From Mark 1:21 to 2:12, we find a quick succession of healings that came from the hands of Jesus, they include: a man with an unclean spirit, a fever in Peter’s mother-in-law, a person with a serious skin disease, and a paralytic man. This was just a small fraction of many healings summarized by Mark in 1:32-34:
That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons… (ESV)
Yet, even in the midst of this great work and his popularity among those in the city, Jesus took a moment to separate himself from the crowd and pray. When his disciples found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” To which Jesus replied, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came” (1:37-38).
In these passages, we discover these realities of the God who heals:
First, though he could and did cast out demons and heal physical ailments, Jesus’ primary concern was the deep soul healing—leading people from sin and reconciling them to the Father.
Peter would later write this truth about Jesus: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). This is the core thrust of the gospel, the good news of Jesus: We are sinners in rebellion against God, deserving his wrath, and cannot save ourselves; but God in his love and mercy gave us Jesus as a sacrifice for our sin to bring us forgiveness and make us his children.
This is the message that came from the lips of Jesus and from those who wrote about him in the rest of scripture. This is why when Jesus had returned to Capernaum and a group of friends brought a paralyzed man to him, Jesus’ first response was to say: “Your sins are forgiven” (2:5).
Physical healing might bring temporary relief, but it doesn’t bring an end to sin. We need spiritual healing. We need Jesus to say to us, “Your sins are forgiven.” And he does say this to all who trust in him for the sacrifice he made on the cross.
Second, ultimate physical healing flows from the forgiveness of our sins.
Jesus healed a countless number of people while he walked on the earth. Jesus also empowered some of his followers to continue this healing ministry. Yet, not every ailment was healed in this life and everyone who was healed, eventually still suffered physical death.
But, through the lens of knowing Jesus’ primary mission, temporary physical healing points us to something greater. The reason we get sick, our bodies break down, and we die is because we live in a world that exists between Genesis 3 and Revelation 21. Breakdown, hardship, and death are the curses of the fall.
Our salvation from the total effect of sin comes in stages. In our justification, that instantaneous and complete forgiveness we experience when we turn to Jesus in faith, we are healed from the eternal consequences of sin. In our sanctification, that life-long journey of spiritual growth from the time we turn to Jesus to the time we die in this world, we are being healed from the power of sin. In our glorification, that great perfection of our bodies along with creation that is still to come at the resurrection when Jesus returns, we will be healed from the total impact of sin.
At that time, everything described in the temporary healings becomes a permanent healing for everyone who belongs to Jesus.
Today, we still pray for and hope for physical healings from our ailments. God might grant them or he might grow our patient trust in him. But because of our spiritual healing, we can look forward to that coming day when the words of Revelation 21:4 become our daily reality: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
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