Jesus as Healer
More healing stories are told about Jesus than any other figure in the Jewish tradition. He must have been a remarkable healer.
~ Marcus Borg
On historical grounds, it is virtually indisputable that Jesus was a healer and exorcist because:
Earliest sources contain widespread attestation of Jesus’ healings.
Healings and exorcisms were common in Jesus’ time.
Even Jesus’ opponents did not challenge his powers of healing, although they misinterpreted it as coming from “Beelzebul, the prince of demons” (Mark 3:22-27, Matthew 12:22-29, Luke 11:14-23).
The healing stories reflect the kinds of situations Jesus encountered and things he did although the historical accuracy of details in the healing stories may vary.
Types of healings
The types of healings attributed to Jesus in the gospel traditions include:
- withered hand
- bent back
- deafness and dumbness
The source of Jesus’ gifts as a healer was his experience of the sacred.
Jesus was aware of the power of the spirit flowing through him.
After a woman touched the hem of his garment in order to be healed, Jesus knew that power had gone out of him (Mark 5:30).
Matthew and Luke both report Jesus as saying: “If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28, Luke 11:20).
Healing / Curing
Medical anthropologists make a distinction between healing and curing:
Healing goes with illness which refers to the social meanings attached to that condition.
Curing goes with disease which refers to the actual physical condition of a person.
Some contemporary Jesus scholars say Jesus only healed illness, not cured disease. Marcus Borg’s sense is that Jesus did both.
Questions to ponder...
The healing stories reflect Jesus’ intimate, powerful relationship with God and his great compassion. He often healed with words, touch, and physical means.
How does your relationship with God enable you to be a compassionate, healing presence for people today?
Wisdom comes in two forms: conventional and alternative. Jesus was an alternative wisdom teacher.