Jesus Gives Authority to Heal the Sick

Title: Jesus Gives Authority to Heal the Sick

Text: Matthew 10:1

Date: May 10th, 2009

Last week we began Matthew 10:1 learning in the first half of the verse about how Jesus gives his disciples the authority to cast out demons; now I’d like to explain the last half of the verse – how Jesus gives his disciples the authority to heal the sick. Matthew 10:1, “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits, and to heal every disease and sickness.” Now before I get into an explanation of the meaning of the last half of this verse I’d like to stop and clarify something that may have come up last week, but something I didn’t talk about that may come up this week as I finish explaining the verse: Jesus is addressing his original disciples and giving them certain authority; how do we know that he gives us the same or similar authority today as his contemporary disciples? Last week I basically assumed that when Jesus addressed his original disciples he was also speaking to all disciples of all ages, including our own age, including all of us as Christian disciples today. Is my assumption correct? In other words, as I taught last week, Jesus gives his disciples the authority to drive out demons, but was that authority limited to only the original disciples? After all, Jesus was talking specifically to the original twelve, not to anyone else. True, he was speaking to the original and first disciples in this passage, but there are other passages in the Gospel accounts where he gives the same authority to other disciples. Luke 10:17-20, “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’” So here are seventy-two disciples of Jesus, a larger group, who were given authority to cast out demons and heal just as the original twelve. So that is another piece of evidence that demonstrates that such authority wasn’t limited only to the first twelve disciples. But what about the argument that states Jesus gave these two groups direct authority to cast out demons and heal the sick, but for others and especially us today, we have no direct authority from Jesus to cast out demons or heal the sick. That is true; we don’t have the direct authority of Jesus to do these things, but evidently we don’t need direct authority personally to each and every one of us today to do them, because there are others even in the New Testament who did them and never received direct personal authority from the Lord himself. For example, in the Book of Acts, we see the Apostle Paul casting out demons and healing the sick, but there is no indication that he received direct authority from Jesus to do so. It’s the same case with others as well. The truth is, Christians don’t need direct authority personally from Jesus to each one of them before they can begin to cast out demons and heal the sick – Jesus gives them such authority when they become Christians. It comes with the package! So today when I teach on healing the sick, we don’t have to ask Jesus for the special authority to do so because we already have it by virtue of being Christian. But what does this general authority from the Lord cover in the life of a Christian? I find three general areas.

First, Jesus gives his disciples the authority to heal the soul. Matthew 10:1, “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits, and to heal every disease and sickness.” Last week I talked about the authority of Christians to cast out demons. When evil spirits are forced to leave in Jesus’ name that is a form of spiritual healing. Demon possession is a form of spiritual sickness, so when Jesus gives his disciples the authority to cast out demons he is really giving them the authority to heal the soul or spirit of people who are spiritually sick. But it includes more than just persons afflicted with evil spirits; it includes all types of spiritual infirmities, including and primarily referring to the lost or unsaved condition of unbelievers. Jesus gives his disciples the authority to preach and teach the gospel to the unsaved so that they might receive salvation, which is the ultimate spiritual healing. What does the Great Commission say in Matthew 28:18-20? “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very ends of the age.’” Jesus gives his disciples the authority to heal the souls of lost men and women through preaching and teaching the gospel, seeing people repent and believe, and baptizing these new converts. Salvation is the ultimate spiritual healing of the soul. A lost, unregenerate soul is spiritually sick. In fact, the Bible talks about an unconverted soul as spiritually dead. So part of the authority to heal the sick is to bring salvation to lost souls. Another area of soul healing is in spiritual counseling. Christians have the authority from Jesus to do spiritual counseling and see persons healed of diseases and sicknesses of the soul. Demonic possession or oppression or attack is just one area of spiritual disease that may be healed through the prayers and direct intervention of other Christians, but there are other soul sicknesses that can be addressed. For example, sin is a form of soul sickness, particularly a persistent and habitual sin. The Great Commission gives Christians individually and the Christian church corporately the assignment of making disciples of all people. The discipleship process officially begins when a person converts, when their sins are forgiven, when they receive salvation. But the actual process of discipleship – of following Jesus every day in every way – is a long and difficult road. Sin and temptation are constant problems for the life of a new Christian as well as mature Christians also. Another very common soul sickness is persistent sin. By the authority of Jesus, we as Christians, as disciples of Jesus, have the authority to counsel and help people overcome sin and temptation. The most common occurrence of this is in the form of hearing a confession. The Book of James says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective,” James 5:16. Simple prayers can bring about great spiritual healing. Jesus gives his disciples the authority to heal the soul. But that’s not all.

