Matthew 8:14-17 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Jesus Heals Many at Peter’s House
14 When Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever; 15 he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.
Someone recently asked me what we (United Methodists) believe about healing, as described in the scriptures, for us today. Well, it’s complicated. I researched the official United Methodist website for a statement on healing and found,
“The gift of healing is not about transferring spiritual power to eliminate suffering and disease, but the ability to channel God’s grace and healing love to those who suffer physical, emotional, or spiritual pain. Healers are moved to be present with those who suffer. Healers pray for those who suffer, visit those who are ill, and are usually moved to extend a hand of comfort and touch to those who are afflicted. Healers give their time and energy to offering aid and comfort to others.”
John Wesley, the founder of this movement called Methodism, had a special interest in the healing arts. Wesley was well-versed in the modern medicine of his day, and believed strongly that God was at work in the scientific advancements that were emerging. He also believed in the power of prayer. He prayed with people for healing and followed the guiding of scripture to “anoint with oil” and, as in the letter of James 5:16, believed, “the prayers of a righteous person availeth much.” However, Wesley would not have supported those who practiced such healing for their own glory or aggrandizement. Wesley believed that healing came in various forms, and one of those was death. Death could indeed be a form of final healing.
I believe it is clear in scripture that there is an unmistakable connection between the body, the mind, and the spirit. We know, for example, that stress leads to many diseases. A troubled spirit can have a bodily effect. The call of the Gospel and our call today is to live in the wholeness of God’s grace, to practice all of the spiritual disciplines to maintain our spirit’s wholeness, to exercise and eat so that our body is healthy, and to trust God to “take our infirmities and bear our diseases” all for the sake of the Kingdom of God that is revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.