There was this little old broken down church in a broken

         down part of town with only a handful of broken down

         people left in it. One Wednesday night prayer meeting

         they were especially dismayed. They prayed,


             “Lord, you know we’re too old and too weak to

             go out there, into the streets with your gospel.

             If you want us to serve you here bring to us

             some people who need the gospel.”


         The prayer was answered. Sunday morning as they gathered

         for their dry little service people started coming in off

         the street. That first Sunday there must have been fifty

         of them. But the weird thing about it was that every

         single one of the newcomers was sick.


             - Some were on crutches,

             - Some were talking to themselves,

             - Some could hardly breathe,

             - Some were drunk.      


         It looked like the emergency room of the city hospital.


             “How can we preach the gospel to these wrecks,

             Lord? They’re too sick!”


         A prophecy came forth in the meeting for the first time

         in ten years.....


             “Heal them!”


             “How can we heal them, Lord?” said the Christ-

             ians, “we’re too sick ourselves!”


         Then an old man with Parkinson’s disease who had been

         going to that church for years stood up, his body

         shaking so violently it was a wonder it didn’t fly

         apart, and he prayed,


             “Lord, manifest your love to these friends who

             have come to us today.”


        Suddenly there was shouting in the back of the church.


             “Thank you, Lord! I can see!”


             “Thank you, Lord! I can walk again!”


             “Thank you for giving me back my mind!”


         When the service was over the little old man with

         Parkinson’s disease was still shaking, but there wasn’t

         a more joyful man in all the world than this trembling...

         servant of God.


         As the weeks passed more and more sick people kept

         pouring into that place and found healing... and many

         of those who found healing opened their hearts to the

         healer and entered the kingdom of God -- and the little

         old man with Parkinson’s disease kept right on shaking.


         You could say that the platform from which the gospel

         of Jesus Christ is proclaimed with power is the plat-

         form of healing. There has to be some evidence that

         the river of mercy which started flowing on this

         earth at Calvary is still flowing. The call to proclaim

         the gospel is always a call also to heal. We’ve

         been ordained to a healing ministry just as surely as

         we’ve been sent to preach that gospel....but we tend

         to hold a shallow view of what this ministry involves

         and what it costs.


         We look at the successful American physician with his

         status in the world, his power to make things happen

         for people.....


            “We’ll operate day after tomorrow at 8:OO”.....


         his fabulous income. Or, perhaps we can look at men

         and women who have notable healing ministries and how

         the crowds are always waiting at the door of the

         auditorium hours before the meeting begins. And then

         we look at ourselves....bogged down with problems.


            -  Problems in our circumstances,

            -  Problems in our relationships,

            -  Problems in our bodies, and even in our heads.


         We may look normal enough on the outside, but inside

         we’re so weighed down we can’t even swim to the top of

         our own mess much less help anyone else’s mess.

         How can I even begin to think about exercising a ministry

         of healing and help for others until I get this pain

         out of my own life? And so we wallow in our unhappiness

         and dream about the things we would like to do if

         ever this load is lifted from us enough to be able to

         help someone else.


         But a valid ministry of healing in the name of Jesus

         bears no similarity whatsoever to the career of a

         successful surgeon or that of a celebrated healing

         evangelist. The model we have to look at is Jesus....

         and when we look at Jesus what do we see?


            And he came to Nazareth, where he had been

            brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as

            his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he

            stood up to read; and there was given to him

            the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened

            the book and found the place where it was



           “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

            because he has anointed me to preach

            good news to the poor.

            He has sent me to proclaim release to

            the captives

            and recovering of sight to the blind,

            to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

            to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”


             And he closed the book, and gave it back to

             the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of

             all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And

             he began to say to them, “Today this scripture

             has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And all

             spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious

             words which proceeded out of his mouth; and

             they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” And

             he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to

             me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself;’....       

                                  Luke 4:16-23a


         That’s how his ministry began....and this is how it



             And those who passed by derided him, wagging

             their heads and saying, “You who would destroy

             the temple and build it in three days, save

             yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down

             from the cross.” So also the chief priests,

             with the scribes and elders, mocked him,

             saying, “He saved others; he cannot save him-

             self. He is the King of Israel; let him come

             down now from the cross, and we will believe

             in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him

             now, if he desires him; for he said, ‘I am the

             Son of God.'” Matthew 27:39-43


         ....despised and rejected of men. A man of sorrows and

         acquainted with grief. Who, when he got to the real

         moment of healing for the world....broke the curse       

         through his own agony and death, received no thanks or

         applause. All the world could say was,


             “Physician, heal yourself!”


