Mark 1: 21-28 Healing and Curing

 

Jesus is a healer, not a curer. Curing is an individualistic process, and, while Jesus did heal individuals, they were people related to others - a mother-in-law, people who were BROUGHT, etc., and crowds gathered. The healing is all based in a social setting.

 

Imagine what might have happened if, when Jesus was told of the fever of Simon's mother-in-law, he had said "What health insurance does she have?" This illustrates many things, not least of which is the way we treat individuals for single, highly specialized issues. (A physician in our day might say, "I seen that gallbladder before." Jesus might rather say, "I know your family.")

 

We ministers live in this reality. A member has been laid up for months with a bad leg. What does she see as the chief issue? Not that her leg is taking a long time to recover (though that is of course important), but that she is unable to get out and be among friends, to feel human.

 

The Bantu concept of "ubuntu" says that a person is a person to another person. So, when I am ill, I find that I am less able to be a person to you, and my illness diminishes you. In addition, when I am ill, I am less able to receive you as a person, so I too am diminished.

 

So let's think of "healing" rather than "curing" and we'll begin to understand what Jesus did and what we need to do.

 

Healing for Jesus is a sign of something bigger. It makes all the difference to someone demon possessed or a woman with a fever (etc.) if they are healed, of course. But healing is a sign of the reign of God. It says that we were not made for our bodies to be failing. We were made for wellness. We were made to have the capacity to stand for justice, to make peace, to give and receive joy. Wellness arising from illness is a sign that God is alive and at work and powerful in this world.

 

So our prayers for healing are contained and informed by the Lord's prayer: "Your kingdom come." Not in any abstract way, but in a concrete, bodily, incarnate way. I want to be healed, not only because it's good for me, but because it will give glory to God. And this is the important point - I can be healed, despite not being cured! I can be socially restored, to some extent, even though my body is not all that I might hope. Hence, my healing bears witness to God's reign.

Finally, when healing becomes a matter of social rather than individual conception, we can all recognize our need for healing. We all have some sort of broken relationships in our lives. We may know of them directly - people we've hurt or who have hurt us. They may be written on a larger scale hatred and fear of those different from ourselves, between those of different races or between rich and poor, those who have different understandings and attitudes to the scriptures, male and female, gay and straight, etc. We are all in need of healing; we all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory.

 

Thus we are privileged to be part of God's ministry of healing, but as wounded healers. We don't heal from our strengths, but from our wounds. We open our ears to hear the echoes of our own brokenness in others, and make space for them to experience shalom. We open our eyes to detect what we see when we look in the mirror, and we make a covenant of compassion. We take on the mind of Christ, and empty ourselves, as we are, wounds and all, and so give glory to God.

 

(Acknowledgement to Rev Paul Janssen for healing vs curing)