His Healing Touch
Read For This Week's Study: Matt. 6:12-15; 9:27-31; 14:35, 36; Mark 10:13-16; Isa. 53:4, 5.
Memory Text: "And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people" (Matthew 9:35).
Key Thought: Just as Jesus used His hands to form Adam from the clay of the ground, He often healed by laying His hands on the suffering. He understood our need to be touched. Even when He did not physically touch those He healed, He always touched the spirit. He invites us to extend that healing touch.
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What can we expect from His healing touch God's pardon (1 John 1:9), provision (Matt. 6:33), and presence (Heb. 13:5).
Jesus was the ultimate realist. Although He spoke of the abundant life and blessings of obedience, He never minimized the opposition, affliction. and suffering each believer would encounter. Shortly before His death, Jesus reminded His disciples of the rough road ahead. He knew the obstacles they would face. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33, NIV; compare 2 Cor. 4:17, 18).
Jesus' words of warning were based on the promise that He would send the Holy Spirit to be an ever-present source of assurance and strength.
Sunday October 12
His Healing Touch For Body And Soul. (Matt. 14:35, 36).
Numerous times the Gospels reveal that Jesus physically touched people as part of the healing process. His healing touch became a well-established phenomenon. But how many would have been healed if they had waited passively for Him to come to them and touch them? Desperate for healing, crowds of people took the initiative to make the healing contact. "People brought all their sick to Him and begged Him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched Him were healed" (Matt. 14:35, 36, NIV).
Under what circumstances does the Lord promise miraculous healings today? James 5:14, 15.
Brad was in his early twenties and working as a registered nurse in the emergency department at a hospital. In October 1986, Brad noticed that a mole on the back of his left calf was raised and itching. He immediately went to his doctor and had it removed. Brad's physician said, "It looks like a melanoma (cancer)." The pathology report disagreed. Everything seemed all right.
A year later Brad noticed two tiny dark spots on the scar of his first surgery. He returned to his physician, who immediately scheduled him for surgery. This time the pathology report stated, "A recurrent malignant melanoma with lymph-node metastasis"--a very serious diagnosis. Brad's doctor told him that he could expect to live only a few months.
After Brad was released from the hospital, he was anointed. The Lord intervened, and Brad has done well. Ten years later, he has no further recurrence of the melanoma. Most important of all, he is closer to God than ever before and speaks of his healing to the glory of God.
Brad grew up in an Adventist home and attended Adventist schools. He recalls, "I knew all about our religion in theory, but I did not know Christ as my personal Saviour. The day of the surgery, I claimed His promises and surrendered my heart and my life to Him." Jesus answered this prayer and also gave Brad peace. He healed Brad physically, but more important, spiritually. Praise the Lord! Brad now has an exciting new fellowship with Christ and continues his commitment to caring for others in his work as a nurse.
Does God heal because we are good, obedient, and therefore deserving of healing? Explain.
Can God bless the work of physicians and nurses who are atheists?
Monday October 13
His Healing Touch Through Forgiveness (Matt. 6:12-15).
What does Matthew 6:12-15 teach us about forgiveness? Is forgiveness essential to spiritual healing?
Recently, Kathy shared her personal testimony in response to an ongoing tragedy. One night as Kathy and her family were driving home along a busy street, a car traveling at high speed ran a stop sign and hit the van in which they were riding. Kathy's beautiful teenage daughter was thrown from the van and killed instantly. In the blink of an eye, a lovely girl so full of life, so talented, with so many dreams for the future, was gone.
This tragedy left the family brokenhearted. Kathy was grief-stricken and asked God, "Why would You take our daughter from us? We live good moral lives and try to serve You. Why do others living in sin and wickedness go happily on?" She was angry with God and cried, "Lord, I have no hope. How can I go on?" Kathy became paralyzed with grief and was unable to work; with stooped shoulders, she cried continuously.
After several weeks, a call came from the state attorney's office. An attorney told her that, in Florida, the victim's family had a right to help decide the punishment of the accused. Kathy asked questions and discovered the driver was a young man. This accident happened because he was preoccupied and in a hurry to get to work. He was so grief-stricken over the girl's death he wouldn't eat and couldn't sleep. He, too, was paralyzed with grief over the tragedy he had caused.
The mother remembered Christ's words from the cross: 'Father, forgive them," as she discovered the young man was also grief-stricken. "She asked the attorney to "please tell him I forgive him, and I want to see him." Kathy recalls, "Immediately God lifted the biggest weight from my heart. Although I still felt great sadness, He gave me peace and assurance. I knew He would be with us and one day we would meet Him and Melissa in heaven."
Kathy is now assisting the young man to return to school and to get his life in order. She continues to look forward to heaven and a grand reunion with Melissa.
God often provides human hands to provide His healing touch. Have you made it possible for Him to use your hands?