Second, Jesus gives his disciples the authority to heal the mind. Matthew 10:1, “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits, and to heal every disease and sickness.” Because the human person is interconnected, mind, body and soul, it is impossible to separate each part into airtight compartments. Sometimes a spiritual sickness can spill over into a mental illness, and sometimes psychological problems can break out into physical or behavioral problems. So in talking about each separate part we shouldn’t think that it’s always so neatly divided as it may seem. It’s curious that we don’t see Jesus and the disciples dealing very much directly with mental or psychological problems in the New Testament. We don’t see a lot of what we know today as therapeutic counseling in the Bible – or do we? It didn’t take place as it does today – in professional settings, in offices, with official counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists or therapists. But I believe if we look closely to the many conversations found in the Bible we’ll see counseling taking place and mental health issues being addressed and mental healing taking place. For example, in John 4:1-42, we see and hear a conversation between the Lord Jesus and a woman at a well. While this conversation would not be considered, by modern standards, a counseling session, it was all that practically speaking, because basically what happened was this woman with all kinds of sins and issues had a conversation with Jesus – for how long we don’t know, minutes or hours – but the end result was she not only received spiritual healing (her soul was saved), but she found mental health as well, or at least was on the road to recovery. In my experience as a pastor I’ve often found that a person’s mental or emotional sickness is in some way related to a spiritual component in their life. In fact, I’d go as far as saying most mental or emotional or psychological problems spring from some deeper spiritual problem. I say most because not all mental health issues are spiritual issues; there can be chemical imbalances in the brain, for example, that have nothing to do with spiritual causes. But most of the time, in my experience, there is a spiritual issue that needs to be dealt with before the emotional issue can be addressed. Unfortunately today we have an entire mental health profession that tries to address emotional and psychological problems while completely ignoring the spiritual dimension of a person’s life, which probably explains why the mental health profession has very little success in bringing about lasting mental health. Really. You would think by the sheer number of psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and therapists in the United States today we’d be, mentally speaking, the healthiest population on earth. Wrong. In fact, a case could be made that we are the unhealthiest society as far as mental health is concerned. Because mental health professionals think they can cure mental illnesses without dealing with spiritual causes, the whole field is called into question. But as Christians we have the authority in Jesus’ name to counsel people, pray with people, and help people overcome their mental and emotional problems. By bringing God’s Word, the Bible, to bear on specific problems, we can speak truth and healing into the lives of our loved ones, family members, neighbors, co-workers and anyone and everyone who will listen. Jesus gives his disciples the authority to heal the mind. But there’s one more thing.

Third, Jesus gives his disciples the authority to heal the body. Matthew 10:1, “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits, and to heal every disease and sickness.” Today, through the advance of science and medicine, we know a lot about healing the body – a lot more than the ancient people knew. We should thank God for every bit of medical knowledge available today for healing the body through medicine. There is no incompatibility between healing through medicine and healing through prayer. Every once in a while we read in the newspapers about parents withholding medicine or medical treatment from their child because they are believers in God’s ability to heal through prayer and therefore refuse to take their child to the doctor for medical help. Often the child gets sick or even dies in such cases. The secular media is quick to blame Christianity and the teachings of the Bible as the cause of such irresponsible behavior. But there really is no point to such criticisms. The Bible doesn’t ever teach that we shouldn’t seek medical attention when we are sick; it simply teaches that we can also pray, and that we should pray for those who are sick that they may be healed. There is no contradiction. I would say that whenever anyone is physically sick, today, they should pray for God to heal them and go to the doctor also. That’s what I always do. I don’t think, “I’m going to the doctor, I don’t need to pray.” Neither do I think, “I don’t need to go to the doctor, I’ve prayed for healing.” No. I think it’s only common sense to do both. But what we as Christians have is another option to modern medicine, we have prayer in addition. We don’t have to depend entirely on doctors, medications, treatments, hospitals, etc. We can turn to God for help, not just the medical community. We have the authority from Jesus Christ to pray for the sick and expect when it is in God’s will to see healing. I not only know this from the clear teachings in the Bible but I also know it from experience. I’ve seen supernatural, miraculous healings with my own eyes. I’ve seen cancer victims healed and sent home from the hospital. I’ve prayed for the healing of people with many types of diseases and sicknesses – and I’ve seen all kinds of physical healings take place also. Jesus gives his disciples the authority to heal the body. But here’s a word of warning. Just as we are given the general authority by Jesus to heal the sick, that shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that we should expect 100% guaranteed healing every time. Remember, we carry the general authority all Christians have to heal the sick. Our authority is given to us indirectly by Jesus through the New Testament teachings and through our spiritual connection with Christ. That’s different from the situation with the original disciples of Jesus. They had direct authority personally given to them from Christ to heal every sickness and disease. You might ask, “What’s the difference between having Jesus give you direct personal authority to do something versus indirect general authority to do something?” This is it. The disciples had the authority “to heal every disease and sickness” – that’s what it says. You and I don’t have that kind of personal, spiritual authority. I don’t know of anyone, anywhere, charismatic, Pentecostal, anybody, who has the authority to heal 100% guaranteed. But these disciples had the authority given to them directly and personally from Christ to do just that. So there are advantages to being the original disciples, no question. But here’s the thing – we don’t need to worry about that, we just need to pray for people, whether they have a spiritual sickness, a mental illness or a physical sickness. And we need to leave the results to God, period.

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