Why Do You Do What is Unlawful on the Sabbath? A Bible Study by Jack…
I Am The Lord Who Heals You, Part 2: Healing By The Numbers
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
I am the Lord, Who heals you, Ex 15:26
Every so often I’ll write something that looks just fine to me at the time, but then several days later I’ll read it again and wonder what I was thinking. So it was with the statement in part 1 that there are seven healing miracles in the gospels that contain a version of the phrase “Your faith has made you well.”
I was writing from memory, and it’s almost right. There are seven accounts of miracles that contain that phrase, but altogether there are actually 21 unique personal incidents in the Gospels that describe healing from sickness or disease. Additionally, an unknown number of people, probably in the thousands, were healed in events described only as “He went among the people healing all their sick.” Variations of that phrase occur nine times in the Gospels. And of course the disciples healed numerous others on their two mission trips. On top of all that there were three cases where someone was raised from the dead, which I believe is something entirely different, pointing more to His promise of eternal life rather than His ability to ease our suffering in this one. And in one case an ear cut off in a sword fight was reattached.
21 Showcase Events
So out of the thousands of people healed during the Lord’s 3 ½ year ministry, the Gospel writers chose to highlight 21 events as examples for our learning. Using the spiritual significance of numbers in the Scriptures, the number 21 indicates both their source and effectiveness. Reducing 21 into its mathematical equation of 3 X 7 we see the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (3) through whom this miraculous healing power flows, and (7) their capability to completely heal us. (7 implies spiritual completeness.)
We can accept the fact that Jesus, our Creator God in the physical form of His Son, could have the power to heal a person but the fact that He did so through the Holy Spirit means that the Holy Spirit could invest others, like you and me, with this power as well. Jesus promised that this is exactly what would happen (John 14:12), and the hundreds of healings documented in Book of Acts plus the inclusion of healing in the list of spiritual gifts in 1 Cor. 12 testify to the validity of His promise.
The seven phrases that refer to faith repeat the notion of spiritual completeness in the context of our part in the process. Since the gospels refer to times where people’s lack of faith hindered the Lord’s miraculous work (Matt. 13:58), faith must play a big part. Seven mentions make our faith a significant if not crucial component of the healing, and the ruins of Korizin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum bear mute testimony to the consequences of a lack of faith. (Matt. 11:20-24)
And even the thousands of healings that aren’t individually described are important, implying that believers without number can be healed. So while there’s no limit to God’s miraculous power, all told 33 people were healed in these 21 showcase events. A closer look reveals more of the story.
Healing By The Numbers
Eleven were lepers. Like yeast, leprosy was often used symbolically as a model for sin. Sin corrupts us spiritually, but since there’s no visible sign, the physical effects of leprosy on a person’s body presented a graphic model of the corruption process. When Matthew chose the cleansing of a leper as the first miracle in his gospel, he was demonstrating to Israel the Lord’s power to take away sin. Eleven is the number of confusion and shows the extent to which the Jews were in disagreement over the Lord’s ability to forgive their sins. The physical healings were plain for all to see, but how could they tell if their sins had really been forgiven? Only God can forgive sins, they argued. Is this man claiming to be God? Even the cleansing of lepers didn’t persuade them, and in fact served to make many of the leaders angry.
Six men were healed from blindness. Six is the number of man, and these healings symbolize that man, born spiritually blind, will only be enabled to see the redemptive Love that God has for Him through the life, death and resurrection of the Messiah.
Five were healed of various types of sickness more common to man. Five, the number of grace, demonstrates that we don’t have to earn our healing, it’s an unmerited favor.
Four were demon possessed. Four is the number of the Earth, because by the fourth day of Creation the Earth had taken on its permanent form with the sun, moon and stars all in place. 1 John 5:19 tells us the whole world is under the control of the Evil One. Casting out demons from four men shows the Lord’s power over Satan on Earth.
Four were paralyzed or crippled. This symbolized man’s inability to “walk” alone on Earth, and how God’s power and protection are necessary to sustain him.
Two men who were mute were enabled to speak. Two is the number of testimony or witness. The symbolism is obvious.
One was both deaf and mute. The Jews had an exorcism ritual that required the demon to identify himself by name. Rendering its victim both deaf and mute placed a demon beyond the limits of this ritual’s power. By healing this man Jesus showed the superiority of God’s power over both the demonic world and man’s religion. One is God’s number. Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One! (Deut. 6:4)
But Wait There’s More
In addition to the 21 individual cases, the Gospels record nine mass healings. Being the last numeral, 9 is the number of finality. These nine events signify that the sin problem which brought illness into the world in the first place was finally and forever being addressed at the cross. And as I indicated above, there were 3 resuscitations from death, (I say resuscitation instead of resurrection because all three eventually died again and resurrection is a permanent escape from death) and 1 incident where the Lord reversed an injury inflicted in a sword fight (the ear of the High Priest’s servant).
When a disciple of John the Baptist asked Jesus if He was the Messiah, Jesus replied, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the Good News is preached to the poor.” (Matt. 11:4-5) By His healing miracles He validated His ministry as the fulfillment of Old Testament Messianic prophecy.
Later He told His disciples, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12) By this He meant that by going to the Father, He would be releasing the Holy Spirit into the world, Who would invest believers with similar powers.” (John 16:7)
I’ve seen the prayers of believers result in immediate miraculous healing. I’ve seen prayers that were combined with the skill of a surgeon to produce complete recovery. I’ve seen believers taken immediately into the presence of the Lord following prayers for healing. And I’ve seen faithful daily prayer require years of repetition to produce visible results. I’m persuaded beyond reasonable doubt that the Lord went to the cross so we could be healed as well as saved, and when we gather together and pray for healing for each other powerful forces are loosed in Heaven on behalf of those we pray for. The Lord is sovereign, He acts in His own time and His own way, but He commands us to pray for healing. Based on my experience, I know that His Word is as good today as when He spoke it. Selah.