Bill Johnson: Claiming the Power to Heal As Jesus Did
God gave every believer the power to heal as Jesus did. But releasing such miracles through you is all about recognizing authority.
Learning to hear God's voice and follow His lead is joyful and exciting, yet I must admit it also keeps me on edge. I was at Grace Center, a great church outside Nashville, Tenn., when a woman came to me for prayer. She was afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis head to toe. As I moved to pray for her, I felt a check in my heart that I was not to pray. In this case, something was different. I could tell Jesus was going to heal her, yet it felt as if I would interfere with the work of God if I prayed or laid hands on her. I wasn't even allowed to make decrees of healing over her or pronounce her well, as Jesus did with, "Go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter" (Mark 7:29).
This woman's healing was to be a school of the Spirit for me. I asked her to close her eyes so the other ministry going on around the room wouldn't distract her. She did as I requested. Then I sensed a heat on the back of my neck, obvious but subtle. It felt like hot oil slowly flowing downward, so I told her the anointing was flowing down her neck. She said she felt it. When it reached the base, I told her the neck should be healed by now. She moved it about in ways that would have caused pain before, only to find that it was, in fact, healed.
In that moment I realized what God was doing. I was a play-by-play announcer, like at a sporting event. It was my privilege to describe what God was doing in her as He showed me on my own body. He wanted to heal her without it flowing through me, whether through prayer, decree or the laying on of hands. It is important for us to understand that it is always God who heals.
+The hot oil continued to flow downward until the healing reached her toes, at which time we were able to give thanks for a complete and total healing. This happened without anyone even praying for her. I love being used by God to give a word of knowledge describing what He's healing or to lay hands on someone for a miracle. But my favorite thing is to watch God at work without my doing anything but observing and rejoicing.
So much is already within reach—at hand. We tend to want to pray for what we already possess and do something to bring it about. And all too often, we ask God to do what He has already decided to do. As Randy Clark says, "To beg God to heal is to assume you have more mercy than He does." God has already decided to heal people, and He demonstrated that choice by purchasing the miracle with the stripes on Jesus' body.
Letting the Father Lead
Jesus only did what the Father was doing and only said what the Father was saying (see John 5:17-18; 8:26). This sets a pretty high standard for how to live.
While Jesus is eternally God, He emptied Himself of His divine powers and became a man (see Phil. 2:7). It's vital to note that He did all His miracles as a man, not as God.
If He did them as God, I would still be impressed. But because He did them as a man yielded to God, I am now unsatisfied with my life, being compelled to follow the example He has given us. Jesus is the only model for us to follow.
No two miracles of Jesus recorded in Scripture were done in exactly the same way. I can't help but wonder if our tendency to get locked into patterns and principles, though they have value, might work against our need to stay connected to what the Father is doing. It's no longer a question of whether it is God's will to heal. Now it's only a question of how.
Developing an ear for His voice seems to be at the heart of this issue, for faith comes by hearing, not having heard (see Rom. 10:17). Faith implies a present-tense relationship with God. What we know can keep us from what we need to know if we don't stay childlike in our approach to life and ministry.
For example, the key for Jesus wasn't putting mud in a man's eye or telling him to wash in the pool of Siloam (see John 9:6-7). It was hearing the voice of the Father and doing what He said that made that particular act powerful. As Luke 4:4 says, we live by every word that proceeds from God's mouth.
We can see how the Father directed Jesus to do certain things to bring a breakthrough. Whether it was the spit that Jesus put on the mute man's tongue or simply saying to the centurion, "Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed," Jesus acted from the Father's direction (see Mark 7:33; Matt. 8:13).
But what about the woman who touched Jesus' clothing? Or what about the Syrophoenician woman who wanted her daughter healed, even though Jesus said the time was not right because He needed to minister to the Jew first? (See Matt. 9:21; Mark 7:24–30.) The Father did not direct Jesus to either of them, yet in both cases Jesus recognized the Father's gift of faith functioning in them and brought the breakthrough they cried out for—one before the fact, the other after.
It greatly encourages and helps me to see through these examples that God's will is not always made known to us directly. Sometimes we must learn to recognize what He is doing by watching how people respond to the Holy Spirit. Knowledge of His will is always available for those who want to see it. It is a very important part of the "normal Christian life" of signs, wonders and miracles.
Power and Authority
Jesus gave His disciples power and authority to minister as He did. "Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick" (Luke 9:1-2, emphasis added). According to one Greek-Hebrew dictionary, the word powerin the original Greek (dunamis) is translated as "miraculous power" (usually by implication, a miracle itself); and the Greek word for authority, exousia, is defined as "privilege, superhuman, token of control, delegated influence or authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right."
These two realms are heaven's influence for life and ministry. They are, in fact, a two-edged sword that enables us to be much more effective, regardless of the circumstances. I like to compare ministering in power to a surfer catching a wave. We position ourselves in ministry, look for what God is doing and paddle like crazy to catch the wave. It is a great privilege to experience those moments. In fact, it is a lifelong journey for me to learn to ride the manifestation of His power.
