Then He got up and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her. And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately got up and waited on them. While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them. (Luke 4:38–40)
Six features characterized Jesus' healing ministry and set it apart from those of the fake “faith healers,” who have paraded themselves before the church with their deceptive and abusive false promises.
First, Jesus healed with a word, as He did in the case of the centurion’s servant (Matt. 8:5–13) or, as here with Peter’s mother-in-law, a touch (cf. Mark 3:10; 5:25–34).
Second, Jesus healed instantly. There were no progressive healings; the people He cured did not gradually get better. As noted above, Peter’s mother-in-law’s symptoms vanished at once, and she was fully restored to health. Similarly, the centurion’s servant “was healed that very moment” (Matt. 8:13); the woman with the hemorrhage was healed “immediately” (Mark 5:29); the ten lepers were cleansed of their disease as soon as they left to show themselves to the priests (Luke 17:14); after Jesus “stretched out His hand and touched [another leper]. . .immediately the leprosy left him” (Luke 5:13); when Jesus commanded the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda, “‘Get up, pick up your pallet and walk,’ immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk” (John 5:8–9). Some offer the Lord’s healing of the blind man in Bethsaida (Mark 8:22–25) as an example of a progressive healing. But the man’s statement, “I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around” (v. 24) merely defined his preexisting condition of blindness. The actual healing was instantaneous (v. 25). Had Jesus’ healings not been instantaneous, they would not have demonstrated His supernatural power over disease. His critics could have claimed that the people were better as a result of natural processes.
Third, Jesus healed totally. Peter’s mother-in-law was cured of all her symptoms and went at once from being bedridden to serving a meal. When Jesus healed a man “covered with leprosy” (Luke 5:12), “the leprosy left him” (v. 13). It was the same with all of Jesus’ healings; “the blind receive[d] sight and the lame walk[ed], the lepers [were] cleansed and the deaf hear[d]” (Matt. 11:5).
Fourth, as verse 40 notes, Jesus healed everyone. He did not leave behind long lines of disappointed, distraught people who were not healed, like modern faith healers do. Matthew 4:24 says that “the news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them.” According to Matthew 12:15, “Many followed Him, and He healed them all,” while Luke 6:19 notes that “all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all.” So widespread was Jesus’ healing that He, in effect, banished disease from Israel during the three years of His ministry.
Fifth, Jesus healed organic disease. He did not heal vague, ambiguous, invisible ailments such as lower back pain, heart palpitations, or headaches. On the contrary, He restored full mobility to paralyzed limbs, full sight to blind eyes, full hearing to deaf ears, and fully cleansed leprous skin. Jesus healed “every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people” (Matt. 4:23; cf. 9:35). All of Jesus’ healings were undeniable, miraculous signs, as even His most bitter enemies admitted (John 11:47).
Finally, Jesus raised the dead—not those who were in a temporary coma, or whose vital signs fluctuated during surgery, but a young man in his casket on his way to the graveyard (Luke 7:11–15), a young girl whose death was apparent to all (Mark 5:22–24, 35–43), and a man who had been dead for four days (John 11:14–44).
Unlike modern faith healers, Jesus performed His healings in public before huge crowds in various locations—not in the carefully orchestrated and highly controlled surroundings of modern healing venues or television studios. Nor were His healings contingent on the faith of the one being healed; most of those He healed were unbelievers, and hence unable to make a “positive confession” and claim their healing. So unprecedented was Christ’s healing ministry that people exclaimed, “We have never seen anything like this” (Mark 2:12; cf. John 9:32).
While the sun was setting, signifying the end of the Sabbath and its restrictions on travel and work, all (Mark 1:33 notes that “the whole city had gathered at the door”) those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Jesus. Word travelled fast and when the Sabbath ended, people could do what they were not permitted to do during the Sabbath—bring their needy friends and family to the house in hope of healing. They were not disappointed. In keeping with His compassion and power to heal anyone of any disease or condition, He was laying His hands on each one of them and was healing them. No one was excluded. The display of healing on that one day may have exceeded all the recorded healings in the entire Old Testament, and Jesus did such things over the three years of His ministry.