         But it was this apparent defeat and all the pain and

         loneliness and disgrace that went with it which opened

         the healing fountain for us and for the world.


         The fact that we’re burdened with problems hurting in

         our own souls will never hinder us from healing others

         in the name of Jesus. In fact, these wounds within us

         may be just what we need to be effective.


             But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,

             to show that the transcendent power belongs to

             God and not to us. We are afflicted in every

             way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not

             driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken;

             struck down, but not destroyed; always

             carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so

             that the life of Jesus may also be manifested

             in our bodies. For while we live we are always

             being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so

             that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our

             mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but

             life in you.                 II Corinthians 4:7-12


         Of course the sin in our lives that God has put his

         finger on has to go.


           - The grudges we’ve been holding,

           - The fantasies of self-pity or lust or revenge,

           - The covetousness which keeps perverting us

                         into takers instead of givers,


             ....these things have to go.


         But the wounds,

               the weakness,

               the afflictions,

               the pain, the things we have thought of as signs of

         defeat, these can be turned into the very means by which

         life flows to others.


             For while we live we are always being given up

             to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of

             Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So

             death is at work in us, but life in you.


         Each of us, individually and all of us as a body have

         been called to a healing ministry. And the basis of

         our healing power is the cross... the place where God

         the Son was hung up to die in weakness,





         Every healing Jesus ever performed came from that cross.

         And every healing that has ever taken place since, in

         his name, comes from that cross.


         But we have to touch that cross of Jesus not just with

         our intellect. We have to touch it with our life. And

         the place where our life touches the cross of Jesus is

         the place where we are weak,

                       where we hurt.


           -   These weak spots in our lives,


           -   These afflictions, hardships, and calamities,


           -   These things that keep us low,


                  ...are the doorway to blazing communion with

                     the crucified God.


             And to keep me from being too elated by the

             abundance of revelations, a thorn was given

             me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to

             harass me, to keep me from being too elated.

             Three times I besought the Lord about this,

             that it should leave me; but he said to me,

             “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power

             is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the

             more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the

             power of Christ may rest upon me. For the

             sake of Christ, then, I am content with weak-

             nesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and

             calamities; for when I am weak, then I am

             strong.                II Corinthians 12:7-10


         This weakness in my life drives me to the Master, and in

         a mystery I come forth with healing life for others. This

         pain in my soul (or in my body) brings me down into

         fellowship with the afflicted of this earth and helps me

         to be the living link between their pain and the Lamb

         who bears away their sickness and sin.


         Until this sorrow came I was comfortable and blind. But

         now I have some idea of the sorrow that afflicts this

         race. The sorrow in my own heart drives me to God for

         comfort and in a mystery gives me power to comfort other

         hearts... to heal them through the wounds and sorrows of

         Calvary which have now become part of my own life. This

         frustration that once drove me out of my mind has now

         become the death of Jesus dwelling in my mortal flesh...

         the very power of Calvary by which I can set others free.


         Until the Lord comes back every one of us who follows

         Jesus will have a wounded thigh like Jacob,

                                a thorn in the flesh like Paul ---

         something that limits us,

                  holds us down,

                  causes pain,

                  keeps us weak.


         And we have a choice:


               -   We can spend our lives wallowing in this thing,

                   using it as the excuse for wrapping the gifts

                   God has given us in a napkin and doing nothing

                   with them. 


               -   We can take this thing which keeps us nailed

                   to the cross of Jesus and make it the doorway

                   to daily fellowship with our Lord and the

                   fountainhead of healing for the sick ones

                   around us.


         Satan will say to the wounded servants of the Lamb what

         he said to the Master through those sneering voices on

         Good Friday,


               “Physician, heal yourself!”


         But the Lord says,


             “My grace is sufficient for you. My power is

             made perfect in weakness. Weak as you are I

             send you forth in my name to heal the sick and

             raise the dead and bring the lost back to the

             Father’s house.”