Bible Study · Church · Spiritual Disciplines

Jesus the Reluctant Healer

For the details on why I’m blogging about Mark, go here: How I learned to stop worrying and love the Bible.

 “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”

But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him.

~ Mark 1:44-45

Sometimes we try to play games with Jesus in order to get to our preferred narrative. One of my favorites is the “well, the reason he told people not to tell after he healed them was reverse psychology. He actually wanted them to spread the news!”

I’m beginning to think we should just take Jesus at his word as much as possible.

Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.”

~ Mark 1:35-38

If you take Jesus at his word, then his mission wasn’t actually to heal people. His mission was to preach a message. And it was very specific message. “The Kingdom of God is near!” (More on that in future posts, I’m sure.)

And this whole healing people thing? It was actually kind of a distraction to his main mission. It brought sick people out of the woodwork, not to hear about a Kingdom, but just for the chance to be touched by him and escape the pain and drudgery of their everyday lives.

And these hurting people? They interrupted his sermons all the time. One guy even busted in through the roof of the house Jesus was preaching in. It was really bad, you guys!

Who could possible preach under those kind of conditions?

And yet, when the rabble came, Jesus healed them anyway. Even though he knew it would be counterproductive to what he actually came to do. Even though he knew it would get in the way of his mission. And not just once! It happened over and over and over.

But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him.

~ Mark 1:45

And still, he healed them.

Why?

A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said.

Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!”

Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.

~ Mark 1:40-41

Did you miss it?

Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him.

Moved with compassion.

Compassion.

Jesus had compassion on the sick and the hurting. On the marginalized and the forgotten. On the broken and the discarded.

Even though he knew this compassion was going to make trouble for himself later on.

Wow. It kinda looks like this Jesus dude had a message discipline problem.


Like anyone who’s been in the church for a while, I’ve been through a few what I’ll call “save our church” programs. The Purpose Driven Church. Simple Church. Mosaic. Lots more that I’ve probably forgotten. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, and I really don’t want to debate the merits of any of them here. I do want to say one thing clearly though: if your model, whatever it is, doesn’t allow for compassionate deviations, you are doing Church wrong.

I mean, this is Messiah himself, out not just on any mission, but on The Mission. He is preaching the Original Good News™. And yet, he routinely gives in to distractions, knowing full well that this is going to muck up the schedule, that this is going to bring in unruly crowds who really aren’t interested in the main thing, knowing that this is going to confuse some of his followers, and that this is going get some other people really angry. And yet he does it anyway.

WHY, JESUS? WHY CAN’T YOU JUST STICK TO THE PROGRAM???

Because hurting people are more important than the program. They matter more than the schedule. They matter more than decorum and whether this is “the appropriate time and place.”

Even when you are Messiah. Even when your Mission is one that will change the very course of history. Even then, you still take time out to care about people where you can, where you can.

Because People matter more than Mission.

Why? Because if you left those broken children of God in their pain and their shame so you could get on with your next checkbox, then what exactly is so “Good” about this “Good News” you’re all hepped up to preach in the first place?

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