Many who watch television witness supposed healings or cures by evangelists. Others have actually experience or witnessed cures in a revivalist tent meeting. These preachers often point to the example of Jesus and his first disciples as validation for their own activity. Is it fair then to compare the method and results of the Nazarene’s healings with those of modern Christian “healers”?
The Gospels recount some of the healings of Jesus and allude to others, including those of his disciples. Scores of times in the Gospels Jesus and his chosen apostles are seen healing and curing. [Matthew 4:24; 8:5-13, 16; 10:1-8; 12:15; 15:21-28; Mark 1:34; 5:25-29, 34; Luke 5:17-21; 6:17-19; 7:7-10; 8:47, 48; 9:1, 2, 6; 14:1-4]
The method and manner of Jesus’ healings are seen in several accounts. How might we characterize these? Simply, these cures were done without fanfare or preparation and generally with just a short phrase, “Go, your faith has made you well.” The healings of Jesus were not partial but complete. Often he told those cured not to tell anyone else. In other words, the Nazarene did not make an attempt to advertise his cures.
What else do we see lacking in Jesus’ cures? We seldom see prayer. We never hear hymns. We hear no screaming and ranting and threatening. We see no stomping about, or walking back in forth in a state of frenzy. We see no hypnotic hyperventilating as he works his audience into a mesmerizing delirium. Other things are also lacking.
When he sent out his twelve apostles, and then later seventy other male disciples, Jesus gave them specific instructions:
“Cure those sick, raise those dead, cleanse lepers, exorcise demons. You received free, give free. Do not procure gold or silver or copper for your purses nor pouches for your trip -- nor two undergarments, nor sandals, nor staff. For the worker is worthy of his food.” [Matthew 10:8-10 NCMM]
Now Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. Then he sent them out to preach about God’s Realm and to heal the sick. And he said to them: “Take nothing for the trip - not a staff, nor pouch, bread, silver money, not even two under garments.” Then the apostles left and went throughout the villages preaching the Good News and healing everywhere. [Luke 9:1-3, 6 NCMM]
Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them out two by two before him into every village and area he was about to visit. And he told them: “The harvest is truly large but the workers are few. So beg the Lord of the harvest so that He might send out workers into His harvest. Go! Behold I sent all of you out as lambs among wolves! Do not carry a wallet, nor a shoulder bag, or sandals. Do not greet anyone along the way.” … Now the seventy returned joyously, reporting: “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name!” [Luke 10:1-4, 17 NCMM]
These true apostolic healers were told not to accept any money, nor even to carry money with them. They were permitted to accept food and lodging from those who peaceably accepted their message.
This manner and method of healing continued with the apostles after the Lord returned to heaven. In the first example of healing without the presence of Jesus, Peter makes it clear he has no money. Note this in Acts 3:1-8,
1 Now Peter and John were ascending up to the Temple area at the 3 PM hour of prayer. 2 A man born lame from his mother’s womb was carried daily and put at the gate of the Temple area. He was placed there at the Beautiful Gate to beg for alms from those entering the Temple area. 3 Now observing Peter and John approaching the Temple area, he began begging them to receive alms. 4 But Peter, and John with him, giving him their attention, said: “Look at us.” 5 Now the beggar, thinking he was about to receive something from them, gave them his attention. 6 Now Peter said: “Silver and gold I do not possess, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, rise and walk. 7 Peter took the beggar by the hand and raised him up. Immediately the beggar’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 Then, jumping up, he stood there, and then began walking around. The beggar entered the Temple area with Peter and John, walking and jumping about, praising the God. [NCMM]
In Acts we do not see the disciples performing healings in the context of a frenzied show. Nor do we find them accepting money, even contributions, for their curing work. What a contrast is the healing work of Jesus and his 1st Century disciples!
Men and women of all religions throughout the ages - pagan, Jewish, Christian, Islam - have all had their healers. At the beginning of this 3rd millennium there are healers in the news and on television.
