THERE WILL BE NO HEALING IN THIS CHURCH
by John Penn
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And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven you" (Mark 2:1-5)
While serving as an assistant pastor of a large United Methodist Church in the northeast, I made a suggestion in one of our staff meetings that we consider offering a study on healing and wholeness to the congregation. Almost before I had finished speaking, the senior pastor said in a harsh tone of speech, "There will be no healing in this church." As soon as he had made his statement, the youth pastor chimed in, siding with the senior pastor. No one else made any comment. Silence filled the atmosphere. I was shocked and embarrassed, and remained dumb-founded during the rest of the staff meeting. As I read this unique healing story of the paralytic man in Mark's gospel, my mind flashed back thirty-some years ago, recalling that event in the staff meeting.
In this account, hearing that Jesus has come back to his hometown in Capernaum, people from all around the city and neighboring towns waste no time to make their way to the house. They don't want to miss this opportunity to hear him teach and hopefully witness him demonstrate God's miraculous power.
Four men on a special mission are also making their way to the house to see and hear Jesus teach. They are filled with excitement and expectation that God's healing power would work in Jesus. Their mission is to get a paralytic man to Jesus, at all cost. The travel of the four men to the house is hindered by the weight of the paralytic man they are carrying on a mat to Jesus.
When the four men arrive at the house where Jesus is teaching, an overflowing crowd of people have already gathered in the house. People are even sitting in the door of the house, this prevents the men from entering the house. They are not discouraged and simply look for another possible entrance into the house. Seeing none, they come up with a plan to take the paralytic man onto the roof of the house, to lower the man in front of Jesus. This unusual plan calls for bold faith, resourcefulness, perseverance, and an expectation that their efforts will not be in vain.
The men remove a section of the roof and lower the man in front of Jesus. When Jesus sees their bold faith, he says to the paralytic man, "Son, your sins are forgiven" (Mark 2:5b). In response to the faith of the five men, Jesus forgives the paralytic of his sins.
This healing miracle reveals the true nature and character of Jesus. Although, the teachers of the law were right in acknowledging that only God can forgive sins. They could not see beyond their fears and understanding at this point, to understand the Trinitarian nature of God. They failed to put two and two together, to receive the revelation concerning the nature and authority of Jesus to forgive sin, which clearly revealed his divine nature.
The staff at this church failed to understand the context of what I was asking the staff to consider. This was an opportunity for the church to discover the importance and place of healing in the life and ministry of the church. After that staff meeting, I requested a one week personal leave of absence, which was granted. I used that week to do a study on healing and wrote two small booklets on healing, one for adults and the other for children. The two healing booklets were published in 1989, and are still in print today. What Everyone Should Know about Healing is the booklet for adults. The booklet for children is entitled, About Caring and Healing. When I completed the booklets, I gave copies of them to the senior pastor.
Both of these booklets have now been expanded into two entirely new books. About Caring and Healing, which started out as an eight page booklet is now a 33 page activities and coloring book. This is a unique and one of a kind book that teaches children about the healing ministry of Jesus and much more. In 2005, I wrote a 64 page book entitled, Getting Well, A Study for Children About Spiritual and Physical Healing.
Some years later, after I was appointed to another church, a beautiful thing occurred between this pastor and me. During a clergy planning session at an annual conference, the presiding bishop conducted a healing and anointing service, which was concluded with Holy Communion. This pastor came over to me, expressed his regrets concerning our pastoral ministry together, and asked for my forgiveness. I accepted his forgiveness and also asked for his forgiveness as well. We hugged as brothers in Christ, offering each other, the peace of Christ, and shared Holy Communion together. This healing and anointing service witnessed to us both that healing does happen in the church and there is nothing we can do to prevent it.
As the church, must rediscover or reclaim God's healing presence and power among us, in the resurrected Christ. The church represents Christ's continuous, real presence, to bring healing, wholeness, and salvation.
Once again, the forgiveness and healing was experienced. Forgiveness is the door to healing, wholeness, and salvation. Jesus can offer forgiveness, because he is God in the flesh. Jesus incarnates all of the authority, power, and attributes of the God of heaven.
Although this senior pastor is deceased, I am thankful to God that he discovered the healing power of God. Healing happens within the life and ministry of the church whether there is an intentional healing ministry or not, because God is a compassionate and loving God. Healing is rooted in divine love.
We need more people in the church like the four men who brought the paralytic man to Jesus. They remind us that the church is to be understood as a healing community. Join me in prayer that the church, the body of Christ will continue Christ's threefold ministry of teaching, preaching, and healing. After reflecting on Matthew 4:23, someone defined Jesus' threefold ministry in this way: "Teaching explains the gospel, preaching proclaims the gospel, but healing makes real the gospel.
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