Have you ever watched the tele-evangelists? When I was in graduate school there were many nights where I couldn’t sleep. So I would get up put on a coat and walk to the student lounge and watch TV. I had the keys to everything on the campus so I could let myself in anywhere I wanted when I wanted. I remember lying on the dirty disgusting couches from the 1950s flipping through the channels. One night, I came across a tele-evangelist all passionate about Christ and inviting people to come forward to receive the Spirit and healing from their diseases, illness, and disabilities.
The first thing I thought was “Yeah right. And I bet he could heal these stomach ulcers and relieve all my stress too. And what happens to the individual when his laying on of hands does not work. And how much money is he taking from them to perform such a miracle.” If you can’t tell, I was a bit of a skeptic. However, there are many people who do have the power to sooth and heal with their hands without all the pomp and drama. Our doctors and nurses; our physical therapists, massage therapists, and psychologists to name a few. With these types of healers, if the healing isn’t completely successful we don’t blame ourselves as hopelessly sinful and lost. However today’s readings, have me thinking about how we are all called to work for God’s healing in the world.
We don’t have to be trained medical professionals, herbalists, or homeopathic specialists. We can work to help heal people on a spiritual level. Jesus’ healing wasn’t just about curing a fever, raising someone from the dead, helping someone to see or walk. His healing work was meant to do more. It was meant to help give people what they needed to heal their relationship with God. The physical healings were just the manifestation of that work. When Jesus healed, he was teaching so that when he left, the disciples would be able to take over his work.
When you think of Jesus’ purpose in the world, what words come to mind? How might you define it? The simple answer is to say “to save the world”. But we are urged to think harder about it. What did the world need saving from, what does that saving look like? And how are we being called to help promote that type of salvation? Our Old Testament looks at salvation being mostly collective and it is usually salvation from serious peril: nationally or in the case of Psalms individually.
Jesus came to the world to change our thought and understanding of salvation. For the first time, salvation became also about the individual that was in need. Luke says Jesus’ ministry was to, “seek and save that which was lost”. The timing of this salvation includes all that is complete, that which is happening now, and that which is to happen in the future. Jesus trained his disciples to enact his healing work: healing the relationship between the individual and God which in my understanding is the true salvation.
Each of our gifts and talents, our abilities and our enjoyments, can all be used to help those who are in need. Those who in Jesus’ time would have been considered lost and may even be considered lost in today’s world. With all that humanity has to struggle with throughout our lifetimes, we could use those healing hands in our lives. And it doesn’t just come from those people like the tele-evangelists, it doesn’t just come to nations as we saw in Isaiah, and it doesn’t just come from the trained hands of doctors. We are all called to be the hands of Christ effecting healing in any way possible: emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Jesus went forth to seek the lost and we saw that with his visit to Simon Peter’s mother-in-law in Capernaum where she lay with a fever presumably on the brink of death. She would have been considered lost in the ancient world, as were all those who were brought to Jesus that day to receive healing. Jesus didn’t ask what their backgrounds were. He didn’t ask how they got to where they were. He didn’t ask if they were contagious. He saw them and had compassion and offer each person a new opportunity at life and faith. He offered them hope and salvation.
It is important that this appears at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and the beginning of the disciples’ education because it sets the ground work for what Jesus would expect of them and us from that moment on. Jesus expects each of us, who call ourselves disciples, to go forth and to be his hands of healing in the world. We are called to reach out without judgment, just compassion. Jesus taught his disciples that you didn’t need to be the son of God to do great things in the world. You just need conviction, faith, and empathy for a person in need. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “Everyone can be great … because anyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love”. We are each called to live our compassion, to live our faith, and to do our best to spread the love of Christ because it is through his love that the lost are found and given hope and we are his agents of hope and healing in the world. Remember what happened when he healed Peter’s mother-in-law, “Jesus came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them”. So go forth and serve, and care, and love. Go forth and help Christ’s hope and salvation change the lives of others.
 Luke 19:10.
 Martin Luther King, Jr. 20th century minister, theologian, and civil rights activist.
 Mark 1: 32, NRSV.
(Based on Isaiah 40: 21-31 and Mark 1: 29-39)