After His ministry started, Jesus began healing people suffering from various health issues. What can we learn from the early healings Jesus performed?
After His trip to Jerusalem to keep the first Passover of His ministry, Jesus returned to His home region of Galilee. At this point, His public ministry went into full gear, and He gained more prominence (Luke 4:14).
Matthew summed up Jesus’ early Galilean ministry this way: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people” (Matthew 4:23).
Alongside His work of teaching and preaching, Jesus healed “all kinds” of sicknesses and diseases. Through the power of the Father working through Him, Jesus performed healings that relieved suffering and saved some from the clutches of death.
What can we learn from some of the recorded healings of Jesus’ early Galilean ministry?
Jesus heals the nobleman’s son
Interestingly, Jesus’ first recorded healing occurred in the small village of Cana, the location of His first miracle (see “Water Into Wine”).
While in Cana, Jesus was approached by a nobleman—an officer of Herod’s local government—from Capernaum. This nobleman had traveled roughly 20 miles (a day’s journey) to meet Jesus in Cana because his son was extremely ill, “at the point of death” (John 4:47). Because he had heard of Jesus’ miracle-working abilities, the nobleman implored Him to come and heal his boy.
Though the man was sincere and urgent in his request, Jesus could perceive that the nobleman was focused only on the healing—not on Jesus’ message. Jesus lamented that he and many of his countrymen would believe only if they saw “signs and wonders” (verse 48).
The nobleman didn’t deny this, but was almost frantic in his desire for Jesus to visit his son (verse 49).
Jesus knew that the man was interested in Him only for his son’s sake. Nevertheless, Jesus answered his request: “Go your way; your son lives” (verse 50). The nobleman later learned that the healing occurred at the exact moment Jesus spoke those words (verses 51-53).
The main lesson we can learn from this healing is about mercy. Jesus was driven by love, displayed through His mercy. This nobleman did nothing to merit Jesus’ intervention. But he did love his son and Jesus saw his emotional suffering, respected his persistence and effort—and had mercy.
As a result of the healing, the nobleman “believed, and his whole household” (verse 53).
Throughout His ministry, Jesus set a perfect example of mercy—showing love and kindness to people, regardless of whether they merited it. Jesus demonstrated a characteristic He had practiced as God for all eternity: “But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth” (Psalm 86:15).
Mercy and compassion were at the core of Jesus’ character. Christians should also develop mercy and compassion in their character.
Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law
Upon His return to Capernaum, Jesus was confronted with another health emergency. “Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever” (Matthew 8:14). (As a side note, this shows, contrary to what some churches teach, that Simon Peter was a married man who didn’t take a vow of celibacy.)
Depending on her age and health, this fever could have been fatal. Matthew writes that Jesus “touched her hand, and the fever left her” (verse 15). Jesus often gently touched those He healed. The same Man who powerfully drove animals out of the temple with a whip could also show incredible gentleness and tenderness to those who were vulnerable and suffering.
Jesus was the most balanced Man who ever lived.
Touch, or laying on of hands, would become a part of the anointing ceremony instituted in the Church of God. (To learn more about this, read “Divine Healing.”)
Immediately after her fever broke, Peter’s mother-in-law arose and started serving Jesus and the disciples! Though we don’t know much about this woman, this small detail gives us a glimpse into her desire to serve others.
Jesus heals a leper
Around this time, Jesus encountered a man suffering from extreme leprosy. The physician Luke described him as “full of leprosy” (Luke 5:12). This skin condition often left a person severely disfigured from head to toe.
Leprosy was likely what is known as Hansen’s disease, which is caused by a type of bacteria that attacks the nerves under the epidermis, causing a loss of feeling, a change in skin coloration and an extreme susceptibility to cuts and sores. It can even cause the fingers and toes to be absorbed into the body.
It was an awful affliction and, before modern medical treatments, essentially condemned a person to life as a destitute outcast, since people feared contact with lepers and the condition made labor impossible. Lepers often lived together in segregated and impoverished leper colonies.
When this man came near Jesus, he “implored Him,” saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean” (Luke 5:12). In his few words, we learn three keys to praying for God’s intervention.
First, the man implored, or in other words, intensely pleaded, for Jesus’ attention. Likewise, we should take our needs to God with fervency (James 5:16). Prayer for God’s intervention should be with faith and feeling—not hollow and wishy-washy.
Second, the man acknowledged Christ’s unequivocal power to heal. When we take our needs to God, we must faithfully believe and acknowledge that He absolutely has the power and ability to intervene. We must always approach God believing “that He is” and that He is unlimited in His power to intervene (Hebrews 11:6).
Third, knowing full well that Jesus had the power to intervene, the leprous man said, “If You are willing.” He didn’t demand that Jesus respond exactly as he desired—he asked for Christ to act as He saw fit. Later in His life, as He was facing arrest, Jesus also asked for the Father’s will, not His own.
Likewise, Christians take their needs to God and ask Him to intervene “according to His will” (1 John 5:14). We should trust God’s judgment and never demand that God act according to our will.
To learn more about seeking God’s healing, read “Scriptures on Healing.”
Jesus heals the paralytic
In another instance in Capernaum, Jesus was conducting an informal teaching session in a house. So many had gathered that the house filled up and an overflow crowd outside strained to hear His words (Mark 2:1-2).
By declaring that He had the authority to forgive sin, Jesus made His identity clear. He was divine—God in human flesh. In the meantime, four men had come to the area with a paralytic to ask Jesus for healing. At some point in his life, this man had sustained nerve damage that left him paralyzed.
The problem was, the crowd was so large that they couldn’t get the paralyzed man anywhere near Jesus. In one of the most impressive examples of persistence and resourcefulness in the Bible, these four men somehow got their disabled friend onto the roof, removed roofing material and devised some method of lowering him down into the house in front of Jesus (Luke 5:19).
Few people today would be able to pull off such a feat! Jesus was impressed—not just by their ingenuity and tenacity, but by the faith behind it (verse 20).
Interestingly, He used this healing as an opportunity to subtly reveal the truth of His divine identity. To the surprise of everyone, Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven you.”
Some, incorrectly, have taken Jesus’ statement to imply that this man was paralyzed because of a grievous past sin. (The disciples expressed a similar thought in John 9:1-3.) But Jesus made it clear that this was not why He spoke these words. Jesus explained that He said these words “that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” (Luke 5:24).
By declaring that He had the authority to forgive sin, Jesus made His identity clear. He was divine—God in human flesh.
To learn more about Jesus’ divinity, read “Jesus in the Old Testament?”
Learn from Jesus’ healings
These were among the first of many healings Jesus performed. However, these healings were just a tiny foretaste of the even greater time of healing He will bring when He returns to establish His Kingdom on earth (Isaiah 35:6; Malachi 4:2).
Studying Jesus’ healings should not only help us better comprehend God’s unlimited power, but also more deeply trust His ability to intervene to care for our needs. The even greater lesson is about His character—His abundant love, mercy and compassion—that motivated Him to intervene and heal those who suffered.
We must build and develop these same character traits as we strive to . . .
Walk as He walked.