Abstract: Missionaries sent to a people group totally unfamiliar with the gospel often look for a “redemptive analogy” present within the culture of that people group in order for them to grasp the gospel clearly. The redemptive analogy relevant to every culture on earth is in fact miraculous healing from sickness.
When the gospel is being shared on the mission field to those who never heard, it is very helpful to provide an analogy for the redemption that Jesus Christ provided through his death and resurrection. In the gospels and Acts we can see a most appropriate and meaningful analogy of redemption presented over and over: each time the Lord Jesus Christ performed a miraculous healing, he was in effect providing the perfect analogy.
We see this most clearly in Mark 2 when Jesus healed the paralytic who had been lowered into the house through a hole made in the roof above while Jesus was ministering.
Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
6 And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
By healing the paralytic, Jesus proved that he had authority to forgive his sins—to redeem him from sin—and grant him eternal life.
As an illustration, take the President of the United States. When someone is convicted of a federal crime, he is sent to a federal prison. Now the President has the authority to release this convict from prison. From where does he get such authority? It comes from his or her authority as President to pardon the convict of his crime—an action we call a Presidential Pardon. And when a convict has been pardoned of his transgression, he is of course set free from prison.
Physical sickness is a form of prison. Sickness and infirmities are ultimately the consequence of our basic sin nature with which we were born as descendants of Adam and Eve. If sin had not come into the world as a result of their sin, today there would be neither disease nor death. We are subject to the prison of physical sickness (and suffering in general)—ultimately because of sin in the world and because our sin nature.
When Jesus healed the sick thereby releasing them from the prison of sickness, he proved—analogous to the authority of a US President—that he had authority to forgive the sin which had put them into the prison of sickness in the first place.
Jesus is the Lamb who was slain for the forgiveness of our sins and to redeem us from sin.
Revelation 13:8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.
In Mark 2 when Jesus healed the paralytic, he was in fact demonstrating with visible evidence that he had authority to forgive sin. Each and every time Jesus healed the sick in the gospels, he was demonstrating his authority to save men and women from sin. Each and every time in Acts when the sick were miraculously healed in the name of Jesus Christ, the most perfect redemptive analogy of all was given for the world to see.
Wrongdoing followed by punitive consequences, as well as sickness and disease, are common to all cultures on earth. And most if not all people who suffer from sickness desire to be well.
Disciples today can be trained how to heal the sick miraculously as compelling evidence to those in any culture that Jesus Christ can forgive sin—and that He is the only way to eternal life in heaven.
Jesus gave outward and visible evidence of his authority to forgive sin: his authority to destroy a consequence of sin—that is, sickness and disease.
This is indisputable evidence for those in any culture on earth—even cultures completely foreign to Westerners. Miraculous healing of the sick indeed crosses and even transcends all cultural barriers to the gospel.