13 When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.
14 And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.
32 Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda.
33 There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed.
34 And Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed." Then he arose immediately.
35 So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
On Christmas Eve 1987, a worship pastor named Delia Knox was in a car accident and was paralyzed from the waist down. The unwritten "rule" among doctors caring for spinal cord injuries is that such injuries simply don't heal on their own, but Mrs. Knox did not let that stop her. She has become quite the gospel powerhouse down in Alabama, where she and her husband Bishop Levy Knox pastor Living World Christian Center. She still belts out worship and praise from her wheelchair as loudly as ever--or, at least, she did. Two weeks ago at a revival meeting where British evangelist Nathan Morris prayed over her, Delia Knox felt a tingling in her legs. As Mr. Morris and others continued to pray, Pastor Knox did something she hadn't done in twenty-two years: she stood up from her wheelchair and started to walk.
It cannot have been easy being Jesus. He walked up and down the whole region of Samaria, Galilee, and Judea with anywhere from twelve to a hundred disciples tagging along. He was virtually never alone. No sooner would He try to find a quiet place to pray than folks would seek Him out for healing and teaching. As it says in the verses above from the Gospel of Matthew, people came out from the cities into the wilderness to find Jesus. In this instance, Jesus had just heard about the death of John the Baptist, and so He set out to find a secluded place. The people followed.
As the Son of God, Jesus certainly could have enforced His seclusion. Ten thousand angels might have come down to keep the masses away. But that's not the way Jesus lived and worked. Instead of sending them away and keeping to Himself, Jesus "was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick."
Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
That is the kind of God we love and worship: "His compassions fail not." Jesus was and is never without compassion for us.
12 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
13 "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."
Because God's compassions do not fail, and because He never wants to leave us without the power to do things that will glorify Him just as Jesus did, the Lord has given us the gifts of the Spirit--one of which is the power to heal. The same compassion Jesus had for the sick people of Galilee, He also had for Aeneas, a man from Lydda, a town northeast of Jerusalem on the road toward Joppa. Imbued with the Holy Spirit, Simon Peter healed Aeneas in the name of "Jesus the Christ," and, as the verse says, "all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord." And that same compassion that Jesus had for the masses of Galilee and for Aeneas of Lydda, He still has today for you and for me and, of course, for Delia Knox.
We can and must continue to believe in the active and very real power of Jesus Christ. That same power of the Spirit, that same desire to see us healed in spirit and body, that same mercy renewed each day--that is what we can expect from our Lord Jesus. Over and over, He said that people's faith had made them well. It is our faith that brings the power of healing to bear on our own and others' lives. It is our faith that causes us to follow Jesus wherever He may lead us--out of our comfort zone and into the wilderness, yes, but also out of doubt and despair into hope and eternal life. And no matter where we may go nor what we may face, we can be sure that He will always have compassion on us, always be ready to extend the Father's mercy to us.
Pastor Delia Knox might have stayed in that wheelchair all the rest of her days, but she never gave up praying for the healing she knew was hers. She continued to praise that compassionate Jesus she loved, and she held fast to her faith so that, when healing came, God alone would be glorified.
We all have things that need healing in our lives. We need healing from addictions, healing from illness or injury, healing in relationships, healing in hearts darkened by depression, healing in lives broken by abuse and oppression. Know this: the compassion of Jesus fails not. He will always be with us, always be willing to heal and protect us, to shepherd us through our valleys and mountains. That Jesus who departed to the wilderness and yet turned back to heal multitudes, He is the same Jesus whose Spirit inhabits the hearts of believers today. That same Jesus who worked through Peter to heal Aeneas, He is the same Jesus who works through the hands and prayers of ministers today. That same Jesus who walked the road to Calvary for our sins, He is the same Jesus who continues to say to us, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) He is Jesus the Christ, and He heals you.
Holy Lord God, I am moved to tears by Your great compassion. I do not deserve Your mercy, and certainly not Your grace--and yet Your compassions fail not. They are renewed every morning. Each day as I pray to You, I know You hear in heaven, that you move to act on our behalf to heal us and the land in which we live. All good things come from You, and so I must reflect on those boundless blessings and rejoice that You love us so much. You are God alone, and in You I truly do find my strength and my salvation. Praise be to Jesus the Christ, by whose name I am healed. Amen.