8 April 2020
After Jesus had cleansed the temple, in Matthew’s version there is an addition that is not in the other Gospels: “Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.” (Matthew 21:14). After the house was cleansed and became a house of prayer, it then became a house of power.
In the three years of Jesus’ ministry, humanity saw and experienced healings, miracles, deliverance from demonic oppression. This points to Jesus’ identity as the Messiah and to His message that the Kingdom of God is here. It demonstrates God’s love and mercy for His creation. In Jesus’ words, “Ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom satan has bound – think of it! – for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” (Luke 13:16), there is such an eagerness and a desire for the woman to be healed. It is God’s will for all of us to be healed. The works and the identity of the Messiah are interconnected.
The cross of Christ is the tree of life
Let us look at the relationship between the cross of Christ and healing. Revelation 22:2 tells us, “In the middle of its street and on either side of the river was the tree of life which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Medicine comes from trees and their leaves. Trees in the Bible often refer to the cross. Often we see the Corpus Christi of a crucifix on dry wood, but some believe that Jesus was crucified on a living or “green” tree, as implied by Luke 23:31: “If they do these things in the green tree, what will happen in the dry?” For St. Paul, Christ’s crucifixion is the fulfilment of the Old Testament curse on one who is hanged on a tree.¹
St. Irenaeus saw the cross as the tree of life, contrasting it with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil through which man fell. Through the cross, Jesus Christ “‘has destroyed the handwriting of our debt and fastened it to the cross' ², so that by means of the tree we may obtain remission of our sins and debt.”³ Early Christians adapted the relationship between the tree of life and the cross. The cross of Christ, the wood of suffering and death, is for Christians the tree of life. “It recurs again and again... the idea that the living trunk of the cross bears twigs and leaves.”⁴ This comes from Ezekiel‘s vision of the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding fruit every month, in a never-ending supply of life. We see here that the cross of Christ is in contrast to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that the tree of the cross now brings life.
Healing is here and now
In St. John’s vision, the tree and its leaves are for the healing of the nations: it is not reserved for eternity, but it’s for us here and now. Do you receive eternal life when you get to heaven, or here and now? The tree of life is sustaining believers now as they partake of Christ. St. John saw the healing virtues of the cross in giving life to the nations of this world. Acts 10:38 relates “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”
We believe in miracles, and that they did not stop when Christ ascended on high. Miracles, healings and deliverance from demonic oppression can happen today in the life of a Christian. When Christ ascended on high, He gave spiritual gifts to the Church for its edification, growth and ministry to the world. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost made it possible for the Church to embody the presence and anointing of Christ. The ministry of Christ continues in and through the Church to alleviate man’s suffering from sickness and disease. Christians who are baptised in the Holy Spirit can lay hands on the sick, anointing them with holy oil, and believing that the sick will recover. Let us not forget that this is possible, because we believe in the work and the gifts of the Holy Spirit poured upon the Church. These things are not outdated, but we can experience them if we believe them.