He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.
I remember, in the early years of my ministry, being approached by a member of the congregation who asked me to pray for her healing. I laid hands on her and prayed. Two or three weeks later she came up to me and thanked me for my prayer, and for her healing. I have to confess that my initial response, which I kept hidden from her, was that of astonishment. Although in my teenage years we’d had a ministerial friend of the family who exercised a healing ministry, I hadn’t imagined that I might follow in her footsteps, even in a very small way.
In Jesus’ day, the power of the healing that he made possible drew crowds of people. Over the centuries people have debated about the role of healing in the Church. In some places the emphasis on healing has led to the provision of hospitals, health care centres and healing missions in different parts of the world. Healing has been seen as embracing the whole person and the whole of creation.
In today’s passage the healing Jesus offers is freely available for people who come from a variety of different places. They come knowing their need and looking for a word of promise. Healing and teaching are drawn together in the power of Jesus’ ministry. He speaks words that heal the broken human condition and comes with power that touches people’s lives.
There are many different ways in which God opens up healing – in personal lives, in relationships, through communities, in the work of nurses and doctors, through the National Health Service. Healing begins with recognising our need, whether personal or social, trusting in God’s desire for healing and wholeness, and prayerfully seeking the ways in which that desire can be lived out in ministries of healing.
O God, giver of healing and wholeness, may I see my own need for healing, and receive the touch of your presence in my life.
As I receive from you, so may I reach out to others.
I give thanks for places and people of healing, individuals, communities, churches, the NHS…
I pray for your healing to be present in the lives of hurting people and in the midst of a broken world.
The Rev’d Elizabeth Welch, Minister at Clapton Park URC, Hackney