SHOULD WE STILL LAY ON OF HANDS,
WHEN WE PRAY FOR ANOTHER’S HEALING?
"...came down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him... came a leper and worshipped Him, Jesus... touched him... his leprosy was cleansed... See thou tell no man... show thyself to the priest, offer the gift that Moses commanded for a testimony unto them."
Leprosy is a slowly progressing disease characterized by nodules, scabs, and white shining spots. The disease rendered the person unclean. The destruction of the flesh of the body would eventually result in death.
The life of a leper in those days was very difficult. Only a descendant of Aaron (i.e. a priest) could pronounce a leper clean. All lepers were banished to live outside the walled towns. If one was caught within the walls, the penalty was 39 stripes (which was often a death sentence). In synagogues of the unwalled cities, a leper was the first to enter, and the last to leave. They had to stay within a separate room that was six foot wide, and 10 palms high.
The Rabbis of the era loved to teach that leprosy was caused by sin. This made the people to shun the lepers as sinners being punished by God. They considered leprosy to be a sign of "heresy" rather than to be indicative of a moral sin. Since they were to be "sinners", they were considered to be "mourners" and were forbidden to even wash their faces.
The leper had to shout "UNCLEAN" as he walked. If he even put his head into a room, it was considered to be unclean. Six foot was as close as anyone could come to a leper. If the wind was coming from that direction, the distance had to be 100 feet. Some people would throw stones at them to keep them away. The contracting of the disease was so fearsome that people shuddered in apprehension at the sight of a person with such disease.
Yet, Jesus came up to such a leper, and touched him.
"Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him..."
Elisha did not touch Naaman. Yet, Jesus did not fear to touch this leper. It was a result of the touch of Jesus that brought the cleansing of the leper.
The disciples observed Jesus lay hands upon many, as He did here to the leper, and saw the great miracles that were done. Jesus had taught them that these miracles were wrought in this way by the power of the Holy Spirit. Then after the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the disciples began to lay hands on the sick and afflicted. Miracles and healings were done in great numbers.
"AND BY THE HANDS OF THE APOSTLES WERE MANY SIGNS AND WONDERS WROUGHT AMONG THE PEOPLE."
There are many methods by which the Lord has instituted the workings of healings and miracles. For some there is to be the anointing with oil, prayer cloths for others, and last, but not least, the laying on of hands, i.e. the simple touching with our hands those who are in need of healing, or blessing. The church is told to lay hands on many.
"THEY SHALL LAY HANDS ON THE SICK, AND THEY SHALL RECOVER."
The laying on of hands seems to confer, on the recipient, a healing, or some other Spiritual gift. The people of that day noticed this connection. The disciples saw it early in the ministry of Jesus, especially here with the healing of the leper. They saw the miraculous event that commenced with the "touching" of the hands.
We have gotten too far from this type of ministry. We lay hands on people to pray, but expect no great thing to happen. It has become little more than a form or tradition to us. The church receives what they expect, little or nothing. If we would look at the Scripture, and observe that the laying on of hands was meant to confer something, then have faith that God still intends to bless us in this way, the expectancy would bring fresh blessing from the Lord upon this type of ministry.
The laying on of hands has power. Therefore, as with any tool that has power, caution needs to be used with the operation of it. We must beware of laying hands of blessing on people that are sinners.
I Timothy 5:22
"LAY HANDS SUDDENLY ON NO MAN, NEITHER BE PARTAKER OF OTHER MEN'S SINS; KEEP YOURSELF PURE."
Amplified Version (I Tim. 5:22)
"DO NOT BE IN A HURRY IN THE LAYING ON OF HANDS - GIVING THE SANCTION OF THE CHURCH TO HASTILY (IN REINSTATING EXPELLED OFFENDERS, OR IN ORDINATION OF QUESTIONABLE CASES) NOR SHARE OR PARTICIPATE IN ANOTHER MAN'S SINS; KEEP YOURSELF PURE."
The Lord is to tell us upon whom we should "lay hands on", or to touch, as Jesus did the leper. In the case of imparting blessings or ministries, one must be proven faithful and true before we should lay hands on them to give such gifts. We should not get carried away with this ministry. Let love and wisdom guide. Follow the Spirit's leading. Don't rush ahead of Him.