Sermon title: Why Isn’t Every Believer Healed? Luke 5:12-25
Immanuel Baptist Church – March 18, 2018
As we just read in our responsive reading,
our Lord Jesus healed countless people
during the 3 ½ years
when he ministered here on earth.
He gave sight to the blind,
cured leprosy, raised up paralytics
and even raised the dead.
So, why aren’t we all healed today,
when we turn to Jesus as our Lord and Savior?
And why do Christian believers
continue to grow old, get sick, and die?
Before we look at God’s answers to these questions,
let’s look more closely
at the passage we just read.
Our reading begins with Luke Chapter 5, Verse 12,
and it is found in the bulletin insert.
Matthew, Mark and Luke all record these events,
but Mark and Luke provide the most details.
So, starting at Luke 5:12, we read,
a man came along who was covered with leprosy.
Matthew and Mark refer to the man simply as “a leper.”
But leprosy is a progressive disease,
and this man didn’t have just a touch of it,
or the early stages of it.
Rather, Luke who was a medical doctor
gives a more exact diagnosis,
and says the man “was covered with leprosy.”
So, he was diseased over most or all of his body.
There was no cure or treatment for it in those days,
so the prognosis for such a man was not good.
He was terminally ill.
Continuing in the middle of Verse 12,
When he saw Jesus,
he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you are willing,
you can make me clean."
How did this man know
that Jesus could cure someone
in such a hopeless condition?
God must have given him such strong faith.
Verse 13 says,
13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.
"I am willing," he said. "Be clean!"
And immediately the leprosy left him.
14 Then Jesus ordered him,
"Don't tell anyone, but go,
show yourself to the priest and offer
the sacrifices that Moses commanded
for your cleansing, as a testimony to them."
In the Bible book of Leviticus,
the third book of Moses—just after Genesis and Exodus—
chapters 13 and 14 go on for nearly 100 verses
with instructions from God
on how to diagnose leprosy,
and how to distinguish it from other skin diseases.
God told the Jews
to quarantine people with these contagious diseases,
and this protected the nation of Israel.
During the period of quarantine,
the Jewish priests repeatedly examined the ill person.
If the disease spread in the skin,
and it was determined to be leprosy,
the quarantine became permanent.
The person had to avoid contact with healthy people,
to keep the disease from
infecting the whole community.
If the skin cleared up,
and the disease stopped spreading,
the person was to offer certain specific sacrifices
at God’s altar.
And that’s what Jesus referred to here.
“go, show yourself to the priest
and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded
for your cleansing, as a testimony to them."
The priests had already observed this man,
diagnosed his leprosy,
and permanently quarantined him.
So, when this man
showed up again completely healed,
it would be a testimony to the priests,
that Jesus was from God.
Jesus also told the man,
"Don't tell anyone”—that is, aside from the priests.
But Mark 1:45 says,
“Instead he went out and began to talk freely,
spreading the news.”
So, as we continue in Luke Chapter 5, Verse 15, it says,
15 Yet the news about him spread all the more,
so that crowds of people came to hear him
and to be healed of their sicknesses.
16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places
So many people were coming to Jesus for healing,
that he could have spent all his time doing just that.
He never turned away those who came,
but he often “withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
Jesus kept on preaching and teaching, as well.
And keeping up his relationship with the Father
through prayer was very important.
But starting at Luke 5, Verse 17,
we read of another amazing healing Jesus performed.
17 One day as he was teaching,
Pharisees and teachers of the law,
who had come from every village of Galilee
and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there.
And the power of the Lord was present
for him to heal the sick.
18 Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat
and tried to take him into the house
to lay him before Jesus.
19 When they could not find a way to do this
because of the crowd,
they went up on the roof
and lowered him on his mat
through the tiles into the middle of the crowd,
right in front of Jesus.
20 When Jesus saw their faith,
he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven."
21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law
began thinking to themselves,
"Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy?
Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked,
"Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?
1 Kings 8:39 tells us that God alone
know the hearts of all men.
So, Jesus was proving his divinity
by disclosing what the Pharisees and teachers of the law
Jesus continued in Verse 23,
23 Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?
24 But that you may know that the Son of Man
has authority on earth to forgive sins...."
He said to the paralyzed man,
"I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home."
25 Immediately he stood up in front of them,
took what he had been lying on
and went home praising God.
26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God.
They were filled with awe and said,
"We have seen remarkable things today."
Amazing healings like this
show us what God can do.
They also show us that God wants to heal the sick.
That man who was full of leprosy said,
"Lord, if you are willing,
you can make me clean,"
and Jesus answered in the the NIV, New International Version,
“I am willing.”
Some other translations render that,
“Lord, if you want to,
you can make me clean.”
And Jesus answered, in various translations,
“I want to.”
“I do want to.”
“Certainly I want to.”