Remember Jesus' cry from the cross, "Father, forgive them" (Luke 23:34). There is no wound too great, too deep, too damaging that it cannot be healed through the Spirit of God. Healing is for those who "trust and obey." (See Isaiah 40:29-31.)
Tuesday October 14
His Healing Touch In Suffering And Trials (Isa. 53:4,5).
Because Jesus' personal suffering was so extreme, we can be sure He empathizes with us in our suffering, no matter how heart-wrenching it may be.
Review the sufferings of Jesus that made our healing possible. Matt. 27:26-50; Isa. 53:4, 5.
The healing power of a compassionate touch that we studied last week is perfectly exemplified in Jesus' experience with, of all people, a leper. "Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man" (Mark 1:41, NIV). Then He spoke the words, "Be clean!" and instantly the leprosy became only a vivid memory of a past life of rejection and isolation.
How important are words when we seek to minister to those who are sick? Why is our presence as important as our words?
When Holland was occupied by Nazi Germany, Corrie Ten Boom, Holland's first woman watchmaker, turned their home above the watch shop into a way station for Jews fleeing the Holocaust.
In February 1944, the Gestapo caught up with them. Corrie, her sister Betsie, and their godly 84 year-old father were taken to the Scheveningen prison. Corrie was placed in solitary confinement. Since childhood her most tormenting fear had been fear of being alone, cut off from people. Now she was alone, sick, and forbidden to speak to others. She prayed to God and asked, Why is this happening?
Many years later, Guidepost magazine reported Corrie's summation of her father's faith: "Whatever the current hardship, whatever the outward appearance, father knew God was in charge, bringing His kingdom to pass. The best is yet to be," was the promise her father gave them every birthday. Betsie's reminder to Corrie was "No pit is so deep that God's love is not deeper still." In prison, in her broken-hearted despair, the memory of her family's faith and the strong conviction that "if we believe in Jesus we can share in the goodness of the resurrection" kept her going. Corrie forgave her persecutors and knew that God was in charge of her life.
Corrie died at the age of 91. She received both mental and spiritual healing in her life and gave an inspiring example of how through Christ a person can overcome despair.
Wednesday October 15
His Healing Touch Whatever The Circumstances (Matt. 9:27-31).
What lessons can we learn from the experience of the two blind men? Matt. 9:27-31.
The two men described in Matthew 9 could hear the commotion of the crowds that flocked to be close to Jesus, and although they could not see Him or the miracles taking place, they felt the electrically-charged atmosphere. After they groped their way inside the house where Jesus had entered, their faith was rewarded when they experienced a once-in-a-lifetime touch that changed blindness into sight.
The world is filled with sorrow, pain, and disappointment; stormy nights without stars, long days without sunshine. As you look for a ray of hope, another crisis knocks you to the ground. What do you do? Where do you turn? How do you climb out of the swamp of hurts? Are there "wounds" so great they can never be healed? Is there healing for all hurts? Matt. 11:28-30.
"For suffering people today, as always, whether physical, mental or spiritual, the pain is real! The problem of pain is not a theoretical problem, a theology game. It is a problem of relationship. Many people want to love God but can't see past their tears. They feel hurt and betrayed."--Philip Yancey, "Where Is God When It Hurts?" (Grand Rapids, Mich.: 1977), p. 112.
As we have studied and observed suffering humanity, sometimes it seems God is silent. Christianity contains paradoxes that would make little sense apart from Jesus' life and death. Although poverty and suffering are evils that I could spend my life fighting, at the same time they can be blessings. This pattern of the bad transformed into good finds its fullest expression in Jesus. We are not exempt from the tragedies of this world, just as Christ Himself was not exempt. We think of pain and suffering as an outrage; Jesus did, too, which is why Re performed miracles of healing.
"In Gethsemane, he pleaded desperately for an escape. Yet, he was willing to undergo suffering in service to a higher goal."--Yancey, p. 230 (See also 1 Peter 5:6, 7.)
The surgery of life hurts; so it helps to know the wounded Surgeon who understands.
Thursday October 16
His Healing Touch Is Not Always Physical Healing (Mark 10:13-16).
Parents experience a heavy burden when their children and young people suffer. The poignant scene of mothers thrusting their children into Jesus' arms, described in Mark 10, climaxes with Jesus' extending to each of them the blessing of His personal touch. He still offers that touch.
If you have prayed for physical healing and have not been healed, how have you (or could you) come to terms with those circumstances? Matt 26:39, 42, 44; Rom. 8:28.
Joni Erickson-Tada is a quadriplegic (her body paralyzed from the neck down). Though in a wheelchair, she speaks and sings of God's goodness. "He'll Bear Me Up on Angels' Wings" is a song of hope she composed.
In the summer of 1967, Joni and her sister rode their horses to the Chesapeake Bay to swim. She spotted a floating raft, swam to it, and dove off. The water was shallow, and her head crashed into a rock. The doctor told her she would never walk again. Joni was devastated. She sobbed, "God, how can You do this to me? Just let me die!"
