Archive for the ‘Healing power’ Category

THE HEALING MINISTRY OF JESUS:

January 17, 2009

Healing Power of Jesus:

Jesus healed and exorcised. Miracles are signs of his divinity, of his messianic mission. They are an integral part of the work given by the Father to him (Jn 5:17.36; 14:10), a continuation of the works of God in the Old Testament, like Creation (Gn 2:2) and the Exodus (Ex 34:10; Ps 66:5). Miracles expressed the saving power of God, shown in his healings, feedings, and even resuscitations of the dead. Jesus pointed out to them as signs of his Messiahship (cf.Lk 7:22). They are linked with faith: “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me” (Jn 10:37; cf.15:24). Even after the multiplication of loaves and fishes, many did not believe in Jesus (cf.Jn 6:26). As a matter of fact, Jesus could not perform miracles in his own home country because of their unbelief; instead, he went among the villages teaching (Mk 6:5f). Miracle narratives are not eye-witness reports or scientific-medical documents, but unsophisticated, popular narratives at the service of the proclamation of the Kingdom of Jesus. Events did take place; Jesus’ enemies did not challenge the cure, but the propriety of curing on the Sabbath (Mk 3:1-6, cf.2).

In the accounts of several miracles, we find many details, human and true to life, suggesting the presence of an eyewitness (cf. Mk 9:14-29).

Jesus had impact upon the people and through his miracles and exorcisms would create a renewed community, sign of the Kingdom of God (cf.Vatican II, LG no.5).

Jesus exorcised and was accused to be in alliance with Beelzebul. Jesus responds to the false accusation of those who attached false labels to his exorcising activity. The activity of Jesus as an exorcist provoked different societal reactions. “The people were amazed, but some of them said: ‘he casts out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the Prince of demons'” (Q 11:14b-15).

The ‘deviant’ nature of the exorcisms of Jesus and societal reaction to them can only be understood in the context of the culture in which he and his accusers lived. Exorcisms were an essential part of Jesus’ activity. Through his response Jesus showed that it was not a deviant, but a normative behaviour. His disciples were sent by him to cast out demons (Mk 6:7). That was his primary activity (Q 10:17; Mk 6:13). Jesus redefined successfully the meaning of his exorcisms. He rejected the accusation of being allied to Beelzebul. The reason is that, if he expels demons by the power of Beelzebul, then the Kingdom of Beelzebul is divided against itself. Beelzebul cannot act against itself (Mt 12:25-26 par.). A divided kingdom/house (most probably the ruler’s family) cannot continue to exist. Jesus does not belong to Satan’s kingdom (basileia). Then Jesus continues to argue ad hominem that if he casts out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the same can be said of them; thus, the shame/deviance that his accusers want to attach to him, reverts to them.

But Jesus offers an alternate explanation of his exorcisms. As he belongs to the Kingdom of God, he is acting, not on behalf of the Prince of demons, but on behalf of the Spirit of God. His exorcisms manifest, not an alliance with Satan, but war against him and victory over him.

On the contrary, Jesus attacks the house of Beelzebul. The reign of Satan is not divided, but under siege (like the ruler’s house attacked by a throne rival–an image that would be familiar to the audience of Jesus).

Demonic possession was frequent. It was an escape-valve. It was a way to cope up with the exploitation, conflicts, colonial domination and revolution. By casting out the demons, Jesus would reintegrate the marginalized people into the society and this would be perceived as a threat to the governing elite. This exorcistic activity had links with his trial and crucifixion. Through exorcism, Jesus was engaged in a cosmic war against Satan. The real meaning and purpose of his exorcisms was to integrate into the renewed society those who were marginalized. Jesus called them to be a part of a new family together with him and his followers. Victory over Satan was the sign of the dawning of God’s rule, which means the creation of a new social order.

This was highly disruptive. The puzzling reaction to his exorcisms by his own family, as well as by the people, the scribes and Herod Antipas suggests that the social reintegration of demoniacs had social and political connotations for Jesus and for his contemporaries that are opaque to us. We can understand also why his table-fellowship with tax-collectors and sinners was resisted. Jesus called his disciples to be with him (Mk 3:13) and then he sent them to proclaim the Gospel and heal (Lk 10:9). His apostles followed the same prophetic and healing line (cf.Acts 5:15).

Dr.Ivo da C.Souza

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