I don’t know about you, but I pray for healing quite a bit. Sometimes it’s for myself; other times it’s for others, but asking for God’s help to heal us (whether miraculously, or through experts) is a pretty common prayer topic, I think. After all, illness is right in our face when we have pain (or other problems with our physical selves), and it’s tangible enough that we can share with others. (I think that most people are more willing to pray that an upcoming surgery will go well, or that they will be healed from an illness, versus sharing their spiritual struggles or emotional challenges.)
When we ask God for healing, though, do we consider what will happen when He answers our prayers? While He sometimes knows that sickness must remain (for a time, or even until the start of eternity), there are many times when He answers those prayers directly, providing healing to the sick. When that happens, what do we do?
A lot of people give God the credit for His help, and rightly so. In addition, though, there’s something else that a man who was healed by Jesus did in the following passage:
But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.
Matthew 9:6-8 NIV
So, what did the formerly-paralyzed man do after he was healed by Jesus? He was obedient to Jesus’ instructions. They weren’t complicated, and once the man was healed, he was perfectly capable of following them, so he “got up and went home”.
Can you imagine what might have happened if Jesus healed the man, but then, having grown accustomed to being paralyzed, the man just decided to keep lying on his mat? What sort of laziness and insolence would the man be showing if he felt the strength in his body, and yet didn’t use it when Jesus told him to get up and go home?
Instead, though, by being obedient after Jesus healed him, this man is a good example for us.
If we are healed physically, should we go out and live in rebellion against the one who saved us? That just doesn’t seem right. Similarly, for those who have been healed spiritually by Jesus, upon receiving His salvation, it would be rude not to obey Him afterwards, and instead continue to sin like before we were saved.
Why do followers of Jesus obey His (God’s) teachings? It’s not to earn salvation, that’s for sure. Instead, obedience to God is a result of love for Him (see chapters 14 and 15 of the book of John to learn what Jesus said about this). Maybe your motivation is more like gratitude, respect, or reverence, but obeying God is something we get to choose.
And, this doesn’t just mean “not sinning” once we are saved. It includes getting up and going out and doing real work for the kingdom of God. We’re not saved to lie on our mats, but to get up and do something with our healed selves.
Now, for those who worry about sinning after they are saved, consider this: I can imagine this guy jumping up after he was healed, and dancing around a little bit. When Jesus healed him, he was probably pretty excited.
What if, though, as he was going out the door, he tripped over something? First off, the crowd would probably give that little chuckle-snort (the one that we do when we burst out laughing in reaction to something like this, but then we immediately realize that this wasn’t polite and have to suppress it right away). However, once the man got back up on his feet, he would still be healed and if he kept heading home (as Jesus had told him to), he would still be obedient.
In the same way, once we are trying to follow Jesus after He saves us from the penalty of our sins, we might stumble from time to time. Others might mock us or laugh at us – openly! – when we do, but doing the wrong thing once in a while doesn’t make us any less healed from the consequences of our sins. Our opportunity to live in obedience continues, even if we’re not perfect at it.
What was the result of Jesus healing the sin-stained and paralyzed man? People praised God! Even though Jesus was God, He still set an example for us, as He led people to praise God the Father.
So, in all things, may God be praised by what we do, as well as Him receiving praise through to the responses of others to the good news that we share with them.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for April 11, 2021
- Christian Standard, Volume CLVI, Number 4, pages 85-86. © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Matthew, by Larry Chouinard. College Press Publishing Company, © 1997, p.167-174.