Which is better – miracles or ultimate healing?
A few years ago I wrote a sermon about two miracles. In the first, Peter heals a paralysed and bed-ridden man named Aenas, then Tabitha who’d just died (Acts 9:32-43). The title was ‘Healing and Hope’ and on the day, having provided an outline of the way Peter healed the two people through different methods, I turned my attention to the issue of hope. Beginning with the observation that healing and hope are not the same thing and explaining that when healing occurs, expectation is realised.
Consider the following: imagine a man is ill in hospital. The medical staff attend him. Others pray for him and he makes a remarkable recovery. Great as this is, hope goes beyond this because physical healing is secondary to the ultimate plan of God which is to restore humanity and Creation back into relationship with himself through faith in the power and presence of God as made manifest in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. We hear something of this in Jesus’ words when he encourages the disciples to believe in him but if they cannot manage this – in other words, if all else fails…
‘… believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves’ (John 14:11 )
In other words, Jesus offers them a concession. The miracles of healing that the disciples had witnessed were nothing more than a bi-product of the larger thing God was doing which ultimately involves the healing of humanity. Too often we tend to get hung up on the need for physical healing when Christ’s resurrection heralds the full healing that God intends for the world – a healing that involves spiritual restoration in all manner of ways, with God and others.
Often, when people ask me my age, I tell them I am 18 but seem to be trapped in the body of a 58-year-old. As I have aged I have increasingly come to realise the physical limitations of my body and the scripture that informs us how the ‘body is born perishable.’ From the moment we’re born, our bodies are dying.
Imagine another scenario – suppose a believer lives to the ripe old age of 100. Reaching this milestone they have a dodgy ankle, a bad back, weak lungs, an ailing heart and a whole load of other medical complaints. Is their desire at this age for God to sort their ankle? Hardly – their desire is for God to draw them home by taking the perishable body and renewing it so that it is imperishable. An eternal body in which all the parts work in whatever way is necessary for life in heaven. A place where sins are forgiven and there is no more suffering or hardship – this is the real hope of the believer!