Our Role in the Healing Process
“Do you want to get well?” Jesus asks in John 5. He’s speaking to a man who’s spent nearly 40 years waiting for a miracle that depends on meeting certain conditions. As longtime Gospel readers, we know that’s not Jesus’s M.O. When he’s in the mix healing doesn’t come with prerequisites. It happens when the people around Jesus choose wellness over infirmity. They do whatever it takes to get Jesus’s attention. They shout from the curbs. They push through the crowds. They create big ruckuses that embarrass the disciples. That’s why so many healing stories end with Jesus telling the cured individual, “Your faith”—that is, your trust and courage—“has made you well.”
But there’s often an interesting epilogue to these healing episodes. Many who receive their healing immediately move forward, telling folks what Jesus has done for them (even though Jesus seems to think their faith is the real hero) or going places they couldn’t access in their condition.
Sometimes Jesus gives them an extra nudge, instructing them to “show themselves” to the priests. This was a common practice in Jesus’s day because the Holiness Code set down in Leviticus barred people with illnesses of every kind from entering the house of worship.
What may have started as a public health measure escalated into a stigmatization of people with noticeable physical and mental disabilities: skin conditions, blindness, immobility, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, and so on. Without access to the Temple, these people landed in the margins of society. So after their healing, the first thing they do is insist they have a right to belong, that social and religious confinements no longer apply, that they’re every bit as worthy as anyone else.
And the truth beneath all of this? They were never not worthy. Their healing enabled them to see what Jesus sees: people made in God’s image and likeness, worthy of the same respect and consideration we would give if God stood in our presence. (Which, when you think about it, is really what’s happening in these stories.)
So what about the fellow in John 5? Does he want to get well? He doesn’t say. Instead, he offers a lot of reasons why he’s not been able to get well for 38 years. (That should sound familiar to many of us who’ve struggled for a long time with our own issues.) In his case, Jesus commands him to move forward. “Walk!” Jesus says. The man finds the strength, courage, and determination to be healed. And what does he do next? He shows people how his life has changed.
Healing is about more than wellness. It’s about transformation, moving forward, insisting our worth is no less than any other person God made. Do we want to be well? It’s time to move forward!
Don’t miss this Sunday at Gather as we join together for a powerful worship experience focused on healing. We begin at 5p CST at Pilgrim Congregational Church, 460 Lake Street, Oak Park. If you’re unable to join us in person, you can find us online via Facebook Live.
We need your help!
As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.