I remember one Sunday night I felt the healing presence of Jesus come into the room. I stopped in the middle of what I was saying and announced what I felt, pointing to the back part of the sanctuary, where He entered.
When the words came out of my mouth, a man with prostate cancer was immediately healed. No one prayed over him. The pain just left. His doctor verified his healing that week. A woman with a breast tumor was healed, too. Many others were impacted by the presence to heal. (See Luke 5:17).
All I did was spot the wave, change the course of the meeting (paddle to catch it) and announce what I saw (catch the wave.) The result was obvious: Jesus confirmed His Word with power.
Authority is quite different from power. Power is explosive and environmental in the sense it is the actual atmosphere of heaven that changes the atmosphere of earth. Authority is a position given by Jesus Himself. A policeman carries a gun (power), but he also carries a badge (authority). The badge does much more than the gun.
Power is the atmosphere of heaven. Ministering in power is like catching a wave. Authority is like starting a wave. Things start happening because of who God says we are and what our responsibilities are. Faith is what connects us to this realm of authority—we have to believe what He says about us and what He has commissioned us to do.
One of our young men, Brandon, went down to a local bar on his 21st birthday, but not to celebrate in the usual worldly way. He spotted other young men in the back and went over to start a conversation.
As he began to talk with one of them, the Lord showed him something about the young man's life that He wanted to heal. The Spirit of God came upon the young man, who then called a friend over to their booth to experience the same thing.
Brandon turned to the young man with a word of wisdom about how to handle certain things in his relationship with his father. This came through a word of knowledge. That young man began to weep. He then told Brandon, "I want to buy you a drink!" When he turned him down, saying he was not there to drink, the tearful young man asked him, "Then what are you here for?" Brandon responded, "I'm here for you."
Now, recognize there was nothing happening in the bar that was helping to set the atmosphere for God's presence: no stirring sermons; no exalted worship; no believers in agreement. There was just darkness invaded with light: a single light. But it was enough.
It has become normal for us to see miracles in public places simply because of this thing called authority. Learning to act out of who we are to God is central to success in the realm of miracles. It is called authority.
This definition of ministering in authority is not a contradiction to ministering in power, which is best represented by the challenge to do only what you see the Father do. Sometimes the only way to find out what the Father is doing is to use your authority to get there.
What About Now?
Previous to the moment in Luke 9:1-2 when Jesus gave His disciples power and authority, they had been operating under the umbrella of His anointing and call. I experienced something similar to this, but on a much smaller scale, with our dear friend Dick Mills.
Dick has memorized over 7,700 promises of the Bible in various translations. He is known for profound prophetic ministry using Scriptures. It is an unusual and amazing gift that brings so much encouragement to people, even those who do not believe in the prophetic ministry for today. It is hard for people to reject Dick's ministry because he just uses Scripture.
My family and I went to spend a day with Dick and his wife, Betty. Since there was a meeting that night, we decided to stay and enjoy gleaning from his unusual gift. When Dick was finished with his message, he told the people that he was going to call individuals to the front and give them prophetic words from Scripture. He then told them he would hand the microphone to me and I would do the same thing. Dick had never discussed this with me! I was terrified, but I obeyed.
It was amazing. I stepped into Dick's gift and functioned as he did under his anointing by honoring his gift and yielding to his direction. His gift increased my own capacity to minister.
In much the same way, the disciples functioned under Jesus' anointing—but for three and a half years. When Jesus died, things had to change for their benefit. Now they would need their own experience with God. Following the Resurrection, the disciples received an upgraded assignment and authority from the resurrected one (see Matt. 28:18-20; John 20:21).
The one with authority had now commissioned the remaining 11 disciples with His authority. Death, sin and the powers of darkness had been defeated. From that triumph, they were called to accelerate what they had already been doing for these few years. But now they were to do so by giving witness to the Resurrection itself, announcing the forgiveness of sin that was available to all.
One thing remained undone. The disciples were given the exousia (authority), as we saw in Luke 9, but what about the dunamis (power)? The disciples were also given authority in the Great Commission, but Jesus now required that they not leave Jerusalem until they had received the dunamis—power from on high (see Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4).
Jesus was clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit at His own water baptism, where, as a man, He had His personal encounter with the Holy Spirit (see Luke 3:22; John 1:32). Now the disciples would need the same.
Today, everyone who receives Christ is given authority. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12). The word right in this verse is the word exousia, or authority—meant for us all.
And today the command remains the same for us as for the disciples tarrying in Jerusalem: We ought not leave our ministry base until we are clothed with dunamis—power from on high.
Bill Johnson·is senior pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, Calif. He is the author of numerous books, including Center of the Universe, and co-author with Randy Clark of·The Essential Guide to Healing, from which this article was adapted.