We live in a virtual world these days. Much of what we do and how we connect with one another is done online. We have instantaneous access to information and people across the world by using the Internet. We make friends, find partners, do work and find entertainment in the virtual world.
The virtual world allows us to do things, see things and find things without actually being there physically. We can almost live our whole lives without leaving the comfort and security of our own homes.
And people think this is such an amazing and new thing that they do not even realise that the virtual world existed and was operating thousands of years ago. Yes this same instant and immediate activity was working back in the time of Jesus and the apostles, and we can see a good example of it in practice in these scriptures.
In this section of scripture we see that a great many signs, wonders and healings were being performed by the apostles and disciples in the early church. I have written elsewhere about the prime purpose of miraculous healings, which is to bear testimony to the truth of the teachings of the new covenant. However here we see something different occurring.
Many of the healings that took place in this time were “virtual” healings. Look at what the scriptures here say.
15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them.
16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
People were bringing their sick and laying them on the streets so that they would be healed just by having the Apostle Peter’s shadow fall across them. Sicknesses were cured and demons were cast out just by the simplicity of having a shadow cross the afflicted person.
Peter did not say or do anything, he did not lay hands on these people, he did not anoint them with oil and he did not pray for them. And they were all healed without Peter intervening in any way whatsoever. That is a true miracle and what I call a virtual miracle.
Other Virtual Miracles
And these were not the only times that The Lord healed people by use of a virtual process, that is, one where there was no direct intervention from the disciples or Jesus. Look at the example of Paul in Acts 19:11-12 and we see virtual miracles and healings being performed that did not even require the presence of his shadow.
11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul,
12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.
Handkerchiefs and aprons were carried from Paul to sick people who may have been many miles away and when the cloth was given to the sick person they were healed. Paul did not imbue these items of cloth with any substance that would effect these healings and there was nothing special about the items. Yet all those who took them were healed.
Is it realistic to believe that carrying items of cloth from Paul to a sick person would be enough to heal them? Likewise is it realistic to accept that by having Peter’s shadow fall across people as he passed them by on the street that they could be healed? What was the real power at work in these virtual miracles that was causing these wondrous things to occur?
The answer to this is faith. There was nothing miraculous about Peter’s shadow nor about the items of cloth carried from Paul, for these things could not heal a sick person or cast out a demon. It was faith that caused these things to happen in and allowed the miracles to occur, even from a distance.
The finest example of a virtual miracle occurring where Jesus showed that it is based upon faith was when a centurion came to Jesus seeking Him to heal the centurions servant, as we see recorded in Matthew 8:5-13.
5 When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him,
6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.”
7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.
9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.
The centurion understood and recognised the power and the authority that Jesus had from God. But it was his faith that Jesus saw and it was on the basis of his faith that the servant was healed as the centurion had requested.
Jesus did not have to be physically present to heal the servant, just as Paul was not physically present when cloths were carried from him to the sick. In the centurion’s case it was his faith in the power that he knew existed within Jesus that allowed his servant to be healed.
Faith is the key to these virtual healings. The virtual power that allows all things to happen in Jesus name comes by faith. In truth these virtual effects are truly spiritual works done by God through the Holy Spirit to show the power of God and to bear witness to the truth of the words that were being preached, first by Jesus and then by His disciples.
And this virtual power of faith to heal and do many wondrous things is still here today. The effects of a prayer of faith has mighty power to do things just as it did in those days. We communicate with God in prayer and when we ask in the name of Jesus, God hears our prayers and answers them. And just as occurred in those days, he will answer prayers and we will see His power poured out to do the works of God, especially when He chooses to bear witness to the truth of the word being taught.
The virtual world is not a new phenomenon. Man does it with lines, cables, modems, wifi, the Internet and so on. God has done it in the past and still does today through the power of His spirit and prayer. And unlike the Internet with download limits, speed limitations and so on, God has no limits, no costs and access to Him is instantaneous through the Holy Spirit and prayer.
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