Feb 16 2013 - Mark 1:29-2:12 – Healing
The passage that we have read this morning tells of Jesus healing the sick. The accounts are piled one on top of the other: the healing of Peter's mother-in-law in Capernaum draws the crowds who bring their sick and demon possessed to be healed. Jesus then leaves to take his message to other nearby villages, "preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons" (Mark 1:39). We are told of a leper being cleansed of his leprosy. Despite being told by Jesus to keep quiet about what had happened to him he, quite naturally, tells everyone he meets with the result that Jesus has to leave town to escape the crowds who are seeking him out.
Eventually Jesus returns to Capernaum and again the crowds gather to hear what he has to say. A paralysed man is brought by his friends to be cured by Jesus. Since they cannot get to the door of the house where he is speaking because of the crowds, they climb upon the roof, remove some of the roofing and lower their friend to Jesus. Jesus not only heals the man, he also declares that the man's sins are forgiven, scandalising the teachers of the law who were present, but filling the crowds with wonder as they declare, “We never saw anything like this!”
Healing is not incidental to Jesus' ministry. Even the most cursory reading of the gospels makes it clear that the healing ministry of Jesus was central to his mission. Nor is it simply a visual aid, as if his healing of physical ailments were simply to demonstrate that he can heal the soul. To be sure, Jesus here links the forgiveness of sins with his healing of the sick; his ability to heal is a demonstration that he has power to forgive. But that does not make healing secondary. Jesus came to heal the world; to heal it of all that has come into the world through sin; to heal the world of sickness, sin and even of death. This was why he had come; this was the substance of his preaching of the kingdom; this was the meaning of his death and resurrection; this is the hope we have in him.
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
Jesus’ healing ministry was a sign of the kingdom – the age to come, breaking into this present age.
We have friends and relatives who are sick and suffering from various illnesses. We long that we could take them to Jesus as the friends of the paralysed man did in Capernaum. True, we can bring them to Jesus in prayer and there are times when we witness wonderful healing, but all too often we see little change. We long for the day when Jesus shall return; the day when sickness, suffering and death shall be no more. But this is no get-out clause. In the meantime we are called to bring healing to a broken world through the power and presence of the Lord Jesus – the healing of sins forgiven, broken relationships mended, suffering alleviated and broken lives made whole.
Lord Jesus, I long for the day when this broken world will be healed; I long for your kingdom to come in all its fullness. Help me to know your healing power, and by your risen presence within me, help me to bring your healing to those I meet today.