by Leslie Chambers
Some time ago, I got a bug up my tail to read the four gospels. I had just read Acts and I loved the way Luke wrote. I felt like I was his friend Theopholis. I’d had a renewed interest in Jesus and thought I’d read what Luke had to say about Him. I finished Luke and wanted more. John was next, so I read his account of Jesus’ life. Then Mark’s and finally Matthew’s. Jesus is awesome!
There was one thought that captured my attention like the ball dropping in Time’s Square on New Year’s Eve. I’d seen it, or rather read it, before but this time all of my senses were alerted. The stories told me about Jesus healing people who were sick, blind, bleeding, who had leprosy and other life altering afflictions, including a few folks who had actually died. His ability to create life and health was – is – miraculous and desirous. Matthew told me that Jesus healed them all. Yes, all. Wow! A question and its answer invaded my brain so forcefully I was momentarily stunned into complete silence.
But where are they all now?
Seconds later, other questions and thoughts flew at me like bullets from a rapid-fire machine gun. What was the point of healing those people if they all eventually died? I assume Jesus knew the healing was only temporary. Why did He do it? Did they suffer any other afflictions in their lives after the miraculous healing? Were they happy for the rest of their lives? We aren’t guaranteed happy. Did they find joy in living their healed lives? Did they suffer at all after they were healed? Probably. How did the guy who was blind from birth live the rest of his life? Did he have any skills he could use to make a living? Did he experience doubt like the ancient Hebrews, who only a short time after being delivered from the Egyptians wanted to return to the slavery that was familiar and therefore comfortable? What about the lepers? Did “healthy” people readily accept them back into their lives or was there pushback? They had been complete outcasts having to shout out their afflictions whenever anyone came near. Was it easy to assimilate back into their families and culture or did they continue to yell out, “Unclean, unclean!” every time they neared town? Was it hard to lose the leper identity? Did they consider themselves former lepers – lepers saved by grace? How much time did their friends and families spend waiting and watching for the disease to return? It couldn’t have been easy. Did they know who healed them? Why did Jesus send so many of them to the priests after He healed them? Wasn’t His healing them enough? Why are we so enamored with healing when the reality is that some day, even if we are healed, we are going to die?
I was spent.
As the holes left by the gospel questioning machine gun gaped, I needed to find out why Jesus sent so many of those He healed, who would eventually die, to the priests He so often reprimanded. I found the answer in Leviticus.
I can honestly say I don’t think I’d ever read Leviticus all the way through. It’s a bit bloody for me. Leviticus 14 describes the man who has already been healed of leprosy (miraculously I might say as there was no cure) coming to the priest in order to be made or pronounced clean. Only when pronounced clean by the priest, could he re-enter community.
Jesus was no dummy. He knew healing while fantastic, was incomplete. Healing makes us feel better, our minds or bodies are better which is great for a time. Cleansing allows us to re-establish relationships. It eradicates loneliness.
Jesus became our High Priest cleansing us from all unrighteousness. He made us into new creations so that He can be, because He wants to be, in relationship with us. I love the idea of Him creating something new in this closed world where the theory of conservation of mass seems to rule. New life, a new type of mass and matter, the idea of a second birth gives us a new kind of hope, one in sharp contrast to the impotent hope dependent solely on rearranging or redecorating our current flawed matter.
Jesus healed us, cleansed us, justified and sanctified us in such a way that we became completely new creations. To idolize physical healing and focus on our broken flesh whatever we believe that brokenness to be distracts from the new life He died to give. Jesus sent those whose flesh He healed to the priest to highlight His desire for us to become new creations, able to re-enter community with Him. Jesus is our High Priest. He has healed us all. When we come to Him, He cleanses us. Honestly, if you think about it long enough, aren’t you glad it’s not your responsibility? Don’t you want it to be true?