Words are powerful and with the power of God behind them our words can do wonderful things.
Let us understand the power and limits of power to our words.
We will look at the healing of a widow's only son and examine the power behind Jesus' healing words.
The healing faith fable
Have you ever been to one of those churches that focuses on miracles and healings? Miracles and healings are wonderful when they come from God, but a false prophet can also perform miracles (Deuteronomy 13:1-5; Revelation 19:20). A way to tell the difference is by the teaching. Is it false and heretical cult-like teaching or true and orthodox Christianity? In some churches people who are in wheelchairs or suffer from uncured diseases have been told that they lack faith to be healed. Is that true or just another fiction from unlearned preachers? In Luke 7:11-17 Jesus healed a person who was dead and in a coffin. What faith can a dead person exhibit? He was not even conscious and therefore unable to even ask to be healed. The only criterion mentioned was Jesus’ compassion on a widow.
A compassionate healing
Imagine the loneliness of a woman who has lost her husband. Then imagine that same woman losing her only child. The pain is indescribable. The real desolation would be deep and abiding. Human community is not always compassionate, but the large crowd who followed the funeral procession of the widow of Naïn (Luke 7:11-17) seems to have wanted to support her in her devastating loss. The village is Nein in Israel today, a Muslim town, with a Christian church built on the possible site of her house. The account does not emphasize any great faith she or her son may have had, but the compassion of Christ for a widow. The Greek word comes to us in medicine as splanchnic, meaning visceral or intestinal. It implies here a kind of sympathy that is physically felt deep within the bowels.
The power of words
In Luke 7:11-17 Jesus spoke a few words and a widow’s dead son was brought back to life. Words are powerful. Negative words can destroy life just as readily as positive words can give life. Have you ever been around someone who just sucked the life out of you with their words? I have, and it’s not pleasant. I just want to avoid them or love them at a distance. On the other hand have you ever been around someone who just gave you energy, enthusiasm and excitement for life? My grandmother was such a person and I have met many individuals like that throughout life. They are wonderful blessings to have around. We may not all have the wonderful gifts of healing like Jesus did, but we can all communicate. Let us spread healing words wherever we go.
Miracles and Magic
My eye doctor recently told me that a retinal occlusion which I had about a year ago was completely clear. He said that I should thank God because such things do not normally heal completely. I had been anointed with oil and prayed for by a fellow pastor. Since ancient times miracles of manipulating nature, healing from sickness, death and evil forces are recorded. Some thought that it was the words alone that caused the miracles and developed systems of magical incantations sometimes as scams, sometimes relying on self-seeking occult powers. Luke 7:11-17 tells of Jesus reviving a widow’s dead son, but there was more going on than words of a mere incantation. There was divine authority behind the words. Church liturgy can also be empty wishful words of incantation and magic unless we recognize God’s power behind it.
Healing where we can
Not everyone has the gift of healing, especially like Jesus did. In Luke 7:11-17 he raised a widow’s son from the dead. As much as we would all love to do the same, even in those churches that have a large focus on miracles, such things rarely occur. So what can we do then? We can all heal to some extent, even if not in such spectacular ways. Like Jesus we can notice the pain and suffering of others around us and we can care enough to have compassion. In a world where self interests are the fashion, we are to be different. We have many options to bring healing to a sick world, from encouraging words to personal investment of time and money. While most people just don’t give a damn about the poor and suffering, we must.
Cracks in welfare systems
Welfare in ancient Israel was a system that used private, family and state resources. The welfare laws of Israel provided fairness in inheritance and preserved family unity. Like our modern systems, they could not possibly cover every scenario and so like today, some people fell through the cracks. One such case seems to be the widow who was about to bury her only son (Luke 7:11-17). With her husband gone and her only son deceased, she possibly faced financial ruin, without the welfare provided in a family support structure. The individual responsibility of not harvesting the corners of fields so that the poor may glean and the national responsibility of paying a third year tithe for the poor may not have solved her problem. Regardless, Christ sets us the example of our responsibility towards those who suffer: heartfelt compassion.
We may not have the power that Jesus had, but we do have power in our words. Let us use that power for good.