“Of course I want to.”
So, God wants to heal the sick—all who are sick and in pain.
He cares about us.
Mark 1:41 says,
that Jesus was “filled with compassion”
or “moved with pity” for the man.
Jesus cares about all of us.
So, we come back to that same question:
Why isn’t every believer healed?
And why do even faithful Christians grow old and die?
There are two false doctrines regarding healing
that have deceived millions of people today.
One is the “health and wealth” doctrine,
also called the “prosperity gospel,”
that teaches God will make you healthy and wealthy,
if you have enough faith.
It says that, if you aren’t rich and healthy,
it’s your fault,
because you lack the faith to “name it and claim it.”
The other false doctrine,
at the opposite extreme,
is that people could get healed in New Testament times,
but not today—
that it was just something
that happened back then.
Both doctrines are false.
The truth lies somewhere in between.
People get convinced of those extreme doctrines
by listening to false teachers.
But simply reading the Bible itself,
reveals the truth on these matters.
It’s important to notice that everyone didn’t get healed back then.
Jesus and the Apostles healed many people
to prove that Jesus was the Messiah,
and to help people put faith in him,
and to give us hope
of a time when all will be healed.
But thousands of people
who became Christians back then
continued to get sick and die,
just as we do today.
Consider, for example, what we read about the Apostle Paul,
at Galatians Chapter 4, Verse 13.
If everyone with enough faith got healed,
then we would certainly expect
the Apostle Paul not to be sick.
But Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatian church
about how sick he had been—
apparently with a disease involving his eyes—
when he visited Galatia.
It seems that the illness prevented Paul from traveling on,
so he stayed in Galatia and preached the Gospel to them.
At Galatians 4, beginning in Verse 13, we read,
As you know, it was because of an illness
that I first preached the gospel to you.
Even though my illness was a trial to you,
you did not treat me with contempt or scorn.
Instead, you welcomed me
as if I were an angel of God,
as if I were Christ Jesus himself.
What has happened to all your joy?
I can testify that, if you could have done so,
you would have torn out your eyes
and given them to me.
Paul had strong faith,
but there were times
when he was terribly ill.
At Acts 14:10,
we read that a man who was born crippled
was healed instantly,
when Paul commanded him to stand up on his feet.
But Paul himself did not receive a miraculous healing.
At 2 Corinthians 12, beginning at Verse 7[ OPEN ]
Paul says that he prayed
for himself to be healed.
But the answer to his prayer was NO.
If we read Paul’s words there
at 2 Corinthians 12:7,
we can see how he accepted
that his painful illness would not be healed
at that time.
To keep me from becoming conceited
because of these surpassingly great
revelations, there was given me a thorn
in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to
take it away from me.
But he said to me, "My grace is
sufficient for you, for my power is made
perfect in weakness." Therefore I will
boast all the more gladly about my
weaknesses, so that Christ's power may
rest on me.
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight
in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,
in persecutions, in difficulties. For when
I am weak, then I am strong.
That certainly proves false
the “name it and claim it” “health and wealth”
The Apostle Paul certainly had strong faith—
enough to heal the crippled and make them walk—
but he himself was not healed.
The Lord told Paul why,
but in our own case, we may not know why.
And that’s when we need to just trust in God.
In the book of Job,
we read about how Satan the devil
challenged God in regard to Job’s health.
It’s a long story,
but Job had to endure sores all over his body.
We can read the book of Job
and understand why God allowed him to be sick,
but in our own case,
we can’t see what’s going on in heaven,
so we just need to trust in God.
Another example of a believer with strong faith
who was sick nevertheless,
would be Timothy.
Paul wrote 1st and 2nd Timothy as letters to him,
and if we look at 1 Timothy 5:23,[ OPEN ]
we’ll see that this young Christian
was often ill.
But at 1 Timothy 5:23 Paul wrote to him,
“Stop drinking only water,
and use a little wine
because of your stomach
and your frequent illnesses.”
So, the illnesses Paul and Timothy experienced
prove that sickness
cannot be blamed on lack of faith.
God does answer prayer and heal,
but for the most part,
we Christians face the same illnesses as everyone else.
In fact, it’s obvious
that all the Christians who lived in Bible days
eventually got old, sick and died.
Otherwise we’d still see them in church today,
faithful Christians around 2000 years old!
But, God has not stopped healing people.
There are many examples of people today
who have received miraculous healings from Jesus
in answer to prayer.
In fact, I experienced a miraculous healing myself
when I was a brand-new Christian.
It was the same day when I came to Jesus as a sinner
and asked him to save me
and to be my Lord and Savior.
Until 1982, I belonged to the Jehovah’s Witness sect
for many years.
I was “presiding overseer” of a JW Kingdom Hall,
which is what they call the pastor of their church.
