Healing in the Book of Luke
In Jesus’ day, as now, the work of healing and health was essential. Jesus heals people in thirteen episodes in the Gospel of Luke: 4:31-37; 4:38-44; 5:12-16; 5:17-26; 7:1-10; 7:11-17; 7:21; 8:26-39; 8:40-56; 9:37-45; 13:10-17; 17:11-19; and 18:35-43. By doing so, he brings wellness to suffering people, as he announced he would do when he took on the mantle of king. In addition, the healings are actualizations of the coming kingdom of God, in which there will be no sickness (Revelation 21:4). God not only commands people to work for others’ benefit, he empowers people to do so. God’s power is not restricted to Jesus himself, for in two passages, Jesus empowers his followers to heal people (Luke 9:1-6, 10:9). Yet all the healings depend on God’s power. Theologian Jürgen Moltmann sums this up beautifully. “Jesus’ healings are not supernatural miracles in a natural world. They are the only truly ‘natural’ thing in a world that is unnatural, demonized, and wounded.” They are a tangible sign that God is putting the world back to right.
The healings reported in the Gospels are generally miraculous. But Christians’ non-miraculous efforts to restore human bodies can also be seen as extensions of Jesus’ life-giving ministry. It would be a mistake not to notice how important healing is to the redemptive work of God’s kingdom. This work is performed daily by doctors, nurses, technologists, claims processors, hospital parking lot attendants, and countless others whose work makes healing possible. Luke himself was a physician (Colossians 4:14), and we can imagine his particular interest in healing. However, it would be a mistake to infer that the healing professions are inherently higher callings than other professions.
The Way of Jesus Christ (London: SCM, 1990), 69.