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Friday, January 08, 2010

Healing Virtue: The Power of Healing

In the study of the healing of the Lord and Savior, most read over the particulars of the individual healings, and preaching in the modern world tends to use the healings as a 'metaphor' or 'springboard' for other issues and doctrines. The power of God in healings is seldom more than mentioned: we praise God for His power, we talk about Holy Spirit healing and the gifts, and we sing songs which at least speak of the power of Almighty God, but only rarely is the power behind healing really attended to. Only thrice in the New Testament is 'healing virtue' truly dealt with by name, after the healing in Mark and Luke of the Woman who touches Jesus' garment, and also once again though not by name, it the Book of Acts, when it is noted that persons who saw the healings by the apostles desired even an item of clothing, and the report is that persons were healing by the touch of a handkerchief. The idea of clothing having 'power' of any kind is not reckoned in modern thinking, and it was not really the clothing per se at all, but the power of God which goes out in healing. That power, again is referred to as 'healing virtue'.

The two mentions in the Gospel are as follows:

Mar 5:30 And Jesus immediately, knowing in himself thatvirtue had gone out of him. turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?

Luk 6:19-And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed [them] all.

Luk 8:46 -And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.

Virtue: The Power of Healing

The word 'Virtue' used in the above passages, is not the same word 'virtue' as used when referring to a type of moral purity or excellence and honor. The word 'Virtue' used in these passages on healing is:


the same root as the word 'dynamite' and used in similar words to note an intense power, ability, miracle strength, abundance of power, and sometimes refers to the power of a ruler, or an 'administrative power'. The healings then that Jesus did, and later his apostles and disciples, can be fairly said to be pointing to His Kingly power and glory, in a divine sense, but also a very real 'power' that when Jesus lays hands on the sick, infirm,possessed or deaf and blind, causes them to be made whole, as though no impairment had ever been. The power of God in 'virtue', appears to be a work/power that heals human beings, but more than that, in Jesus and later Paul, there is something so great about it that it lingers even on the garment of the Lord, or of those indwelt by the Holy Spirit:

Act 19:12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

One must first consider, that the 'power' in the healing miracles is that of the power of the Holy Spirit: it is not a 'substance', not a 'method', not some electrical conduit as modern minds would prefer so they could dismiss it, but the living glory of God, the power of God, the 'existence' of God and one could carefully and not occulticly use the word 'force' in proper context, which emanates from the Holy Spirit. The power in Christ, and his disciples was so great that even touching the hem of a garment caused healing and the casting out of demons away from the physical presence of Jesus and Paul.

The 'healing virtue' is mentioned in the woman with the issue of blood, in Luke and Mark, and less clearly in Mt. 9:22, resulting in immediate healing, and peripherally in one of the 'healing of the multitudes' passages when the crowd clamors just to touch Jesus, because virtue is perceived as coming out of him. These were real healings, not placebo-effect acts of the imagination, or some desire-bent effect.

In other healings, where Jesus touches or commands the sick to arise, or devils to depart, there is a direct contact or verbal directive which one could see alone as some quality of the Savior alone, in his "administrative' authority. These passages though brief seem to teach though that the power of God in healing is

1. felt and known(e.g. Jesus perceives virtue has left him when touched)
2. affects the immediate garment that touches in the examples either Jesus or Paul,
3. the Virtue or dynamis-power heals, makes right, makes whole a dissensioned state of a human being.

While this is the clear teaching of the passages, and is self-evident, a note of caution must be added: today there is a 'miracles-market' in which a lot of feigned healings and power, or even worse 'emulated' power goes out claimingto be the same thing as the healing virtue of Christ. TV ministries try to entice with purchasable 'prayer cloths' or oils, or one mass mailing gimic sends out paper prayer rugs or other items that supposedly have a special blessing or healing effect, and these merchandising scams are despicable: they play on the longing of people in distress who are desperate for healings. NEVER in scripture is healing associated with a charge.

Gehazi and Naaman and the 'Cost' of Charging for Healing

While most consider healing a 'New Testament' phenomenon, a 'post-pentecost' gift, the healing by God's power is also mentioned in the Old Testament.

When Elisha is confronted by Naaman for the healing of leprosy, Naaman offers a reward of clothing, gifts and so on, which Elisha turns down flat. Throughout the Old and New Testament, no association could be made between healing or prophecy and the payment of fees, monies or reward for the free gift of God, the free healing 'virtue'. What could one reimburse God with for His power? The finest riches would never be sufficient. Elisha's servant Gehazi finds out, when he runs after Naaman on his way back to Syria and tells him he will accept the reward. When Gehazi returns to Elisha, the Prophet is abrupt and definitive, and the chastisement is severe for thinking there could be a reward or purchase of God's power of healing:

2Ki 5:26 And he said unto him, Went not mine heart [with thee], when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? [Is it] a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?
2Ki 5:27 The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper [as white] as snow.

Not only was the servant rebuked for asking or receiving a reward, but he was cursed with the same disease as Naaman, and not only himself but his generation. The Holy Spirit of God is exactly that: HOLY, and his gifts are HOLY. Earthly commerce is not to taint the meeting of God with man in any form.

The Outcome

As Jesus travels to raise Jairus' daughter, the healing of the woman with an issue of blood is parenthetical: she comes behind Jesus in the crowd touches his garment, and says,
"...If I may touch but hisclothes, I shall be made whole" MK 5:28.

There are a few elements worth noting in this and the healing of the multitudes:

1. They had faith that the touch of the garment was enough
2. The garment was worn by in this case the Lord, and in the other a believer
filled with the Holy Spirit and always in the Word of God
3. There was no cost nor reward
4. The outcome was healing: being made whole.

The requisite FAITH for healing was there. A meekness of spirit was there, as they were satisfied if they could touch only the garment of the healer, the healing/gift was carried out in the Way of God, and the outcome was the immediate healing of the woman with the issue of blood and other healings not specified.

The power of God was not some sort of 'magic' clinging to a cloth or handkerchief, but the power of the living God, present in the genuine, living existing Savior or His Holy Spirit, the 'parakletos', comforter whom He sent to indwell us and keep us and work through us. Some wish to dismiss healings and miracles or turn them into wishful magic or conversely into mere metaphor as if they could not be, but the power of God is real, and did not die in the first century. To dismiss healing is to dismiss the power of God, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, "Christ in us, the Hope of Glory". The very discussion and use of the term 'virute' in the Word of God, shows that it is not merely some 'invention' or 'happy thought' of Jesus in our hearts, like we speak of peace or love 'in our hearts' which are ideas and thoughts but a real power of the LIVING GOD in this century and until the end of time. Healing virtue in the days of Jesus as now, is the power of God among us.

Till next time.
Elizabeth K. Best
Many blessings.
2. 84.