One of their beliefs
is that Jesus was just an angel—not God—
just an angel who came to earth in human form.
They say you can’t pray to Jesus,
and can’t have a personal relationship with him as your Savior.
Another one of their beliefs
is that God does not answer personal prayers today—
and especially does not heal anyone today.
Well, after about 3 years studying the Bible’s true doctrines,
Penni and I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses,
and wanted to become real Christians.
So the day came when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.
Well, later that day,
I had had a very stressful day at my secular job.
It gave me a problem with my right eye.
It was vibrating uncontrollably,
and kept vibrating. It wouldn’t stop.
Then it occurred to me
to ask God for healing,
since the Jehovah’s Witnesses must be wrong on that,
just as they were wrong on so many other things.
and immediately my eye stopped vibrating
and returned to normal.
Now, that wasn’t a major healing—
like raising up a paralytic
or curing someone full of leprosy—
but it was exactly what I needed at that moment.
And it helped confirm for me
that Jesus is real,
and that I was now in a new, real relationship with him.
Since that time, of course,
I’ve had many illnesses
that did not get cured miraculously.
I went to the doctor, and got medicine, or had an operation
to get relief.
But that time when I was instantly healed in answer to prayer
helps us see that,
both in Bible times and today as well,
miraculous healings were often done for a purpose—
to bring people to faith,
or to strengthen people’s faith.
It strengthened my faith
that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were wrong,
and that the real Jesus of the Bible
is alive today,
and that He calls us to come to Him today,
and can heal today
So, why doesn’t Jesus heal everyone today?
To understand that, we need to know why
we get sick and die in the first place.
And that takes us back to the first humans, Adam and Eve,
in the Garden of Eden.
Satan the devil led Adam to sin,
and to bring sickness and death upon us all.
Romans 5:12 says that,
“sin entered the world through one man,
and death through sin,
and in this way death came to all men.”
Because we are all descendants of Adam,
we have all inherited death through him.
And that death comes in various ways.
If something doesn’t kill us early in life,
we all eventually get old, get sick, and die.
But, as soon as Satan, through Adam and Eve,
brought sin into the world,
and death through sin,
God’s plan of salvation kicked in.
And that plan of salvation
was for Jesus to come,
and to die on the cross,
to break up the works of the devil,
and undo all the harm he has done.
Isaiah chapter 53 prophesies,[ OPEN ]
that the Christ would come
and would take our sicknesses upon himself,
so that we can be healed
and gain everlasting life.
Beginning in Verse 4, Isaiah 53 says,
“Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace
was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.”
Because Jesus accomplished that on the cross,
he can do as Revelation 21:4 says—that
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death
or mourning or crying or pain.”
But all of this will happen in God’s timing, not ours.
In the meantime,
we need to exercise faith,
and trust in the hope ahead—
the hope that Jesus won for us on the cross of Calvary.
In God’s timing,
he will take away all sickness and pain and death.
And those who die in Christ
will live with him forever without sickness or pain.
But, why not heal all Christians in the meantime—right now?
Well, just think about it.
If that happened,
the church would be filled,
bulging at the seams,
with people who came for the wrong reason—
just to get healed.
In the book of Job, chapters 1 and 2,
Satan accused Job of serving God
only to receive blessings and good health.
The rest of the book of Job goes on
to prove that Job wasn’t like that.
He was faithful to God,
even after Satan took away his wealth and his good health.
But there are many others who are not like Job.
In John chapter 6,
when Jesus fed 5000 people miraculously
using just a few loaves of bread,
thousands showed up again the next day—
just looking for another handout.
At John 6:26-27 Jesus told them,
“‘I tell you the truth,
you are looking for me,
not because you saw miraculous signs
but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.
Do not work for food that spoils,
but for food that endures to eternal life.’”
When Christian missionaries
gave out free rice in Third World countries,
their missions where filled with people
calling themselves “Christians.”
But when the rice stopped,
the people stopped coming.
They were what came to be called “Rice Christians.”
Jesus isn’t calling Rice Christians.
He is calling us to pick up our cross and follow him—
to follow in his footsteps.
He promised us suffering and tribulation in this world—
with rewards in the world to come.
He suffered and died for us,
and he calls many believers suffer and die for him—
like Paul and the other Apostles did.
Can we still pray for healing?
Yes, we do it every week, right here in church.
And Jesus does heal today:
-- sometimes miraculously,
and sometimes through the hands of the doctors.
But the answer to our prayers can also be “Not now, but later.”
Our healing may come now,
or it may come later, in God’s Kingdom.
Even Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
prayed for his suffering to pass,
but for his Father’s will to be done.
And we need to have the same attitude.
Hebrews 12:2 says of Jesus that
“for the joy set before him
he endured the cross.”
And he is our example.
For the joy set before us,
we can endure whatever we must face now in this world.