I do want to [make you clean]. Be clean!
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses words to teach us how we are supposed to live our lives so that love might abound. But sometimes words are not enough. Sometimes actions speak louder than words. In this scripture that immediately follows, Jesus shows how words can unleash miracles that can teach the heart.
When Jesus finishes his Sermon on the Mount he is approached by a man with a dreaded skin disease. The man has received a word of prophetic knowledge from God that Jesus could heal him, a life-giving ray of hope in the midst of the darkness of incurable disease and isolation. The sick man passes on this prophetic word to Jesus. He doesn’t ask Jesus for anything, he simply states a fact – “Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean.” He reveals the truth that God has revealed to him and affirms the spiritual authority of Jesus.
Jesus stops and listens to the man. He doesn’t judge him. He responds to the man’s revelation by affirming that he wants the man to be healed and that he can make it happen. Then he uses two words – “Be clean” – to release God’s healing power in the sick man’s body. A miracle, an act that defies physical explanation takes place. All in a minute or two. All through the power of words.
Just like Moses, Jesus has been sent on a great adventure by God to lead his people to a promised land called the Kingdom of God. Just like adventurers who navigate the Amazon or climb Mount Everest, spiritual leaders like Moses and Jesus need a lot of equipment.
Some of their equipment is words; shimmering words that inspire, guide, and illuminate. Another important piece of equipment that God gives them is demonstrations of supernatural power, the kind of power that is freely available in the Kingdom of God. So when God asks Moses to lead his people to freedom and Moses says that he doesn’t think his equipment (his words) will be sufficient to accomplish the task at hand, God convinces Moses with a miracle:
“But suppose the Israelites do not believe me and will not listen to what I say. What shall I do if they say that you did not appear to me? The LORD spoke to Moses again, ‘Put your hand inside your robe.’ Moses obeyed; and when he took his hand out, it was diseased, covered with white spots, like snow. Then the LORD said, ‘Put your hand inside your robe again.’ He did so, and when he took it out this time, it was healthy, just like the rest of his body. The LORD said, ‘If they will not believe you or be convinced by the first miracle, then this one will convince them.’(Exodus 4:1,6-8)
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So is a healing, or parting the Red Sea, or a pillar of fire, or water turning to blood, or any of the other miracles God performed through Moses in the Book of Exodus.
Throughout the Bible God heals using divine intervention:
King Jeroboam said to the prophet, “Please pray for me to the Lord your God, and ask him to heal my arm!” The prophet prayed to the Lord, and the king’s arm was healed. (I Kings 13:6)
So Naaman went down to the Jordan, dipped himself in it seven times, as Elisha had instructed, and he was completely cured. His flesh became firm and healthy like that of a child. (2 Kings 5:14)
I cried to you for help, O Lord my God and you healed me; you kept me from the grave. I was on my way to the depths below, but you restored my life. (Psalm 30:2-3)
Praise the Lord, my soul, and do not forget how kind he is. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He keeps me from the grave and blesses me with love and mercy. (Psalm 103:2-4)
The Bible also affirms this power of words to heal:
Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal. (Proverbs 12:18)
Kind words are like honey—sweet to the taste and good for your health. (Proverbs 16:24)
No medicine or ointment cured them. They were restored to health by your word, O Lord, the word which heals all humanity. (Wisdom of Solomon 16:12).
Some Christians believe that supernatural healing and miracles don’t happen in today’s world. I have received divine healing and witnessed miracles so I disagree on the basis of my own experience. But whether or not you believe in the miraculous you have to admit it would get your attention if it actually happened to you or someone you love.
So God speaks to me through this scripture by reminding me that words are very powerful. Words can teach, preach, and heal. Words should be selected and used with care. Words are indeed a blessing through which God’s light and truth and miraculous supernatural power can shine. But while a word to the wise should be sufficient, a healing is worth a thousand words.
What does this scripture say to you?