These past few months I have had the privilege to go through an in-depth study of the Gospel of Luke. Paul refers to Luke as a physician in Colossians 4:14. Being a physician, Luke aptly focuses on the healings of Jesus more than any other gospel. As a physician, I am sure he had to face many difficult and heart-wrenching circumstances. Instances where even as a physician, he was powerless to help heal. Yet, this is not true for Jesus. Nothing and no one is ever beyond Jesus’ abilities to heal. Repeatedly Jesus proves that nothing and no one cannot be redeemed.
Jesus began his ministry at the Synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth. There, he read from Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:18-19 & 21 NIV).”
I absolutely love Isaiah 61:1-4. I think it paints a picture of the hope we can have in Jesus. That He can and will redeem anything. I love that Jesus quoted this passage and declared that he fulfilled it. Luke’s gospel will soon prove this through his account of Jesus’ ministry.
The gospel of Luke contains eighteen individual accounts of healing people, as well as references to Jesus healing many without an individual account. I would like to focus on four of these individual accounts: A Widow’s Son, a sinful woman, a hemorrhaging woman, and a crippled woman. These four speak volumes to me about not only Jesus’ willingness to heal, but his love, compassion, mercy and grace toward people.
The first miracle is found in Luke 7:11-17. Jesus is traveling with His disciples when He encounters a funeral procession just outside the city of Nain. The procession is in honor of a man who was the only son of his widowed mother. At that time, this woman was very vulnerable without a male figure to provide for and protect her. Jesus’ response to this display of grief and pain was compassion:
“When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, ‘Do not weep (Luke 7:13 NASB).’”
It must have been difficult for Jesus to encounter the reality of humanity. Jesus was divine, but he took on human form and all its restrictions to redeem a lost and hurting world. Death was never God’s plan. Death entered the world through sin. In Genesis 3:19b we are told “for you are dust, and to dust you shall return (NASB).” Sin brought death, not God. Death is a reminder that all is not as it should be in the world. A reminder that there is something more, something better in store for those who believe.
Jesus knew the goodness of Heaven better than any man could ever understand. I am sure He viewed death much differently than man. Even though it wasn’t a part of God’s plan, death is deliverance to Heaven. To perfection. To things as God intended them to be. No more pain. No more suffering. No sin. Yet, despite Jesus’ knowledge with certainty of the goodness of Heaven, he still saw the reality of death. The grief and pain it brought to those affected by it and that elicited Jesus’ compassion. In his mercy and compassion to the grief and pain of this widow, who now found herself hopeless – Jesus restored her hope. He told her not to weep and then He spoke to her dead son commanding him to rise and he did!
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:55-57 KJV).
Jesus not only defeated death on the cross – He defeated it in His ministry when He displayed that He had the power to raise the dead.
The second healing is the forgiveness of sins for a sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50. This infamous woman washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, anointed them with perfume, wiped them with her hair and kissed them. This woman was referred to as a sinner – clearly, she had a reputation. Jesus was dining with a Pharisee when she expressed her humility, love and appreciation for Jesus. The Pharisee’s reaction to this woman was one of shock and disgust. He doubted Jesus’ divinity, because He didn’t believe Jesus would allow her to touch Him if He knew what kind of a woman she was.
The Pharisee never vocalized his opinion of the scene, but Jesus knew his thoughts and his heart. He used a Parable to explain to the Pharisee that to whom much is forgiven, their love is great. Jesus said to the Pharisee:
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven (Luke 7:47-48 NIV).”
Jesus didn’t turn away from sinful people nor did he condemn and judge them. He had compassion and mercy toward them. He saw her heart. Her brokenness. Her humility. Her Love. His last words to her were:
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace (Luke 7:50b).”
Jesus is willing to freely forgive the repentant. To forgive even those people are repulsed by. There is nothing anyone can do, nor is there anything that could be done to a person that Jesus can’t redeem. No one and nothing is beyond Jesus’ power to redeem. He doesn’t stand as a judge, like many people are apt to do, He stands as a Savior with open arms. Ready to freely accept the repentant. To redeem them. To make all bad things untrue. To transform hearts and lives. To take those who love much and use them for His glory and His purposes. Perfect people don’t need a Savior – imperfect people need a Savior.
The third healing is in Luke 8:40-48, where Jesus heals a hemorrhaging woman. This woman does not ask to be healed. Rather, she reaches out in faith and simply touches Jesus’ garment in the hopes of healing. In those days, a hemorrhaging woman was considered unclean:
“‘When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period. 26Any bed she lies on while her discharge continues will be unclean, as is her bed during her monthly period, and anything she sits on will be unclean, as during her period. 27 Anyone who touches them will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening (Leviticus 15:25-27 NIV).
This woman had been hemorrhaging for twelve years. That means she had been living as a social outcast for twelve years! She was untouchable according to Leviticus. Yet, she had faith and boldness. She boldly touches Jesus’ garment for healing. According to Leviticus that should have made Jesus unclean, but instead she became clean. Her hemorrhaging immediately stopped. She was healed. Not only was she healed, she was delivered. She was delivered from her suffering. From a life as a social outcast. From isolation. From loneliness. From rejection.
Even though she had boldness, she still defaulted to anonymity. She was hoping to go unnoticed and ignored as she had been for twelve long years. Yet Jesus paused. In the middle of a crowd, with people pressing in upon Him on all sides, He asked: “Who touched me (Luke 8:45 NIV)?” Jesus knew someone had been healed and I suspect He knew exactly who it was, but for her sake He called her out. He drew attention to this woman. No longer would she be a forgotten outcast.
Again, she shows courage when she realizes she cannot escape notice and she steps forward trembling. She admits to touching Jesus and her healing. How did Jesus respond to her? Did he rebuke her for breaking the law? No. He very tenderly speaks to her:
“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace (Luke 8:48b NIV).”
He commended her for her faith. He sent her away with a blessing. Not only was she healed, but she could now go in true peace. In freedom.
The fourth healing is also of a woman in Luke 13:10-17. Her story is full of hope. Luke tells us this woman was crippled by an evil spirit. Afflicted by Satan. Bound by her affliction for eighteen long years! Jesus in His great mercy and compassion sees this woman. He sees her brokenness, her pain, her desperation and He says: “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity (Luke 13:12 NIV).” Then He touches her. What a tender moment. The God of the universe saw her pain and in His compassion, spoke to her, touched her, and healed her. He set her free. There is nothing like a comforting touch amidst pain and suffering. I can only imagine what comfort a touch from Jesus must have been amidst this woman’s suffering.
I would encourage you to read the gospel of Luke in its entirety. It paints a beautiful picture of Jesus. Of Jesus’ love. How He restores hope. He heals. He redeems. He sets free. He comforts. He is merciful. Compassionate. Gracious. It shows His humanity and His divine nature. It reminded me afresh of the depth of His love and the lengths He went to redeem me. He endured the Cross for not just a hurting world, but me. He came to not only save, but to make every bad thing come untrue. Jesus still heals today just as He healed in Luke. I am proof of that! Don’t be bound by lies. Live in the freedom to which you have been called:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1 NIV).