The Joyful Work of Spiritual Healing
MANY men in this old world concentrate on ways to destroy life. Some men seek to save life. Doctors do this. What a thrill must be theirs to enter a room where a child nears death and they are able to diagnose the case, prescribe the remedy, administer it, and watch the flush of life return to the pale cheeks! What satisfaction must be the doctor’s that completes a delicate operation that saves a man’s life! More rewarding than any monetary fee must be the joy and thrill of knowing that he has extended a human life for ten or twenty years.
Much greater must have been the joys of Jesus when he was on earth. He alludes to himself as a physician, and part of his record in physical healing reads: “The blind are seeing again, and the lame are walking about, the lepers are being cleansed and the deaf are hearing, and the dead are being raised up, and the poor are having the good news declared to them.” Again, “Then great crowds approached him, having along with them people that were lame, crippled, blind, dumb, and many otherwise, and they fairly threw them at his feet, and he cured them; so that the crowd felt amazement as they saw the dumb speaking and the lame walking and the blind seeing, and they glorified the God of Israel.”—Matt. 11:5; 15:30, 31; Mark 2:17, NW.
On one occasion Jesus cured ten lepers. Men cannot cure leprosy as Jesus did and without leaving its crippling effects. Jesus gave sight to a man born blind. Today’s doctors can make glasses but not eyes. They can provide hearing aids, but cannot restore the sense of hearing as Jesus did. They can remove an arm or a leg, but it is possible that Jesus could replace such a lost body member. The Greek word translated “crippled” at Matthew 15:30 is rendered “maimed” at Mark 9:43, where it refers to an amputated hand; so it is not beyond possibility that some of the crippled Jesus healed were amputees. Jesus’ cures never ended in failure. The mistakes of present doctors often send patients to the grave, whereas Jesus brought persons back from the grave. What great joy it must have been to Jesus to go around the countryside, see a blind man and restore his sight, or see a deaf man and restore his hearing, or see one dumb and bid him speak, or tell the dead to rise to life again!—Luke 17:12-14; John 9:1, 7; Mark 5:41, 42; John 11:43, 44.
What if we could do that? What if we could go out on the street and see a blind man guided by a seeing-eye dog and tell him to see and his sight would be restored? What if we could tell a paralytic to get off his bed and walk and he would do so? or bid a girl on crutches throw them aside and walk without them? or replace the artificial leg of an amputee with one of flesh and blood? Above all, what if we could attend a funeral and, instead of helplessly grieving with the others, tell the deceased to rise from the coffin and walk out and that amazing miracle would take place? Would not the deep satisfaction coming from such accomplishments be so rewarding in itself that we would not think of financial gain? Our joy would be so overflowing we would not stop short of complete exhaustion. As long as any blind or lame or deaf or dumb remained in the earth we would want to be busy in the work of healing.
“WORKS GREATER THAN THESE”
Jesus performed these miracles of physical healing, yet he said his disciples would do greater works: “Most truly I say to you, He that exercises faith in me, that one also will do the works that I do, and he will do works greater than these, because I am going my way to the Father.” (John 14:12, NW) His followers today cannot perform the miracles of physical healing. What can they do that rivals or surpasses such mighty works? With the truths of Jehovah’s Word they can be instrumental in spiritual healing. Jesus did this spiritual healing by declaring the truths of Jehovah, and it is associated with his physical cures, at Matthew 11:5. He viewed it as more important than physical healing, and used the latter mainly to get the people to give attention to the message he preached, to get the early Christian body established and matured for declaring the good news. It was the truths for spiritual healing rather than physical cures that he wanted publicized.—1 Cor. 13:8-11; Mark 5:43; Matt. 24:14.
