John 5:19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
This would appear to be clear enough. “…The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do…” But then in the following verses we see a startling contrast.
20 “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 “that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. …25 “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 “and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.
We see from the above that the Father shows the Son ALL He does. The Father has given the Son authority even to raise the dead and also to pass judgment. The Father has given the Son to have life in himself. We see a dynamic tension here between the Son as one who can do nothing of himself on the one hand, and the one who has been given great authority by his Father on the other. Then in verse 30 Jesus returns to the former theme.
…30 “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.
What does Jesus mean by “the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner?” It is clear that Jesus humbled and emptied himself and in human form became completely dependent upon the Father. In what way was this relationship worked out? For example, did the Father in some way actually show the Son what he was going to do that day when he sought Him in prayer every morning?
Although this is certainly possible, there are other scenarios we can very reasonably paint. We are interested in this question because our relationship with Jesus is in some ways parallel to that which he had with the Father.
John 14:10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.
John 10:30 I and the Father are one.”
By himself Jesus could do nothing. But the Father loved the Son and showed him all he did. Jesus was in the Father and the Father was in him. It was the Father, living in Jesus, who was doing His work. Jesus and the Father were one. Since Jesus and the Father were one, we see Jesus ministering so powerfully in the gospels. Sometimes he did specifically what the Father showed him, at other times he simply took action using the authority the Father had given him.
So what about the relationship between us and Jesus?
John 17:21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 23 I in them and you in me…
John 20:21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
Jesus now lives in us and ministers to others through us by His Spirit. If he gives us a “word of knowledge” we receive it and act upon it. If he does not, we can still take action using his authority and power which are in us through His Spirit—just as Jesus did in the gospels.
Jesus could minister with power because of His relationship with the Father; in the same way we hope to minister with power because of our relationship with Jesus. To the extent that we understand the outworking of Jesus’ relationship with his Father with regard to the miracles that he did, we may better understand how our relationship with Jesus may lead to greater manifestations of power in our ministry for the gospel.
It may be natural for a committed believer to want to be led by the Lord through the Holy Spirit in everything that he or she does. But is this something that is actually attainable or even the Lord’s will for us in this life? There are things in our daily lives for which we may not always need the Lord’s leading. For example, everyday we wake up at a certain time (often determined by for what time we set our alarm clock), get dressed, determine what to eat for breakfast, and go to work. These are activities that the Lord normally gives us authority and responsibility to take care of without his direct supervision and leading. The relevant question is: in what area should we simply handle things by ourselves with the wisdom the Lord has given us as human beings, and in what area should we seek His leading and be consciously dependent on Him? The line is not a fine one, and may be shifting slightly from day to day.
Nevertheless there must be some scriptural principles which can give us general guidelines. It is obvious that important decisions such as the choice of a spouse, job, ministry, home church, purchase of a house or car are best made after seeking the Lord’s guidance. Let us limit this discussion to the realm of the ministry of the supernatural, specifically to healing the sick. To what extent do we seek the Lord’s help or guidance in this type of ministry?
For Jesus, this kind of ministry did not begin until after he was baptized in the Holy Spirit at the Jordan River and after the forty days’ period of fasting and temptation. With this baptism came power and authority over demons and disease. Those who came to him with some degree of faith that he could heal them were healed. “Your faith has made you well,” said Jesus in Mark 5:34 to the woman who was healed of long-term bleeding after she touched the hem of his garment. To two blind men who wanted to see in Matthew 9:29, Jesus said, “According to your faith let it be to you.” Many if not most of the healing miracles in the synoptic gospels follow this pattern. The miracles were often apparently not the result of God’s specific will to heal, but of faith at work in people on earth. Sometimes it was the faith of the infirm who came to Jesus, sometimes an additional ingredient was added: the exercise of the authority to heal by the minister.
Acts 14:8 And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. 9 This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked.
We do not know whether or not it was specifically God’s will to heal this man or not. We do know that the miracle ultimately did not result in a mighty revival and multitudes of souls saved, but rather in Paul getting stoned, nearly to death. So was it actually God’s specific intention to heal this man, or was the miracle more a result of the faith of the lame man combined with Paul’s exercise of mountain-moving authority? In this instance, we can make a relatively strong argument that it was faith and not so much God’s will that produced the healing.
There are three types of healings we see in Scripture. At times, God chooses to exercise His sovereignty and decides categorically not to heal as in the instance of Paul’s thorn. Despite Paul’s faith, he was not healed. Conversely, there are times in which God decides to heal unconditionally and apart from anyone’s faith. In Luke 7, a dead man is brought back to life at his burial without his grieving mother or himself having faith for the miracle. These two instances demonstrate that God is sovereign, and at those times when He chooses to exercise His sovereignty, we ought to seek His leading and do or accept His will. But in between these two extreme ends of the spectrum, God can choose to stand at arm’s length, as it were, and allow us to exercise our faith for the healing miracle. This can be the faith of the sick person and/or the mountain-moving faith of the minister of healing. In this middle realm in between the extreme ends, God says to us: “do whatever your hand finds to do, for I am with you.” “According to your faith be it to you.”
In this middle realm, it is not so much a matter of God’s will as it is of exercising the authority over disease and demons He has already given as ministers of the gospel.
Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.
