Monday, August 08, 2005

For the Least of These

Several months ago, the Disability Ministry at my church held a luncheon for all of the families involved. One of the fathers led us in a devotional and I was very intrigued with his message. This blog is a summation of his thoughts along with some extended thoughts of my own.

His observation was simply that one of the passages where Jesus heals a man who cannot walk, after the people go to Jesus and ask him to heal the man, Jesus, interestingly, does not say, “Take me to him.” But instead, Jesus says to the people, “Bring him to me.” You see the point – Jesus required faith, not just from the one who was sick, but from those asking for the healing on his behalf. Jesus made them do some of the work. Jesus didn’t expect crippled men to hobble over to him – he expected others to take notice and bring these people to Him.

After mulling this over for a few weeks, I decided to take an even closer look. I perused all four Gospels and read every passage that mentions Jesus healing the sick. (Ironically, Luke, the physician, had the least to say about this topic than all four of them).

The results were somewhat stunning. In nearly every case that dealt with a person who was unable to walk or speak – healthy people were a key component to the story. Look at the language of some of these verses in particular.

Matthew 9:2: Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.

Note that it was “their” faith that touched Jesus – not the faith of the paralytic himself!

Matthew 15:30 says: Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.

Mark 2:3-5 is probably the most radical example: Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

Look at the joy and importunacy involved in this descriptions: Mark 6:55: They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And Mark 7:32: There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man. Mark 8:22 echoes the same sentiment: They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.

There are many other examples: Matthew 8:5; Matthew 9:1; Matthew 9:32; Matthew 17:16-17; Mark 9:17,20, Mark 10:46-52; Luke 4:40; Luke 5:17.

John 5:2-7 is a unique situation and yet stresses the same point.

Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie - the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?" "Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me."

This is amazing to me. You would think one person in thirty-eight years would lend the poor guy a hand. It makes me wonder what would have been his fate should he never have run into Christ.

This brings us, of course, to application. How does the church today fit into this context? What is the Church doing for its sick and needy today? Are we, like the New Testament believers, running to find the sick and begging Christ to heal them?

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Blogger Clint and Heidi said...

Thanks for the insight - it really leaves me thinking...
-Heidi :-)

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Lindsay O. said...

What a clear call to Christians to purposefully notice the needs around them! Thanks for sharing; I had never noticed this before.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Tracey, Uk said...

That's an abs brilliant view/insight into how the church should deal/help the needy in our midst.Thanks

7:03 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

What if the "needy" was based on the state of our hearts and not our bodies? What if we taught more about how everyone is broken in some way, rather than focusing on "broken" as being just the state of "disability"?

I think people tend to miss the real needs around them because they can't get over the state of my body and realize that I am made just as much in the image of God as they are. While I have needs just like everyone else, people sometimes miss the real needs because they're so focused on the state of my body.

11:45 AM  

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