Healing Miracles

Jesus of Nazareth HW 7
Paul Fischer
Healing Miracles

Perhaps the most powerful, and undoubtedly the most prevalent, healing miracles show that a religious leader has a connection to an inner life force, or is able to channel the power of God himself. In Mark 5:23-43, Jesus raises a girl  from the dead, and on the way a woman with a severe hemorrhage is healed just by touching him in the street.

Jesus’ ability to heal even without intentionally meaning to suggests that he was overflowing with some sort of divine healing power, which complemented his mastery of demons. Healing miracles make up the vast majority of miracles in the New Testament and are one of the foundations of Christians’ claim to Christ’s titles and fame.
These inexplicable occasions of divine interference are by no means limited to Jesus Christ; as one of the most powerful forms of miracle pagans, Christians, and Jewish alike claimed the ability to heal the sick as one of the greatest powers of their religious leaders even today. Apollonius and other pagan healers such as Hanini and Honi performed healing miracles of faith as well. However, without a sense of institutional religious tradition, these other miracle workers didn’t see their work as a part of a greater work, as Jesus saw himself as a diety-like figure, or at least believed he was among a stream of prophets upholding the grace of God through astonishing miracles.
Healing miracles are either active, passive, or somewhere in between the two. An active healing implies that the healer actually took a sick or dying person and made them better. Passive healers, like Apollonius, only can tell when someone is living who everyone else thought was dead. While there are some occasions of Jesus healing passively, the mere multitudes of active healings that are claimed in the gospel is overwhelming. Mark 5:21-43, 7:31-37, and 8:22-26 are all examples of active healing. In these stories, Jesus heals a legitimately sick person through divine power or magic. In Mark 8:23, Jesus spits on a blind man’s eyes, and touches him in order to bring his sight back. Ritualism was a vital part of his healing process, according to the gospels. Whether it is an authentic tradition or not, ritual became one of the most important parts about Christianity by the time Emperor Constantine converted in the mid-fourth century AD.
Exorcisms aren’t nearly as prevalent as healing miracles in the New Testament, though there are several instances of Jesus driving demons from the people. In Mark 5:1-20, Jesus is actually depicted as incurring the wrath of his followers by driving demons into the soul of two thousand swine, and driving them off the edge of a cliff.
In the Antiquities 8.2.5, Josephus recounts the story of Eleazar, an exorcist from the time  of Solomon with significantly more ritualism than later Jews. Interestingly, and in contrast to the stories in the bible, the exorcism is described as being watched by important people (Vespasian and Josephus, among others) almost as  entertainment. It also describes the use of potions and rituals, both of which would liven the exorcism for an audience; this brings up the question of whether Jesus was not as influential as these other miracle workers or what reason he had for staying relatively local in his work. Without knowing more about what Jesus wanted and sought out, it isn’t possible to say why he didn’t work with more important leaders.

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