People brought to [Jesus] all who were ill with various diseases . . . and he healed them.
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, the list
of diseases and impairments that He
healed is diverse. Leprosy, paralysis,
fever, and unexplained bleeding (see
Matthew 8) were cured. Blindness (Matt.
9:27–29), deafness (Mark 7:31–35),
and abnormal swelling (Luke 14:1–4),
and more were all included in the work
done by the Great Physician. When
those we love are sick and suffering,
we might wish we could find Jesus of
Nazareth still walking the earth. But
James 5 reminds us that we will always
have recourse to the One who forgives
all our sins and heals all our diseases
(see Ps. 103:3).
In today’s passage, James gives
instruction for the church member who
is seriously ill, exhorting the elders of
the church to intercede for the sick
person. Prayer for the sick is first of all
the priority of church leaders, but James
quickly follows this with a general call to
“pray for each other” (v. 16).
In some ways, God’s promise in this
passage is mysterious. In answer to
our intercession for a suffering fellow
Christian, He promises to “make the
sick person well,” to “raise them up,”
and to forgive them (v. 15). It is difficult
to tell from these words whether we
ought to expect physical or spiritual
healing. Many scholars believe that
the ambiguity is deliberate. If we are
tempted to overlook physical healing
in our intercession, James gives us
encouragement to ask God for bodily
healing. If we are tempted to skip over
spiritual healing, James reminds us of
the precious gift of spiritual wellness.
Even if we never see physical healing
granted to our loved ones in this life,
we will certainly rejoice in it in heaven.
As commentator Daniel Doriani
explains, “The Lord will heal all his
people sooner or later.” The Great
Physician will one day ensure all His
people are whole and well.
Apply the Word
James commends “the prayer offered in faith” (v. 15). Christian faith is placed in Christ alone. Our prayers of faith do not depend on our boldness but on Christ’s goodness, not on the hope for a certain result but on the God who does all things well. Like the paralytic’s friends (Matt. 9:1–7), humbly bring your loved ones to Jesus.
Pray with Us
Remember Bruce Everhart, vice president of Donor Development and Channel Strategy, during your prayer time today. Pray God guides him, giving him the strategy and grace needed to plan donor outreaches and oversee fundraising.