ways people lay down their lives to alleviate suffering.
Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit and with power to set free all those broken, enfeebled, and oppressed by sin—our own sin and sins committed against us (see Acts 10:38).
‘Stretch Out Your Hand’
Look how Jesus healed people. “When he entered the synagogue and taught, a man was there whose right hand was withered” (Lk 6:6). In that culture, most people made their living by manual labor, so an unusable hand was catastrophic. He may not have been able to care for a family or enter the temple.
There also are Old Testament connections. Psalm 137, from the Jews’ exile, says, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither!” (Ps 137:5) This man’s withered hand signifies that God’s people had forgotten God.
Israel’s downfall began when it split into two kingdoms (see 1 Kings). The northern king set up rival sanctuaries with golden calves. When a prophet pronounced judgment on this, the king stretched out his right hand and said, “Seize him!” Immediately, his hand withered. When he asked the prophet to pray for him, his hand was restored. God wants to restore his children.
This man’s healing is a sign that the true king is restoring Israel; no longer will they forget God, because He is in their midst.
Luke 6:7 continues, “The scribes and Pharisees watched him to see if he would cure on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him.” Where’s their compassion? They just want to entrap Jesus. What a tragic commentary on the state of their hearts! “But . . . he said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Come and stand here.’ And he rose” (Lk 6:8)—every healing is a little resurrection, a sign of the ultimate healing that will happen on the Last Day.
Jesus said, “Stretch out your hand” (Lk 6:10). In obedience, he tried, and the impossible became possible. At Jesus’ word, he stretched out his hand, and it was restored. I remember a dramatic healing at my parish. A woman with Parkinsons, who everybody had seen decline, danced down the aisle at a healing service. Healings wake people up: the King is here.
Isaiah 35:3 prophesied about the Messiah: “Strengthen the hands that are feeble. Make firm the knees that are weak. Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong. Fear not. Behold, your God . . . will come and save you.’”
Do any of you have feeble hands? Weak knees? Carpal tunnel, arthritis, etc.? I’ve seen the Lord heal in amazing ways. Do you have an anxious heart? The Lord wants to heal it.
Stepping Out in Fath
I have to take risks in faith to grow as an instrument of healing. At the store, I’d see people walking with canes, and think, “I should talk to them and maybe pray for them,” but I’d chicken out. In prayer, I felt led by the Lord to go out with no other purpose than seeing who He would lead me to.
I got in my car and asked the Lord to give me a word of knowledge about something He wanted to heal. The Lord said, “I want to heal a right ankle.” As I left the parking lot, I came across two people. I said, “This is going to sound strange, but I feel like the Lord sent me here because He wants to heal somebody who has pain in their right ankle.”
One of them responded, “I’ve had serious pain in my right ankle for many years.” I said, “That’s the Holy Spirit!” She let me pray for her and then said it was starting to feel a little better. I asked, “How much?” She started getting kind of nervous, so I talked with them a little bit more and moved on.
Then, I saw a woman limping with a cane. I had to push outside my comfort zone to talk to her. She was very friendly and said she was having knee pain. She let me pray for her but didn’t believe Jesus would heal her. She felt like her condition was partly her own fault. I spoke to her about how the Lord doesn’t heal us because we deserve it or because we’re worthy; He heals because that’s who He is. The Psalms say, “Oh Lord, heal me, because I have sinned” (Ps 41:4).
I prayed and asked her to test out her knees—and she didn’t have pain. We walked a little bit, and then we walked even further. She said, “This is a miracle! There is no pain at all—I could not do this!” The Lord loves to heal—to demonstrate that everything has changed because the kingdom has come.
There’s no sickness, death, or sin in the kingdom. He will wipe the tears from all eyes and free us from every remnant of the Fall (Rv 21:4). Jesus never told someone who asked for healing, “That’s not for you.”
People may not immediately heal in response to prayer—due to a need for deeper healing, interior transformation, or unknown reasons. But when somebody asks Jesus for healing, He has only two answers: yes or later. It may be much later—maybe on the resurrection of the Last Day—but He never answers, “I don’t want you healed.”
‘The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand’
Jesus sent his disciples on mission with instructions to proclaim, “The kingdom . . . is at hand. Heal the sick. Raise the dead. Cleanse lepers. Cast out demons” (Mt 10:7-8). This tells us the kingdom of heaven is here now, although not yet fully. It will not be fully on earth until Jesus comes in glory.
Jesus sent out a larger group of seventy disciples—meaning all of us who are followers of Jesus—and told them, “Heal the sick and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’” (Lk 10:8-9). They returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us and your name” (Lk 10:17). They saw sickness flee, demons run in terror, disabilities healed, and more.
Jesus responded, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread over serpents or scorpions and over all the power of the enemy” (Lk 10:19). He added, “Nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Lk 10:19-20).
Then it says, “In that same hour, He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (Lk 10:21). This is the only time we’re told Jesus rejoiced. Why did He rejoice? He saw his disciples, in obedience to his call, step out in faith, proclaim the kingdom, and demonstrate it with supernatural signs that confirmed the kingdom is here.
Then, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Lk 11:2; emphasis mine). We are praying for the full manifestation when Jesus comes in glory, and also that the kingdom becomes more present now as people’s lives are changed by Jesus and sickness, sin, and death are broken.
Jesus also said: “There are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come in power” (Mk 9:1). Some people think Jesus was mistaken—but maybe they don’t understand Him. Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God. The apostles responded, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) Jesus redirects their thoughts: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. And you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and Judea, and Samaria, unto the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). He’s saying, “This is how my kingdom is going to come. You are going to be filled with my Holy Spirit and bear witness to Me, first here, and then further and further out, leading to my kingship in people’s hearts and lives, in families, in towns, cities, and even cultures. Your witness to me in the power of the Holy Spirit will make my kingdom present on earth.” It happened: the Holy Spirit came, and the disciples went in every direction, proclaiming the kingdom’s arrival and demonstrating it with signs and wonders. Indeed, many of them did not taste death before they saw the kingdom of God come with power.
The world needs to hear that glorious announcement that the king has come and everything changes when you enter his kingdom—which is peace, joy, and righteousness in the Holy Spirit. His kingdom transforms lives, marriages, families, and cultures. Every human is now confronted with a decision. The kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe.
Turn away from your old life—from whatever led you away from God. Turn toward the Lord and believe the Good News—the King is here, and only in Him are we restored to the fullness of life that God always intended for us.
Is Jesus the king of every area of your life: your marriage, relationships, finances, eating habits, recreation, and work conduct? If not, repent. Hand them over to Him. Invite Him to be the king of every part of your life from this day forward.
This post was originally published on RenewalMinistries.net and is reprinted here with permission.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.