IV. MIRACLES OF HEALING UNSOLICITED.
By George MacDonald
from THE MIRACLES OF OUR LORD
Used with the permission of Johannesen Printing & Publishing.
IN my last chapter I took the healing of Simon's wife's mother
as a type of all such miracles, viewed from the consciousness of the person
healed. In the multitude of cases-for it must not be forgotten that there
was a multitude of which we have no individual record-the experience must
have been very similar. The evil thing, the antagonist of their life, departed;
they knew in themselves that they were healed; they beheld before them
the face and form whence the healing power had gone forth, and they believed
in the man. What they believed about him, farther than that he had healed
them and was good, I cannot pretend to say. Some said he was one thing,
some another, but they believed in the man himself. They felt henceforth
the strongest of ties binding his life to their life. He was now the central
thought of their being. Their minds lay open to all his influences, operating
in time and by holy gradations. The well of life was henceforth to them
an unsealed fountain, and endless currents of essential life began to flow
from it through their existence. High love urging gratitude awoke the conscience
to intenser life; and the healed began to recoil from evil deeds and vile
thoughts as jarring with the new friendship. Mere acquaintance with a good
man is a powerful antidote to evil; but the knowledge of such a man, as
those healed by him knew him, was the mightiest of divine influences.
In these miracles of healing our Lord must have laid one of the largest
of the foundation-stones of his church. The healed knew him henceforth,
not by comprehension, but with their whole being. Their very life acknowledged
him. They returned to their homes to recall and love afresh. I wonder what
their talk about him was like. What an insight it would give into our common
nature, to know how these men and women thought and spoke concerning him!
But the time soon arrived when they had to be public martyrs-that is, witnesses
to what they knew, come of it what might. After our Lord's departure came
the necessity for those who loved him to gather together, thus bearing
their testimony at once. Next to his immediate disciples, those whom he
had cured must have been the very heart of the young church. Imagine the
living strength of such a heart-personal love to the personal helper the
very core of it. The church had begun with the first gush of affection
in the heart of the mother Mary, and now "great was the company of those
that published" the good news to the world. The works of the Father had
drawn the hearts of the children, and they spake of the Elder Brother who
had brought those works to their doors. The thoughtful remembrances of
those who had heard him speak; the grateful convictions of those whom he
had healed; the tender memories of those whom he had taken in his arms
and blessed-these were the fine fibrous multitudinous roots which were
to the church existence, growth, and continuance, for these were they which
sucked in the dews and rains of that descending Spirit which was the life
of the tree. Individual life is the life of the church.
But one may say: Why then did he not cure all the sick in Judæa?
Simply because all were not ready to be cured. Many would not have believed
in him if he had cured them. Their illness had not yet wrought its work,
had not yet ripened them to the possibility of faith; his cure would have
left them deeper in evil than before. "He did not many mighty works there
because of their unbelief." God will cure a man, will give him a fresh
start of health and hope, and the man will be the better for it, even without
having yet learned to thank him; but to behold the healer and acknowledge
the outstretched hand of help, yet not to believe in the healer, is a terrible
thing for the man; and I think the Lord kept his personal healing for such
as it would bring at once into some relation of heart and will with himself;
whence arose his frequent demand of faith-a demand apparently always responded
to: at the word, the flickering belief, the smoking flax, burst into a
flame. Evil, that is, physical evil, is a moral good-a mighty means to
a lofty end. Pain is an evil; but a good as well, which it would be a great
injury to take from the man before it had wrought its end. Then it becomes
all evil, and must pass.
I now proceed to a group of individual cases in which, as far as we
can judge from the narratives, our Lord gave the gift of restoration unsolicited.
There are other instances of the same, but they fall into other groups,
gathered because of other features...
...The next miracle-recorded by St Luke alone-is the cure of the man
with the dropsy, wrought also upon the Sabbath, but in the house of one
of the chief of the Pharisees. Thither our Lord had gone to an entertainment,
apparently large, for the following parable is spoken "to those which were
bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms."1 Hence the
possibility at least is suggested, that the man was one of the guests.
No doubt their houses were more accessible than ours, and it was not difficult
for one uninvited to make his way in, especially upon occasion of such
a gathering. But I think the word translated before him means opposite
to him at the table; and that the man was not too ill to appear as a guest.
The "took him and healed him and let him go," of our translation, is against
the notion rather, but merely from its indefiniteness being capable of
meaning that he sent him away; but such is not the meaning of the original.
That merely implies that he took him, went to him and laid his hands upon
him, thus connecting the cure with
1 Not rooms, but reclining places at the table.
himself, and then released him, set him free, took his
hands off him, turning at once to the other guests and justifying himself
by appealing to their own righteous conduct towards the ass and the ox.
I think the man remained reclining at the table, to enjoy the appetite
of health at a good meal; if, indeed, the gladness of the relieved breath,
the sense of lightness and strength, the consciousness of a restored obedience
of body, not to speak of the presence of him who had cured him, did not
make him too happy to care about his dinner.