But since Christ Jesus, in addition to performing amazing physical cures, did the work of spiritual healing, how can it be said that his followers do greater works? Suppose a doctor discovers a drug that cures a disease or develops an operational technique that makes possible a delicate, lifesaving operation. After applying his discovery for three or four years and in that time curing forty or fifty persons, this doctor dies. But he has taught others, and after his death hundreds and thousands of doctors copy his methods and for many years and in many lands cure thousands upon thousands of persons. Because their works accumulate over a long period of time and spread over large areas, are they not greater in time and extent than those of the original doctor? The doctor inaugurating the cures is the vital figure, but the ones that follow accumulate a far larger number of cures. So it is with Jesus and his followers. He inaugurates the work and is the leader and perfecter of the way, the model in whose steps his disciples must follow. But his exclusive performance of the work was confined to Palestine and lasted only three and a half years, whereas his followers do it earth-wide and for many years. It is in this sense that their works are greater.
THE SPIRITUAL HEALING
Not with the physical ailing of an individual in mind, but with the spiritual sickness of the nation of Israel in view, Jehovah’s prophet said: “Where will you still be smitten, that you continue in your defection? The whole head is ailing, and the whole heart sick; from the sole of the foot to the head there is no health in it—nought but blows and bruises and bleeding wounds, that have not been pressed nor bound up nor softened with oil.” But following a period of captivity in Babylon a restoration and spiritual healing was to come: “None who dwells there will say, ‘I am sick,’ for all her citizens will have had their sins forgiven.” “Behold, I will bring them complete recovery and healing, and will reveal to them abundance of peace and security.” Associating sins and their forgiveness with the sickness shows it was primarily spiritual. In figurative speech this spiritual healing is portrayed as physical: “Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing.” The fulfillment of this prophecy following the return from Babylon must have been in a spiritual sense, since the physically blind and deaf and lame and dumb were not miraculously cured.—Isa. 1:5, 6; 33:24; Jer. 33:6; Isa. 35:5, 6, AT.
When Jehovah restored his people to the Promised Land, ending their captivity in Babylon, they were cleansed of their former sins and were able to re-establish true worship at the rebuilt temple at Jerusalem. In a spiritual sense the inhabitants of the land could not say they were sick, and in a spiritual sense Jehovah did bring in health and cure. Eyes once blind to Jehovah’s leading and ears once deaf to his commands now opened to see and hear and obey. Those who formerly made a lame response now leaped to do Jehovah’s service, and tongues formerly silent now readily sang out the praises of Jehovah God.
Centuries later Jesus performed a similar work of spiritual healing, and in this present day Jehovah’s witnesses are used to effect spiritual cures—an opening of eyes blind to Jehovah’s purposes, an unstopping of ears deaf to his commands, a training of silent tongues to speak truth and sing praises, an energizing of lame ones to the point of going from door to door to preach, and even a bringing to life and spiritual activity of those dead in trespasses and sins. (Eph. 2:1) It takes words of truth from the Bible to end spiritual sickness and provide spiritual health, and once we have it we must “keep holding the pattern of healthful words.” If anyone does not accept these healthful words of truth and teaches false doctrine he is mentally diseased, spiritually sick: “If any man teaches other doctrine and does not assent to healthful words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, nor to the teaching that accords with godly devotion, he is puffed up with pride, not understanding anything, but being mentally diseased over questionings and debates about words.” Jehovah’s truths mean spiritual health and life: “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.” The wisdom from above constitutes a tree of life.—2 Tim. 1:13; 1 Tim. 6:3, 4, NW; Prov. 4:20, 22; 3:13-18.
