Aug 22 2013
What Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus means for spiritual and physical healing.
Can you remember the details of your conversion experience? If it was an obvious move from darkness to light you probably remember something that got your curiosity going. Perhaps you felt God’s presence in a church, or it was something a friend said or did that impacted you. Such an experience usually leads us to a period where we ask lots of questions before we make a final decision. Nicodemus was no different (John 3:1-16). He came to Jesus one night because he had seen the miracles he was doing and was starting to believe that Jesus really had an authority from God.
Knowing Nicodemus was starting to see God in what he was doing, Jesus said, “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Obviously Nicodemus was not born again, but Jesus used the fact that he was seeing something to explain that complete sight could only come by a radical transformation of the heart, something so radical that Jesus called it being ‘born again.’
This term ‘born again’ threw Nicodemus. He could not understand how anyone could be born a second time? ♦ If we were hearing that term for the first time we would probably be just as confused. Jesus then explained that ‘Flesh gives birth to flesh, and Spirit gives birth to spirit,’ and that he was talking of a purely spiritual rebirth.
But Nicodemus remained confused and asked, “How can this be?” Jesus then said that it would be hard to explain to him God’s heavenly activity if he could not even grasp the way God deals with people’s hearts. But Jesus took this opportunity to explain how God would change the heart of mankind; he said that just as Moses had lifted up the figure of a bronze snake on a pole in the desert to heal those who had been poisoned by snakes, so the Son of Man would be lifted up on a cross to heal those who had been poisoned by sin.
Now days the figure of a snake on a pole is used in medical logos as a symbol of physical healing, while churches use the figure of Christ on a cross as a symbol of spiritual healing. Jesus was telling Nicodemus that the human heart needed radical healing for anyone to see, let alone enter, the kingdom of God.
The apostle Peter put it like this, “He himself (Jesus) bore our sins in his body on the tree (cross), so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds (‘stripes’ in KJV) you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of you souls” (1 Peter 2:24-25).
Note that when Peter says ‘by his wounds you have been healed’, he is talking about spiritual healing, not physical healing; he says we are healed so we won’t go astray anymore; we are healed so we die to sin and live for righteousness. This happens when our hearts are healed; when we are born again. Peter is speaking to believers and saying, ‘You have been healed, you have been forgiven, you have been born again.’ Often believers and even pastors have failed to see the context of this verse. This scripture does not say we are healed physically, it says we are healed spiritually, if we are born again. It is logical that all believers are spiritually healed, but not all are physical healed, and the context of the verse supports this.
Both spiritual healing and physical healing happen by the administrative work of the Holy Spirit. That is to say; it is the Holy Spirit who applies the cross to the lives of individuals, and he does it in his time and his way. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). He is saying that the Holy Spirit moves about like wind. You cannot see him, but you can see his effects. And he sees the human heart and knows who is ready to receive salvation. His timely touch enables our spiritual and physical healing, and we cannot force his hand.
We all know what a mess we can make when we try to force someone to convert when they are not ready, and what a mess we make when we tell someone they are healed when they are not. We must remember; it is us who must follow the Holy Spirit; it is not the Holy Spirit who must follow us! We must do what he wants; he does not do what we want! When we do what he is doing there will always be power – ALWAYS! It is when we try to be the administrator of God’s power that it falls flat. Remember, it is not just a case of ‘scripture plus faith’, it’s a relationship with God where we always ask, ‘Holy Spirit, what do you want to do in this situation?’ We must learn to hear his voice and follow for ‘The wind blows wherever it pleases.’
Other Illustrations used: A tough guy happens to be fearful of God.
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