1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
One of the benefits of Jesus’ work on the cross is healing. Whenever we celebrated the Lord’s Supper in the tradition in which I grew up, Psalm 103 would be read immediately following. It was part of the liturgical form that we used. Of course, the focus was on the forgiveness of sin that we have through the sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus. However, we bless the Lord also for healing.
Isaiah 53 reminds us that by Jesus’ wounds, or by His stripes – as some translations read – we having healing available to us. This means that the finished work on the cross makes healing available to us.
When we gather together to celebrate Communion, we focus on what Jesus did for us on the cross. Healing is available to us at the foot of the cross because Jesus paid for it with His own body.
It is interesting that Paul tells the Corinthians that many of them are sick because of the way they treat each other at the Lord’s Supper. It was a complete meal and their behavior at this meal brought sickness to them, according to Paul. Although this may seem harsh, this is really not my point. My point is that when we treat the Lord’s Supper as it deserves and we treat others as they deserve, there is healing available to people. Part of this is that the Lord Himself is present to heal.
When we rightly celebrate all the benefits available to us through the work of the cross, we can appropriate those benefits. Some people are simply healed through the act of participating in Communion. Others are healed as we look to the Lord for healing and pray specifically for healing in conjunction with Communion.
There is no formula. The Lord can heal any time, any way and any place. He is more than ready to heal. We are not limited to or even commanded to pray for healing when we come together to share the Lord’s special meal.
The purpose of the Lord is to restore us spiritually, emotionally and physically. Why not pray for healing when we come together in the name of the Lord to celebrate His Resurrection? After all, the same power that raised Jesus up from the dead is available to us to invigorate our physical bodies with healing power.
Who doesn’t want benefits? The benefit of healing is available to us when we celebrate Communion. Why not take advantage of it?
By Ralph Veenstra