If God’s will is neutral with regard to this type of healing, then will the Lord necessarily show us anything specific when we seek His face early in the morning prior to setting out for ministry? The answer is maybe not. Perhaps that day He might have us minister to the sick by faith, exercising the authority that He has already given us over disease and demons. Certainly there are times when God wants us to walk by faith, not by what we have seen.
Luke 9:1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. …6 So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.
Luke 10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. …9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’ 17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
On the other hand, there will be times when, for example, through a word of knowledge, the Lord shows us what He want to do. At such times, we will certainly do what the Father has shown us.
Perhaps what Jesus meant was that he could only do what the Father had given him authority to do. He could only do in accordance with the authority that the Father had shown him. I see this principle at work in my own ministry. When I began the present form of our evangelistic healing ministry in 2000, it was by faith in God’s word and by His leading in a general sense. The occasion was a mission trip in March 2000 to North India to which I had been invited by Windows of Opportunity Director Brent Knapton. The final leg of this trip involved open-air mass Crusades where thousands came to hear the Word of God. I was the speaker at the Sunday afternoon meeting. Many had received Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit at the morning service led by Simon Haqq of New Delhi, and in the afternoon I purposed to teach them how to minister in the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of the gospel.
The last several verses of Mark 16 speak of the measure of authority over disease and demons that every believer who preaches the gospel has been given. Based on that, I told the assembled crowd that God willed to use them to lay hands on the sick to minister healing for soul-winning. I would first teach them and show them how to do it, and then afterwards would have them to lay hands on the infirm, and the Lord would do miracles through them. I proceeded to teach them the scriptural basis of healing, then came the moment of truth—the demonstration of healing before the crowd of thousands. For some reason, I chose to attempt a type of physical healing that is relatively “difficult.” As anyone in the healing ministry can tell you, it is “easier” to minister healing to someone with a temporary headache than to someone who has chronic problems with their eyesight. At that moment I felt very bold and announced to the crowd that those with impaired vision should come forward for healing ministry. To my knowledge, I had not received a word of knowledge from the Lord to do this, but I simply sensed great boldness and confidence.
Many with impaired eyesight came forward to the front. Then I instructed believers to come forward and lay hands on their eyes. I had them repeat after me. “In the name of Jesus, any spirits of blindness, leave! In the name of Jesus, eyes be opened!” Then I asked the people to check their eyesight, and those who had been healed to come forward to testify from the stage. After a moment, people began to approach the stage. One by one, they testified that their vision had been healed in the name of Jesus. One woman had not been able to read her Bible; all she saw was a thick black line across the page where the print was. But now she could read the print clearly. This is what Jesus showed me.
Because of what I saw the Lord do, I began to minister with more and more boldness, taking on greater and greater challenges for the sake of the gospel. At one open-air Crusade in Tamil Nadu, south India, I boldly proclaimed to the unbelievers and Hindus present that Jesus was the Son of the only true God, and that as proof, He could do miracles that their gods could not do. To demonstrate this, I asked the infirm to come forward for healing ministry. A young man with a severe heart defect appeared; he could only walk ten steps at a time before stopping to catch his breath. As an unknown believer laid hands on him at the front, God restored his heart. Up on the platform in front of thousands, he ran vigorously in place to demonstrate to the crowd that he had indeed been instantly healed in the name of Jesus. Quickly I said to the crowd, “See? My God is the true God! Believe on Him tonight, and you shall be saved!”
This is what I have seen Jesus do. Yes, I freely acknowledge that I can do nothing of myself. But Jesus has given me (as well as everyone who is called to preach the gospel) a measure of authority to heal the sick as confirmation of the gospel. I purposely exercise this authority by faith, and the Lord shows me miracles. Because of this, I grow in faith and boldness, and will take on greater challenges for the gospel. Because of what I have seen Jesus do in our overseas Crusades and in African-American and Hispanic churches stateside, I am now planning to hold open-air evangelistic healing services in Black and Hispanic communities in the city of Houston where I live. This is yet a greater challenge, for it is well-known that God does miracles on the mission field, but not here in North America.
Before I minister on a given day, the Lord does not show me what he will do that day as I seek Him in prayer. That does not mean I will refuse to budge. Based on His word and my calling, I will go forth to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and cast out demons with the authority the Word of God says I have. That day I will see Him do certain miracles. Based on that I am encouraged to attempt still greater things for the sake of winning souls on the next occasion. Perhaps we do not need to expect that someday the Lord will show us every detail of what we are to do before we do it. Perhaps it would be better to use by faith what we already have according to God’s word, and then to watch what He does. In this way He can direct and lead us for future occasions of ministry.
This is not to say that we do not seek the Lord or wait on Him. But perhaps we ought not to have excessive hope that He will show us everything in advance. There is room for moving by faith in the written Word. There ought to be a healthy balance between the truth and the Spirit, or the logos and the rhema. I would believe that this may be how Jesus moved and ministered from day to day, except that unlike us he had been given all authority. And with that authority the learning curve was likely very rapid. He starting out rebuking demons and fevers (Luke 4:31-39), and quickly advanced to raising the dead (Luke 7:11-17). Since he became like us (except for sin, Hebrews 4:15), even having to learn obedience and perfection (Hebrews 5:8-9), did he not also have to learn how to grow in his ministry of healing and deliverance?