Yesterday I wrote about reasons why people doubt. I want to make it clear, doubt is not an unusual response. I have been part of a healing team here at our church for almost ten years. We struggle mightily with all sorts of questions. One of the biggest is why isn't everyone healed?
In my prayer time two days ago I read John 5. It begins with a healing story. Now John tends to write longer narratives so there is more information available. John is not writing to explain healing to us, but we can learn some things about healing when we read it.
The setting is a pool in Jerusalem where a number of diabled people are lying around. We are told that they are blind, crippled and unable to move. [We might also see these as metaphors for spiritual maladies] Apparently, they believed that an angel came periodically to stir up the water and the first one in would be healed. Jesus saw all those people yet picked out only one, a man who has been crippled for thirty-eight years. That is a long time. When Jesus asks him if he would like to be healed, the sick man says that he has no one to carry him to the water when it has been stirred by the angel. Jesus makes no explanation, He simply says, "Stand up, take your mat and walk." Healing!!!!
But what of the others who are watching. Did Jesus look at any of them, shrug His shoulders and say, "Sorry, that is all for today"? Did the group cry out to Him, "What about me??? Help!!" Why did Jesus not heal them all? Why does He not heal them all today?
Well, I learned long ago that the question "Why?" is not always answered. But it is important to be aware that Jesus did not heal everyone. One clue may be from Luke 8:43-48. As Jesus is walking a woman with a bleeding disorder touches Him to be healed. He whirls around looking into the crowd asking, "Who touched Me?" He then said, "I felt power leave me." What was that power which He felt drained off? Is it possible that His healing touch came at a personal cost? Did it hurt Him to heal? Isaiah 53:5 has long been applied to the ministry of Jesus. Here may be an insight into the secrets of His ministry: "But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, by his wounds we were healed." Maybe the reason there is a CROSS is because it is the nature of creation. Maybe there is great cost to set right what we have made wrong. Maybe the healing of our world and its inhabitants does not occur magically. Maybe the world costs God, greatly.
God can do anything, I suppose, but it seems that once He chooses there are limits on Him. The world He creates has rules and He seems to be affected. I know that God heals. I also know He does not heal everyone all the time. But this was true in the ministry of Jesus. Jesus healed many people. The healing took something out of Him (power). We also know that the crowds took something out of Him. We read that He could not enter villages because of the crush of the crowds. At times He went off to hide and pray. But most importantly, He knew there was more than just physical healing.
Returning to John 5, Jesus warns the man, "stop sinning or something worse will happen to you." Sometimes God's acts of mercy and kindness become a distraction. He calls us to holiness and we view Him as a dispenser of miracles. He calls us to love and obedience and we call Him to do what we want. Healing is always a proclamation. It is preaching in word and deed. When we lose sight of that then we misunderstand healing. Maybe God does not heal everyone right now because once that starts this world ends. Maybe we have to watch and wait. In the meantime, the healing ministry of the church, in the time of waitnig, is an important ministry of proclamation and hope.