The first was healing a leper. It was an immediate healing and the leper was commanded to show himself to the priests who would then be able to attest to the miracle. This was important because rumors and anecdotal stories about Jesus healing would not prove him to be the Messiah. When the priests examine the man, they would have to acknowledge that he was indeed healed, and the only reason would be Jesus’ touch.
Healing the centurion’s servant from a distance further establishes that Jesus is not just the Messiah but that as Messiah he is also God. For who can heal another without even touching the person? This also serves as a lesson of faith. Here was a pagan who knew more about the way the spiritual realm worked than did most Jews. It is a lesson for us as well. It should teach us that healing doesn’t have to come from one of the faith healers who announce to the world that he or she will hold a healing meeting and people will be healed. Indeed, that is presuming upon God. Not only that, but it isn’t necessary to “lay hands” on a person for them to be healed. It is all about what God wants to do.
Then there is Peter’s mother-in-law. There is no mention of anyone asking Jesus to heal her. It doesn’t say she asked or Peter asked. Jesus saw her with the fever and he initiated the healing.
Sometimes we get all caught up in trying to figure out how God heals and what the correct method of approaching him is so that it will happen. When we do that and we rely on these examples of healing to formulate the ritual, we are forgetting that these miracles were done and recorded to verify that Jesus is the Messiah, not to give us an incantation that will cause him to act. We forget that God heals as he wants and in the ways he wants, not necessarily when or how we think he should. He heals when he wills (the leper). He heals without someone needing to touch the ill person (the centurion’s servant) and he heals when he sees a need (Peter’s mother-in-law). He even heals when people don’t exhibit any kind of faith (see John 5:1-17). The man healed by the pool didn’t even know who Jesus was when he was healed. Later, when Jesus introduced himself, the man even ratted Jesus out to the religious leaders.
The danger for us when we read these accounts is to try to make more of them than what the Bible says. After all, “This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took our illnesses and bore our diseases’” (Matt 8:17).