Part I of our series on Healing and Comforting
There’s a fascinating story about illness and healing in John 9:1-7. This story is dripping with insight about how God views illness and what he has in mind through the Work of Mercy called healing and comforting:
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him,“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him,”Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
Before we dive into this amazing story, we need to get a few other Scriptures on the table to orient us. The first one comes from Paul in Galatians 4:9-10. Though the Galatians “have come to know God, or rather to be known by God,” Paul says, they have “turn(ed) back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world” and they “observe days and months and seasons and years.”
Their discipleship, in other words, has gone off track.
Certain practices—which Paul calls “weak and worthless”—have turned them to a “different gospel” (Gal. 1:6). So in this moment, in Galatians 4:19, Paul gives us a crystal clear picture of the purpose of discipleship when he says:
“…my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!”
The goal of discipleship? “Christ in you, the hope of glory”—that’s what Paul calls it in Colossians 1:27.
It’s the principle we come back to again and again: God creates human beings to bear his image. When sin and death enter the world through Adam, that vocation is lost because the image of God is distorted. Christ, the second Adam, comes to restore that vocation by living a sinless life and offering himself as what John in 1 John 2:2 calls “the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Through Christ’s death and resurrection, he creates a way for God to dwell in the human spirit. As he says in Revelation 3:20,
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
Christ opens his home to us, on earth and in heaven. And he comes to us through his messengers, seeking hospitality. Those who receive him and those who don’t are repaid accordingly.
Oh, the deep, deep connection between salvation and hospitality!
It may not be obvious yet–this deep, deep connection. But hang with me through the next two posts while we examine the theme together. What we’ll see is that one of the reasons we Christians have such confused theologies of healing…is because we don’t understand hospitality very well either, and the two (as we’ll see this week) are joined at the hip.