I am currently finishing up a series on the seven signs in the Gospel of John. When I read the Gospel stories, it seems to be packed full of miraculous healing. Jesus would touch someone, or someone would touch Jesus, or Jesus would just say the word and something would happen. Usually the narrative will point to a person’s faith in believing that Jesus could heal…and he would act.
This morning I read through Luke 7:1-10 and it is a story of a Roman officer who begs Jesus to come heal his slave. The Roman was well-loved in the Jewish community and so some elders of the synagogue come to ask Jesus to help this man. Jesus never touches the man or even enters the house of the Roman officer…here’s the text:
6 So Jesus went with them. But just before they arrived at the house, the officer sent some friends to say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor. 7 I am not even worthy to come and meet you. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. 8 I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”
Jesus’ response to this man’s faith and understanding of Jesus’ relationships and work really caught my attention. Jesus says, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” What did this guy get right?
First of all, he viewed his role as an “official” as one of service. Which might be why he valued his own slaves and why he understood the chain of command. Second, the Roman man realized that he was not worthy to welcome Jesus because Jesus’ rank was far above his. Third, what do we even do with the fact that this man felt absolutely unworthy to even meet Jesus…isn’t that just self-hatred or some sort of false humility? The Last aspect of this text is that the Roman understood Jesus’ power to command his soldiers of healing and help.
Jesus’ response to this man is not one of correction or comfort, but one that recognizes the faith of the Roman. Jesus is not a buddy or a friend in this text, he is the commanding Lord of Heaven’s goodness. And interestingly enough, it is a Roman who gets that truth and not the group of God’s people who seem to take God’s presence and Jesus’ power for granted. And that is my takeaway from this text, that I often fall to the temptation to think that Jesus is my servant, doing what I need; instead of Jesus is my Lord, and I serve Him.
I think the healing stories set me and us up to think that Jesus just went around healing everybody and that Jesus should always heal sick people in our lives. I mean, it’s in the Bible, we read them, and we make a link straight into the modern cases of cancer, childhood diseases, and horrific accidents that happen…among other stories. We want Jesus to heal. Yet, the Gospels claim that Jesus healing individuals are not the big picture, but signposts that allow us to see the big picture. In every story, by pointing out the faith a person has in Jesus, the stories open the window to the Kingdom of God and they allow us to peer at the King Jesus. This slave was healed, a son was healed, a lame man walks, a blind man sees, a woman stops bleeding, a boy is raised from the dead, and man is raised from the dead, demons are sent away; but don’t miss the point.
The point is that in a world where evil and death seem to slowly take the life out of us, Jesus turns it upside-down. The healing in each story points to the healing of the world. And to die in Jesus Christ, to make him Lord and to live as a citizen of the Kingdom of God is to be healed. Death has no hold on us, for we are held by the one who overcame the grave. Evil has not power in our lives, because we believe and live in faith that God is not only free of evil, but is working to free the world of evil. God is bigger than the biggest evils. So, continue to pray for healing, and pray even harder for those who are dying and suffering. But remember that for those who believe, Jesus’ ultimate healing is in his return, so don’t forget to pray for that as well.
I want to share thoughts, insights, and scriptures that lead us in the direction of Christ.