How did the early Church establish the truth of Jesus’ resurrection? Firstly, the reality of the Risen Lord is made manifest in a miracle of healing. St Peter made it clear that the healing of the crippled man was not “by our own power or holiness.” Rather, “it is the name of Jesus which, through our faith in it, has brought back the strength of this man whom you see here and who is well known to you. It is faith in that name that has restored this man to health, as you can all see.” The denial of any power on their part in the healing of the man means that the power came from somewhere. Only if the Lord were alive, could there be healing. Indeed, there are no healers except the Lord Himself who makes use of us as His instruments.
Consequently, the power to heal is dependent on whether we have faith in the Lord’s resurrection. If the Lord had healed during His earthly ministry, we should expect Him to continue the same works He did when He was on earth. In fact, we would expect Him to do more now because He is no longer limited by space and time. If the Risen Lord is the Jesus of Nazareth, then surely the Lord would want to continue His healing works. In fact, He had told the disciples earlier, “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.” (Jn 14:12-14)
This explains why the gospel insists on the reality of Jesus’ resurrection; that He has a body as opposed to being simply a pure spirit. The Lord said to them, “Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as if that was not sufficient, Jesus said to them, “’Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.” Clearly, therefore, the resurrected Lord is the Jesus of Nazareth. Indeed, this was something beyond their imagination. “And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded.”
Having faith in the resurrection means to say that God is triumphant in the end. No one can hinder the plan of God. The resurrection of our Lord is His vindication. As St Peter said, “it is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, who has glorified his servant Jesus, the same Jesus you handed over and then disowned in the presence of Pilate, after Pilate had decided to release him. It was you who accused the Holy One, the Just One, you who demanded the reprieve of a murderer while you killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are the witnesses.” The raising of Jesus is the proof that Jesus is Lord and Saviour. Death could not imprison Him. With the resurrection, it means there is nothing the Lord cannot do for us.
What is necessary for us is to surrender our lives in faith to the Risen Lord. The question is whether we are willing to allow the Risen Lord to enter into our lives. Do we have the faith of the apostles who healed in the name of the Risen Lord? They were so sure of Jesus’ presence and assistance that they did not have any doubt that Jesus would heal the crippled man. Twice, they insisted on the necessity of faith. They said, “Through our faith in it, has brought back the strength of this man whom you see here and who is well known to you. It is faith in that name that has restored this man to health, as you can all see.” Faith therefore is the key to access the power of the Risen Lord and for Him to act in our lives. Without faith in His real presence, there can be no miracles in the Church or the sacraments.
Our faith in the Risen Lord is not just based on the testimony of the apostles but on the scriptures as well. The resurrection of our Lord, although a wholly other experience, yet it is not a total discontinuity with the faith of Israel. In truth, it is the fulfillment of the prophecies of old. This was what the Lord sought to explain and how the apostles justified the truth of the resurrection. Moses prophesied this event when he said, “The Lord God will raise up a prophet like myself for you, from among your own brothers; you must listen to whatever he tells you. The man who does not listen to that prophet is to be cut off from the people. In fact, all the prophets that have ever spoken, from Samuel onwards, have predicted these days.” Jesus in the gospel clarified the texts of the Old Testament as referring to Him. “’This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me, in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms, has to be fulfilled.’ He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures.”
But with faith in Him, the Lord works marvelously in and through us. This is the act of God’s goodness; that He would make use of us weaklings to do His work. So like the psalmist, we can only rejoice and say, “How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth! What is man that you should keep him in mind, mortal man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than a god; with glory and honour you crowned him, gave him power over the works of your hand, put all things under his feet.” God counts us worthy to be His instruments of healing and grace. Indeed, when I reflect on my own, I feel completely unworthy and humbled at how God works in and through me. There have been many times when I was at a loss as to what to preach, or what to write, but the Lord inspired me again and again. There have been many situations when I felt so hopeless and helpless, but God showed Himself to be the Lord by coming to my rescue, again and again. He indeed is the Lord and the mighty one.
Thus, with faith in the resurrection, “in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.” Following the apostles, we must continue the work of healing which the Lord has begun. Healing does not need to be confined to physical healing but also the healing of emotions, the mind, the heart and the soul. That is why the proclamation of healing begins with repentance of our sins and the corollary experience of forgiveness. When we repent of our sins, we remove the causes of our misery, brokenness and bondages. By receiving forgiveness from the Lord, we are healed emotionally and spiritually. When we are liberated from fear, pride and ego, then we can be totally open to God’s full healing grace, which in turn will also affect our physical healing as well.