It is Depends Underwear, not the Lord Jesus, that advertises, “Get back into life with Depends.” By contrast, the Scriptures portray Jesus healing people not in order to get them back into life but rather to catapult them headlong out of normalcy and into a new way of life that is distinctly in Kingdom territory.
There is of course real truth to the idea that Jesus healed many whose illnesses had caused them to become socially outcasted–the woman with the issue of blood, the lepers, those who were demon possessed and always throwing themselves into fires and such. But notice that when Jesus heals them, he seldom says, “Now get back to normal.” Instead, he frequently says things like, “Stop sinning” and “Return home and tell everyone what God has done for you.”
In fact, Jesus was puzzled and put off when nearly all the lepers he healed in one group just went back into life. He praised the one who returned. And it’s hard to overlook that when Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, she jumped up and started to serve him.
Jesus’ compassion is never short-sighted. He would not heal someone only to consign them back into the same-old same-old of the sin-drenched world. His healing always opens the door to new self-identities for people, new relationships for them with God and with others.
At the same time, Jesus’ healings are not an effort for him to buy sin-stained stock at fire sale prices. In other words, Scripture never portrays him as responding to the “God-if-you-heal-me-then-I-will-serve-you-more-than-I-would-otherwise” offers we humans often make. Why would he? He is the God of grace, and our works are as filthy rags in his sight. Our works are means of grace he uses to bless us, not himself.
Healing is never a means to an end. It is, however, a gateway to an abundant life and a repudiation of business as usual. Whether the body is healed now or later (or when a new body granted to us in the resurrection), the forgiveness of sins–a topic Jesus nearly always brings up when he heals–is always offered to us, and with our acceptance of it the start of something really big.