Here is the Gospel lectionary reading for today....
Luke 4:38-44Two things strike me in this passage. The first is that here, and in many other passages in the Gospels, we see Jesus as a miracle worker. This is so much a part of the record that even scholars who doubt some of the historical accuracy of the New Testament, admit that Jesus must have performed miracles of some kind. There is no accounting for the number and diversity of these miracle stories about Jesus in any other way.
After leaving the synagogue he entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them. As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them. Demons also came out of many, shouting, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah. At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, ‘I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.’ So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea.
C. S. Lewis comments on the healing performed by Jesus in the Gospels in this way, in his book, Miracles....
The miracles of Healing, to which I turn next, are now in a
peculiar position. Men are ready to admit that many of them happened, but are inclined to deny that they were miraculous. The symptoms of very many diseases can be aped by hysteria, and hysteria can often be cured by ‘suggestion’. It could, no doubt, be argued that such suggestion is a spiritual power, and therefore (if you
like) a supernatural power, and that all instances of ‘faith healing’ are therefore miracles. But in our terminology they would be miraculous only in the same sense in which every instance of human reason is miraculous: and what we are now looking for is miracles other than that. My own view is that it would be unreasonable to ask a person
who has not yet embraced Christianity in its entirety to allow that all the healings mentioned in the Gospels were miracles—that is, that they go beyond the possibilities of human ‘suggestions’. It is for the doctors to decide as regards each particular case—supposing that the narratives are sufficiently detailed to allow even probable diagnosis. We have here a good example to what was said in an earlier chapter. So far from belief in miracles depending upon ignorance of natural law, we are here finding for ourselves that ignorance of law makes miracle unascertainable.
Without deciding in detail which of the healings must (apart from acceptance of the Christian faith) be regarded as miraculous, we can however indicate the kind of miracle involved. Its character can easily be obscured by the somewhat magical view which many people still take of ordinary and medical healing. There is a sense in which noIf Jesus did indeed perform miracles, then that begs the question: "Where did the power come from?"
doctor ever heals. The doctors themselves would be the first to admit this. The magic is not in the medicine but in the patient’s body—in the vis medicatrix naturae, the recuperative or self-corrective energy of Nature. What the treatment does is to simulate Natural functions or to
remove what hinders them. We speak for convenience of the doctor, or the dressing, healing a cut. But in another sense every cut heals itself: no cut can be healed in a corpse. That same mysterious force which we call gravitational when it steers the planets and biochemical
when it heals a live body, is the efficient cause of all recoveries. And that energy proceeds from God in the first instance. All who are cured are cured by Him, not merely in the sense that His providence provides them with medical assistance and wholesome environments, but also in the sense that their very tissues are repaired by the far-descended energy which, flowing from Him, energises the whole system of Nature. But once He did it visibly to the
sick in Palestine, a Man meeting with men. What in its general operations we refer to laws of Nature or once referred to Apollo or Aesculapius thus reveals itself. The Power that always was behind all healings puts on a face and hands. Hence, of course, the apparent chanciness of the miracles. It is idle to complain that He heals those whom He happens to meet, not those whom He doesn’t. To be a man means to be in one place and not in another. The world which would not know Him as present everywhere was saved by His becoming local.
I think an answer is suggested in a minute and mysterious part of this text that might easily be overlooked. "At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place." Why did Jesus do this? What did he do in that deserted place? Mark spells out the answer in the parallel text to Luke in Mark's Gospel:
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:35)I believe that Jesus' power to perform miracles came from God. Moreover, we can find a similar power for living from spending time alone with God every day. In Mere Christianity, Lewis says:
If you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayer and religious reading and church-going are necessary parts of the Christian life.When towards the end of his life Lewis was interviewed by Sherwood Wirt of Decision magazine, he was asked, “What is your view of the daily discipline of the Christian life – the need for taking time to be alone with God?” Lewis responded by citing Matthew 6:5-6....
We have our New Testament regimental orders upon the subject. I would take it for granted that everyone who becomes a Christian would undertake this practice. It is enjoined upon us by our Lord; and since they are His commands, I believe in following them. It is always just possible that Jesus Christ meant what He said when He told us to seek the secret place and close the door.