“God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that when the handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, their diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them.” Acts 19:11-12 (NRSV)
If you have read the Synoptic Gospels, that is Matthew, Mark and Luke; more than once or twice, then you might be able to answer the following question. What miraculous healing story interrupts another miraculous healing story in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke? The answer can be found by reading Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43 and Luke 8:40-56. If your time is short when you are reading this devotional, the answer is included within the prayer printed below. Even if you could not identify this particular story as the one that interrupted another miraculous healing story, I suspect that most of you are familiar with the story of the woman in the great crowd who reached out towards Jesus in faith to be healed of her affliction.
Of course, one of the marvelous characteristics of the scriptures is that regardless of how many times you have read them, you can always discover something new or something you had not previously noticed! That is my experience with the text above. I am well acquainted with the story of Jesus’ healing of the woman in the Gospels, but this story of the Apostle Paul had escaped my notice. What about you? We see the similarity in the stories as articles of clothing and outstretched hands were involved as conduits for restoring health and wholeness.
At first, we might be tempted to believe that there was an element of magic about the healing as those who were sick or possessed by demons were healed after having touched handkerchiefs or aprons that the Apostle Paul had worn. The scriptures make clear that God was at work in these miracles done through His servant, the Apostle Paul!
As with the woman and Jesus, so with Paul and those afflicted, we may safely conclude that there was an element of faith at work in these healings. They may have reached out with little faith as if to say, “I believe, help my unbelief.” [Mark 9:24] They may have reached out in the strong faith of the Psalmist, who acknowledged God as the One “who heals all your diseases,” [Psalm 103:3b] , and Isaiah, who identified God as the One who “bind(s) up the brokenhearted.” [Isaiah 61:1c]
May the Lord grant us new insights every time we read and reflect on God’s Word!
O God, You are the Great Physician who heals us of our diseases and binds up our wounds. We thank You for these stories of miraculous healings and how they were conveyed through Your Son Jesus and the Apostle Paul. We thank You for the woman with the hemorrhage who reached out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and whose faith made her well. We thank You for those who were healed of sickness and evil spirits by God once they reached out in faith touching the Apostle Paul’s handkerchief and aprons. Thank You Lord for healing us of our diseases and for using doctors and nurses to be instruments of Your healing. And thank You Lord, for giving us fresh insights every time we read and study Your Word. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.