Materialistic persons today fail to appreciate spiritual healing, though they would welcome physical cures. A physical cure might extend their life ten or twenty years, but spiritual healing would open the way for life, not just for ten or twenty years, or ten or twenty million years, but for eternity. Yet they refuse to be healed of their spiritual illness, oblivious to the fact that they are spiritually blind, deaf, dumb, lame, unclean and even dead. Often they deliberately make themselves so, closing eyes and ears to the truth, refusing to discuss the Bible. (Zech. 7:11-14; Acts 7:57; Rev. 3:17-19) Though they pass the most rigid eye examination, if they cannot see in the present world happenings the sign of the establishment of Jehovah’s kingdom in heaven they are blind to the most momentous event of our times. Though their sharp ears can hear a pin drop at the busiest intersection of the biggest city, if they cannot responsively hear Jehovah’s commands they are deaf to the most important voice in the universe. Though their tongues pour out a continuous flood of words, if they cannot speak Jehovah’s message they are dumb to the most vital speech. Bodies may have energy to work all day and dance all night, but if they are motionless and inactive in Jehovah’s service they are dead in trespasses and sins, not alive to Jehovah at all.—1 Tim. 5:6.
What would we think of a doctor that turned his back on a critically sick man, letting him die because the doctor did not want to be bothered? Since the spiritual healing is far more vital, is it not more reprehensible for true Christians to ignore the needs of the spiritually sick multitudes? A ministration of truth might wash clean the spiritually leprous ones and make happy the eyes once blind and the ears once deaf: “Happy are your eyes because they behold, and your ears because they hear.” (Matt. 13:16; Eph. 5:26, 27, NW) But if Christians withhold healthful words and let those now dead in trespasses and sins die physically at Armageddon, their responsibility compares with the doctor’s that turns his back on the dying. Jehovah holds them accountable.—Ezek. 33:8.
In emergencies doctors should be available any hour of the day or night. In physical healing Jesus did not refuse assistance, but took on the infirmities of the people, spent himself in the cause, felt force go from him when he healed others. (Matt. 8:17; Isa. 53:4; Mark 5:30) Christians today should not spare themselves but should spend their energies in the work of spiritual healing, feeling the same compassion for the afflicted ones that Jesus felt, as stated at Matthew 9:36 (NW): “On seeing the crowds he felt tender affection for them, because they were skinned and knocked about like sheep without a shepherd.” The injuries that here roused Jesus’ pity were spiritual, caused by the lack of a faithful shepherd to look after their spiritual interests. Followers of Christ should feel tender affection for persons today who are spiritually sick because Christendom’s unfaithful shepherds have failed to feed and protect them spiritually, and the healthful words of truth should be made available to them.
Doctors spend long years studying and training for their profession, and when they practice it they use what is termed a good bedside manner, having the mental attitude of their patient in mind. Jehovah’s witnesses must study diligently, learn the truth, learn how to present it effectively, and use a doorside manner that shows tact and understanding of the householder’s mental state. Just as the doctor must diagnose his patient’s illness and determine the needed remedy, so Jehovah’s witnesses must discover the particular spiritual ailment of the householder and present the truths that will clear up that difficulty. Many will not permit this administration of healing truth, even denying that they are spiritually sick. They may not permit us to help them, just as some, like Christian Scientists, will not permit a doctor to aid them medically because they deny they are physically sick. Still, Christians know the multitudes are spiritually ailing and they must diligently offer the healing truths, letting any refusal come from the sick multitudes and not from themselves.
So reflect for a moment. If you could heal the physically blind, deaf, dumb, lame, leprous, and even raise the dead, would you not be doing it tirelessly, thrilled beyond description with the sheer joy of such miraculous accomplishments? Knowing the spiritual healing is more vital, its benefits more lasting, its urgency more pressing, will we spend ourselves in it as much as or more than we would if we could go out and tell a blind man to see, or a deaf one to hear, or a dumb one to speak, or a lame one to walk or a leprous one to be clean, or even a dead one to come to life again? The spiritual healing is not so spectacular in fleshly appearance and awesomeness, and hence not so glamorous to the imagination. But it is permanent, not temporary, and in time brings with it perfect and everlasting physical health. Share in it with zeal. Joy in the cures observed. Appreciate its urgency, its vitalness. “Ponder over these things, be absorbed in them, that your advancement may be manifest to all persons. Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”—1 Tim. 4:15, 16, NW.