Jesus is a miracle worker... and the atonement provided by Jesus not only removes sins, but also provides healing from disease and sickness.
Matthew 8:17, Isaiah 53:4
"Himself took (Greek =lambano, carried away) our infirmities (bodily diseases) and bare (lift up in order to remove) our sicknesses (feebleness of mind and body, disease, sickness, weakness)."
The fame of Jesus spread as He began His ministry, because of His teaching and miracles...
Matthew 8:1, 18, 34; 9:10, 26, 31
"great multitudes followed Him... great multitudes were about Him... behold the whole city came out... many publicans and sinners came and sat down... the fame thereof went abroad into all that land... spread abroad His fame in all that country."
The miracles of Jesus brought the attention of the world of that day.
JESUS HEALS THE LEPER
"...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.
There were at least SIX BASIC PRINCIPLES TAUGHT BY JESUS according to Paul:
"Therefore, leaving the PRINCIPLES OF THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST, let us go on unto perfection, not laying again (Greek, kataballo meaning 'casting down') the FOUNDATION:
of repentance from dead works;
of faith toward God;
of the doctrine of baptisms;
of the LAYING ON OF HANDS;
of the resurrection of the dead;
and of eternal judgment."
This shows that one of the six doctrines emphasized by the Lord to the disciples was the 'LAYING ON OF HANDS'. The disciples had first seen Jesus lay hands on the sick, on the lepers, etc. and this developed into one of the basic principles of Jesus' teaching. We have allowed the significance of the touching, the laying on of hands to degenerate into simply a form. God wants to restore such gift to the church, and to have its use bring the healings, the miracles, and the gifts and ministries to the latter rain saints.
The Lord wills to have saints who will "lay hands on", i.e. to touch, others to impart blessings, healings, gifts, and ministries. The 'laying on of hands' as seen in our day is different than it was in the early church.. Now it is seen as only a form, a ritual, and a ceremony. But in the early church, soon in this age it will be a gift of the Spirit, an important doctrine, and a powerful, miraculous impartation of gifts and prophetic revelation from the Lord to His empowered saints.
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."
The early church continued to "touch", i.e. to lay hands upon many.
"Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit."
I Timothy 4:14
"Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of hands."
II Timothy 1:6
"...stir up the gift of God, which is in thee, by the putting on of my hands... for God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind."
"Whom they had set before the apostles, when they had prayed, they laid their hands upon them."
"And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them."
Paul also began to lay hands on the sick. Healings and miracles followed his ministry.
"PAUL ENTERED IN AND PRAYED, AND LAID HIS HANDS ON HIM, AND HEALED HIM."
"AND GOD WROUGHT SPECIAL MIRACLES BY THE HANDS OF PAUL."
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."
Paul was healed of his blindness, and filled with the baptism of the Holy Spirit when Ananias laid hands on him and prayed.
"AND ANANIAS...PUTTING HIS HANDS ON HIM SAID, 'BROTHER SAUL... RECEIVE THY SIGHT, AND BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT..."
The church at Ephesus received the baptism of the Holy Spirit when Paul laid hands on them and prayed.
"AND WHEN PAUL HAD LAID HIS HANDS UPON THEM, THE HOLY SPIRIT CAME ON THEM, AND THEY SPOKE WITH TONGUES."
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.
Simon noticed that people received the baptism of the Holy Spirit when the disciples laid hands on them. He desired to be able to do this too.
"WHEN SIMON SAW THAT THROUGH THE LAYING ON OF HANDS, THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS GIVEN, HE OFFERED THEM MONEY."
Timothy was given a special spiritual gift when Paul laid hands on him.
II Timothy 1:6
"WHEREFORE, I PUT THEE IN REMEMBRANCE THAT THOU STIR UP THE GIFT OF GOD WHICH IS IN THEE BY THE PUTTING ON OF MY HANDS."
I Timothy 4:14
"NEGLECT NOT THE GIFT THAT IS IN THEE, WHICH WAS GIVEN THEE BY PROPHECY WITH THE LAYING ON OF THE HANDS OF THE PRESBYTERY."
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.
Even with this caution, the church, especially during these last days, should be "laying hands on", i.e. touching, the people:
in praying for the sick,
in conferring the baptism of the Holy Spirit,
in imparting spiritual gifts,
in connection with prophecy to give confirmation,
in bestowing spiritual blessing,
in confirmation and ordination of ministries,
in sending out believers to do evangelism outside the church.