Millions of people have become acquainted with Joni since the accident. She appears on television programs, records a daily radio broadcast, has played herself in a movie, and has written the story of her life: Joni. Her artwork (done by holding a brush in her teeth) graces a line of cards, posters, and stationery. She uses every opportunity to praise God.
At first Joni found it impossible to reconcile her condition with her belief in a loving God. But one night Joni became convinced God did understand. A close Christian friend said to her, ~Joni, Jesus knows how you feel. He was paralyzed. He couldn't move or change position on the cross. He was paralyzed by the nails." The realization was profoundly comforting. "God became incredibly close to me and eventually I understood that He loves me. I had no other identity but God, and gradually He became enough," stated Joni. "I prayed for healing and truly believed it would come. The Bible speaks of our bodies' being 'glorified.' "Now I realize I will be healed; I'm just going through a forty- or fifty-year delay, and God stays with me even through that."
How can we help suffering people understand that God loves them?
Friday October 17
Further Study: Study the story of the sick woman in the crowd who touched the fringe of Jesus' garment: Luke 8:43-48; The Desire of Ages, pp 342-348.
The writer of this lesson testifies: "When life is going great, we seem to know God has a will for our lives and that we are living in His will. Then tragedy strikes, and we are puzzled. We are disappointed and feel betrayed by God. I've been there, have you?
"Our precious son, Robbie, was born after a very long and difficult delivery. He weighed almost 10 pounds and was a perfect baby, hut he did not breathe immediately. In that short time span, he suffered permanent brain damage.
"We were heartbroken. Over the years, we've seen dozens of specialists. Some physicians told us he would never walk or talk. Along with family and friends, we spent years praying for his healing. We believed, had faith. claimed His promises, and trusted, yet God did not heal Robbie. However, he has blessed us all so richly.
"Robbie is now 34 years old with a mental age of 6. He is happy, somewhat independent, and loves the Lord. Everyone, including physicians, staff, and the families in his developmental school, asks Robbie to pray for them because 'Robbie's prayers are answered.' Robbie says, 'Yes, that's true, but sometimes Jesus says, Wait a while.' He has just won first place in a Special Olympics race. His optimistic outlook and loving ways inspire us all. God has blessed, even though He has not healed Robbie's affliction.
"The answer is never found in bartering with God. The answer isn't found in completing a checklist. The answer is found in making a choice. We can choose to concentrate on the hurt, or we can choose to concentrate on the Healer. Jesus says, 'Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest' (Matt. 11:28, NIV). He offers us his healing touch, many times through the peace He gives in the midst of tears. If anyone understands suffering, He does!
"Our family and our friends, and countless others in similar situations, look forward to heaven, When we will see our dear ones healed completely by the Master Healer! I am sustained by my faith in that hope. 'And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes' (Rev. 21:4)."
Summary: Jesus' healing touch can make sick people well. Even when, for reasons that He alone understands, He does not choose to heal physically, He gives spiritual strength, the grace to endure, the patience to wait for His ultimate healing when He comes again.
The Miracle Twins
Roidel and Roberto are 18-year-old twin brothers who live in Havana, Cuba. Muscular dystrophy has left them almost completely paralyzed since the age of 7. For most of their youth they have been prisoners in their wheelchairs.
Their mother exposed her sons to the world of the occult as she practiced witchcraft and spiritism at home. Without hope for a cure, the brothers grew bitter and began to show aggression toward their friends.
One day Melinda Hernandez, an instructor for Tu Historia Preferida, the Spanish version of Your Story Hour, a popular Seventh-day Adventist radio program, met the brothers. She gave them a cassette tape of "Little Bad Legs," the story of Glenn Cunningham, whose legs were badly burned in an explosion that killed his brother. But Cunningham was determined to walk. He claimed the promise of Isaiah 40:31: "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. . . . They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (NIV). Answering pain with prayer, he learned to walk, then run. He began running races and eventually became a champion runner, and an Olympian.
Roberto and Roidel found hope in the story of Glenn Cunningham. They listened to the cassette over and over. They wondered whether the God who helped Glenn Cunningham could help them to walk again as well. The brothers memorized the Bible promise and searched for other words of hope in the Bible. Finally they had found something they could believe in.
A complete transformation began to take place in the brothers' lives. They began studying the Bible lessons that came with the tape; they attended "Your Story Hour" club meetings. And in time they began to go to church. In January of 1996, they surrendered their hearts to Christ and were baptized. Those present witnessed not only a spiritual transformation but also a physical one. After spending 11 years in their wheelchairs, Roberto and Roidel took their first steps. Although they cannot run, their trust in God has revitalized them physically as well as spiritually.
The brothers' lives are no longer filled with hatred and anger. They now greet their friends with words about the love of Jesus.
Thony Escotto is the speaker for the Spanish Your Story Hour, a popular radio program produced by Seventh-day Adventists in Berrien Springs, Michigan.
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