So, how did Jesus equip the saints to be ministers and then to minister?
Jesus made it a priority to teach His followers to do the things He did. Think about Jesus’ ministry of healing. Healing was important to Jesus. He healed almost everywhere that He went. He healed in the marketplace. He healed in the synagogue. He healed on the Sabbath. He healed Gentiles. When large crowds came He healed them all. Jesus saw healing as an important part of His work in the earth.
Jesus not only practiced healing, but also commanded His followers to heal. In Luke 9 He sent out the 12 and commanded them to heal the sick. In Luke 10 He sent out the 70 and again commanded them to heal. Notice that this was a command. If they had gone out and seen thousands of people saved but had not healed the sick, they would have been disobedient. Jesus did not view healing as His work alone. He repeatedly commanded His disciples to heal the sick.
Jesus promised the power to heal to all who followed Him. Mark 16: 17-18 says, “These signs will accompany those who believe. They will place their hands on sick people and they will get well.” In John 14:12, one of my all-time favourite verses, Jesus said, “Those who believe in Me will do the works (healings and miracles) I have done.”
Jesus healed. He commanded His followers to heal. He promised that all who follow Him would have power to heal. Then He commanded the apostles to teach His Church to heal.
The last instructions Jesus gave His Church before ascending into heaven is often call The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Most Christians consider The Great Commission to be of supreme importance, but only a few have taken the time to understand what it says.
In The Great Commission, Jesus commanded His followers to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” He then adds, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” The Living Bible translates that last phrase this way, “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.”
So The Great Commission is not just a command to evangelize the world. It includes the instruction to teach our new converts. Specifically we are to teach our converts to do the same things Jesus commanded the original disciples to do.
Jesus gave His followers many commands but one of His most frequent commands given every time He sent them out was, “Heal the sick.” So, if The Great Commission tells us to instruct our converts to do the same things Jesus commanded His disciples to do, we are not obeying The Great Commission unless we are teaching His followers today to heal the sick!
This is what we see in the book of Acts. At first just the apostles healed. They modeled healing ministry for the Church. Acts 2:43 says, “Many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.” But the apostles were not content to be the only ones healing, so they prayed for healings to increase in the Church. Acts 4:30 says, “Lord, stretch out Your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders.”
The apostles spent a lot of time teaching the people (Acts 4:2). What were they teaching? I believe part of their curriculum was “Healing the Sick 101.”
How do we know this? Because as we read through the book of Acts, you discover that the Church members learned to heal the sick. Acts 6 records that Stephen did great wonders and miraculous signs. Acts 8 says that Philip, who had served in the Jerusalem church by waiting on tables, went out and performed miraculous signs, “With shrieks evil spirits came out of many, and may paralytics and cripples were healed.”
The result was a healing Church. 1 Corinthians 12 describes what happened when the Early Church met together. It says, “To one is given a Word of Knowledge … to another faith … to another gifts of healings … to another working of miracles.” For the first Christians, this was the normal experience of church life. When they come together each day, they expected to see healing and miracles.
Jesus wants all of us to do what He did. Followers of Jesus were called Christians because they were a bunch of people who walked around doing the same things as Jesus. This is what we are suppose to do also, and we fulfill our call when we do it.