A Month of Healings
How do the healings Jesus performed in Bible times relate to us here in 2011? What can we learn today from the healing of a disease or disorder that dates back centuries? Maybe adults can find something of interest because they're, well, old; but there's no way these healings relate to today's youth – right? Wrong!
Here's a thought-provoking family project for this month! Choose four of Jesus' healings – one for each week. Take time each day to study that week's healing and to talk about what each family member discovers. The project might play out like this:
Sunday: Together as a family, read aloud the healing for that week. If the healing appears in more than one gospel, read all accounts to compare the details and differences.
Monday: Parents and older children research the Bible and Bible commentaries to discover relevant background and context information. For instance, what were the circumstances that led to this particular healing? What were the laws or customs of the time that made this healing especially unusual? How did the person healed and the onlookers react to the healing?
Tuesday: If we had been present at the time of this healing, surely we would have been in awe of Jesus' work. In a family discussion, consider questions like these: What did Jesus do to heal? Why was he always successful? What will it take for us to heal?
Wednesday: Discuss the universal truths that stem from this week's healing. For instance, what does each healing tell us about God's love and tender care, or His mercy and forgiveness, or His supreme power over disease, discomfort, lack, and even death? Although these ideas might seem hefty for young children to think about, even the youngest child can feel God's love and power through a story of healing.
Thursday: Healings affect a much wider group of people than just those present when it occurs. Questions to address in today's family discussion might be: What are some of the problems that need healing in our world today? Are these "modern" problems any different from those of Bible times? How are they similar or different? Are they able to be healed today? In other words, is God still God?
Friday: Make today a day of discovery! How can we put to use the lessons we've learned from Jesus' healings? What can we do better to follow in Jesus' footsteps? How can we see and act in a more God-like way?
Saturday: Make a family commitment to act in healing ways. Spell out what that means to each family member, and commit to making the effort to follow through. Share any examples from the past or hopes for the future that relate to this goal.
One of the most powerful Bible healings for our family over the years is the one in which Jesus refuses to stone the adulterous woman (John 8:1-11). Instead, he writes in the sand while he waits for anyone in the crowd of onlookers to cast the first condemning stone. No one throws a single stone, and, one by one, each onlooker departs. Jesus then tells the woman that he is not her accuser either and sends her away, but not before he has commanded that she "sin no more." The woman is free – freed from the accusing crowd's stoning and free to no longer sin.
Was Jesus being lenient to the woman by forgiving her (perhaps feeling sorry for her as she stood trembling in the midst of an angry crowd)? Was he trying to shame the crowd for not expressing compassion and mercy? In fact, Jesus followed the Mosaic Law, which required two witnesses to accuse the woman; and he knew that the crowd of accusers was as guilty as she was. Thus, to call for her stoning was to call for their own as well. In their eagerness to judge her, they were blind to their own hypocrisy. At the same time, Jesus did not excuse the woman – he pointed out that she escaped conviction this time, but that she must not do it again. She was forgiven because she was expected to change her behavior.
Whenever our children got into a squabble with one another or faced a difficult relationship with a teacher, friend, teammate, or co-worker, we would turn to this story for inspiration and guidance. There has yet to be an occasion when any of us has been completely free of "sin" – of believing that we have done everything right and the other person is all to blame. Each time that we have recognized a way in which we could change our thoughts and actions, a healing of the conflict or problem has occurred.
When the children were young, healings centered on hurt feelings and unkind behavior. As they grew up, their problems seemed to be more complex and compelling; yet healing always followed a change in their perspective and a humble willingness to be more loving, more kind, more giving. The message of Jesus' healings is unequivocal – God is God, and there is none else.
Another profound healing is the one of the blind man, who is blind from birth (John 9:1-9). The disciples ask Jesus who did sin: this blind man or his parents? And Jesus replies, "Neither this man nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." How often do we think that a problem is plaguing us because someone has sinned at some point in time – even before we were born? Yet, this healing reminds us that every challenge is an opportunity to see God operating in our lives and to glorify Him through our steadfast faith in His love and care for all of us. If our purpose in life is to "glorify Him," then we can walk through a difficult time with a sense of peace in our hearts, knowing that God is with us, showing us the way to resolve each and every disease or hardship.
Jesus' healings provide inspiration and guidance for all time and for each of us. All we need to do is follow in his footsteps. Which healings will stand out to you and your family this month? And how can you relate them to your daily lives? How can you continue to feel the blessing of these long-ago healings right now?
Here are some healings to get you started. Be sure to look for others!
Jairus’s daughter: Matt 9:18-26; Mark 5:22-43; Luke 8:41-56
The man at the Pool of Bethesda: John 5:1-18
The Nobleman’s son: John 4:46-54
Healing of a paralyzed man: Matt 9:2-9; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26
Healing of epilepsy: Matt 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-42