One of the challenges of healing ministry is laying hands on a person who is trying to get healed.
That may sound like the obvious issue -- a sick person wants to be well. Why else would someone seek out healing ministry? But that kind of mindset actually stops ministry from working.
You see, we often act as though Jesus is healing people every time we lay hands on them. And, yes, I have caught myself speaking in that way in the past. But Jesus has already done all the healing He will ever do.
"Wait," you may be thinking to yourself. "I thought Jesus is risen and that He is alive."
That's true, Jesus is at the right hand of His Father. But He is seated, which means His work is done (Hebrews 10:12).
According to Paul, "If we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:8-11, NIV).
People often apply these verses to holy living, but if we are willing to view "sin" as anything contrary to God's designated order, then it applies to sickness as well. Jesus made it clear that healing and forgiveness of sins (what is traditionally taught as a benefit of salvation) go hand-in-hand.
"Some men brought to [Jesus] a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, 'Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.' At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, 'This fellow is blaspheming!' Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, 'Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Get up and walk"? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.' So he said to the paralyzed man, 'Get up, take your mat and go home.' Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man" (Matthew 9:2-8, NIV).
We receive all benefits from salvation -- forgiveness of sin, healing of sickness, deliverance from bondage, authority over spiritual forces, and the power to overcome death -- when we make Jesus Lord. And, they become available the moment we make the decision. If healing is not a part of lives in the present, it's not because God didn't make it available or that He is withholding until we ask -- it's that we are not taking advantage of what already belongs to us through Jesus. The gift has already been sent and we just need to receive the delivery.
Let's say you reserved a stay at an all-inclusive resort, meaning your room, meals, and other services would be included in the price of your purchase. If your family arrived, checked into the room and just sat there and watched TV through the dinner hour, you would miss out on a meal that was already provided. It's not the resort's fault if you don't have dinner -- it's their pleasure to serve you -- but if you and your loved ones don't sit down and eat, you'll go hungry.
In the Old Testament, hundreds of years before Jesus' birth, Isaiah prophesied what the Messiah would do for mankind: "He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5, NKJV).
Looking back, just a few years after Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, Peter wrote, "Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross. He did this so that we would stop living for sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you were healed" (1 Peter 2:24, ERV).
Did you notice the change in tense? Peter wrote about something that was already accomplished. Jesus healed us, carrying our sins, sicknesses, and addictions in His physical body. We'll talk about where He left them in a future installment, but what I want us to see is that any sickness or other physical, mental, or emotional condition was already taken -- claimed -- by Jesus. It no longer belongs to us, nor is it within our rights to keep it when Jesus has made healing available in exchange.
When a person takes junk, scrap metal to a facility that will buy it from him, an exchange is made. The buyer takes the trashed metal and gives the seller cash. It would be foolish for a man to drop off that metal, hop back in his truck, and wave at the operators as he left the facility without taking payment. They would think there was something wrong with the man -- and be left to reconcile their books at the end of the day, counting the unclaimed payment.
I wonder if the tears God will wipe from our eyes in the New Heaven and Earth (Revelation 21:4) will be from us recognizing all we could have had in the here and now.
When we seek healing, it should not be asking God to release something, but rather taking something that is already ours. If people would receive healing ministry as cashing in their benefits rather than begging for spare change, I believe we would experience more of the supernatural power of God (Hebrews 4:16).
I recently laid hands on a man who was suffering back pain for a year and a half. The power flowed and healing was at work. He was even mindful to ask me to move my hands to an area that was in worse pain. But when I finished, I diagnosed through conversation that he believed healing was something that was not easily accessible. He did not have full confidence that what was ministered was freely his and that it was permanent -- meaning that it could come and go. After offering some encouragement about what we already have as believers and offering to minister to him again, we parted ways. I later heard the healing manifested the next morning after a good night's rest (something back pain often prevents). Praise the Lord!
Sometimes, what we need is a change in perspective to see ourselves as sons and daughters of a loving Father who has already provided everything we need. Then, when the time comes to lay on hands, we will be receivers who will freely take what is ours in Jesus Christ.