Power in the New Testament: physical healing and forgiveness of sins
The ministry of Jesus began with healing. No sooner had Jesus returned from the wilderness and His great temptation, than He opened the scrolls in the synagogue in his village in Nazareth and read from Isaiah the proclamation of His mission:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come” (Is 61:1, Luke 4:18-19).
In that same chapter of Luke we read about all sorts of healings – leprosy, fevers, casting out of demons. Jesus went about teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sicknesses and all manner of disease among the people. (Matt 4:23)
There is miracle after miracle of healing recorded in the gospels and Acts, but physical healing was secondary to his chief assignment –the healing of the souls of men. This is why His mission statement starts with being anointed to preach the gospel and liberate people. Sickness and disease are the conspicuous physical expressions of what really troubles man, the bleak and menacing disease that has its roots in the souls of men – the disease of sin.
Notice how many times Jesus said to those He healed, “Go and sin no more!” “Your sins are forgiven you”. Or when the Pharisees chided him for sitting down with sinners, He retorted, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Matt 9:12) and that He came not to call the righteous but the sinners to repentance (Matt 9:13). Jesus was always pointing people back to his chief mission.
While He went about healing people, Jesus was ever inviting the people to “Come unto me and I will give you rest for your souls” (Matt 11:28). Healing from sin was the reason that Jesus came. His physical healing, then and today, is proof that He forgives the sins of those who receive Him.