How do some of these compare with Jesus and his first disciples? One has only to watch the television evangelists to know this. Large audiences must first be emotionally aroused by music and passionate prayers. Then a charismatic preacher begins his sermon. After a slow start his hyperventilated breathing fills his message and then he begins to shout and scream. He prances about the stage urging his audience to begin to respond to him. The fever pitch rises and rises as sweat pours off the evangelist and his screams become shrieks as if possessed. Finally persons who claim to be healed come to the stage and each of these is “slain in the spirit” and fall background by the mere touch of the preacher. Some shake and tremble in semi-unconsciousness on the floor. One very famous evangelist with a hair-do that would feed the poor may cause numbers of people to fall backward. Even whole portions of the audience may be knocked backward, row upon row falling upon one another in shock.
No matter what one thinks of this, is it fair to conclude that none of this showmanship compares to the Nazarene and his disciples? Can any one of these TV evangelists with a straight face say as did Peter: “Gold and silver I do not possess?” When, in fact, everyone can see the Rolex watch and diamond ring on the preacher. Many of these men and women are self-confessed millionaires with multiple luxury residences, prestige automobiles, and personal jets. Some claim the Bible justifies such a life-style. But anyone who reads the Bible above can see that neither Jesus or ANY of his disciples lived so.
Not only is the method and manner of these rich teleevangelists false, but so are their doctrines. Most teach the triune godhead of the Almighty just as the ancient Egyptian magicians. They teach an eternal hell-fire torment for anyone who disagrees with their Trinity.
Most have witnessed how a hypnotist may play parlor tricks on willing participants. A group of people are put under hypnosis so that when a certain word is heard they will crow like chickens or waddle about like ducks. Medical professionals are able to assist smokers and obese persons with their problems. One famous Hollywood psychologist was able to implant false ideas in her hypnotic patients convincing them that they had all been sexually molested by a family member.
In a similar manner these so-called healers cause a mass hypnosis over a larger audience. Like a quiet group of people who are turned into a lynching mob by a charismatic leader, so thousands are controlled by a spirit or pneuma that is not of God. Jesus himself warned that such “Christians” would make claims upon their judgment: “Lord, Lord, did we not do miracles in your name?” And yet the Lord says he will tell them: “I never had a relationship with you.” [Matthew 7:21-23] Jesus foretold that some of his own “genuine disciples” would be led astray by such false prophets. At Mark 13:22, 23, “For pseudo-anointed and pseudo-prophets will arise and give signs and wonders to keep leading astray -- if that were even possible - the Elect. But, you [apostles], keep on the watch! I have foretold it all to you [apostles]!” [NCMM]
Paul also gives the same warning:
9 The appearing of the Lawless one will be attended by various miracles and tokens and delusive marvels -- for so Satan works -- 10 and by every kind of wicked deception for those who are on the way to perdition because they did not welcome into their hearts the love of the truth, so that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God sends them a misleading influence that they may believe the lie; 12 in order that all may come under judgment who have refused to believe the truth and have taken pleasure in unrighteousness.” [2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 Weymouth Translation]
Taking Paul at his words those who perform these miraculous signs and wonders do so without a true “love of the Truth.” If such healers also teach the Trinity, hell-fire torment, predestination, soul immortality and other false doctrines - then any healings or wonders they perform are satanic. Those who are led along with these will receive God’s judgment for the very reason that “they did not welcome into their hearts a love the Truth.”
The beloved apostle writes: “My dearly beloved friends, do not put your trust in every ‘inspiration’. Rather, test out these ‘inspirations’ to know whether they originate with God. The need for this is because many false prophets have proceeded from the world.” [1 John 4:1 NCMM Paraphrase] The basis for this judgment is “the Truth” Paul mentioned above. Paul did not fear a close examination of his own teachings, for his traveling companion Luke reports: “These [Jews] were of a better race than those in Thessalonica and they accepted the Word with complete mental readiness. They would examine the Scriptures every day to see if these things were true.” [Acts 17:11 NCMM] The teachings of the Nazarene and his inspired disciples are the basis upon which all preachers and teachers should be examined.
A “love of the Truth” will move a sincere heart to read and study the words of Jesus first. Clearly our Lord did heal others. However, anyone can see the difference between the sweating, screaming, hyperventilating - money-loving - television “healer” with the ridiculous hairdo and the calm and simple manner of the Lord Jesus.
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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