[Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”–Luke 4:16-21
Many Christians point to Luke 4 as a place where Christ defines his mission in and to the world. One of the ideas that rises out of this passage is that Christ has a mission to heal humankind, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually. One could argue that Christ’s healing mission, while explicitly stated in the “recovery of sight for the blind,” was implicitly stated in the other statements: “good news to the poor,” which could have included the healing of the ten lepers,1 those who are poor and rejected by society; “the freedom of the prisoners,” which could have been evidenced by the healing of the paralytic near the pool of Bethesda,2 a prisoner of his paralysis; and “the oppressed free,” which could have been seen through the healing of the bleeding woman,3 oppressed because she was unclean for twelve years. Beyond an implicit reading of this passage, one can consider the fact that more than half of Christ’s thirty seven miracles are healing miracles. For these and many other reasons, the healing mission was an important part of Christ’s ministry on earth.
In addition, Christ called His disciples to join with Him in this ministry. In Matthew 10, we read “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”4 After Pentecost, the apostles performed many healing miracles that lead others to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives, including the man who had been lame his entire life,5 the people who were brought before Peter, so that his shadow might fall upon them,6 and Paul’s resurrection of Eutychus.7
Christ’s desire for healing in the world has not ended. His redemptive work in our physical, emotional and spiritual lives continues. The calling to be part of his healing is not for only the apostles. Rather, according to I Corinthians 12, each of us are given spiritual gifts through the Holy Spirit and healing is one that is bestowed on many who are called into Christ’s service.8
Christ has a healing mission. The question with which some of us struggle is how can we join with Christ in his healing mission? Over the next several months and through this series of reflections, I seek to consider, address and struggle with the following questions about Christ’s Healing Mission:
• What can we learn about Christ’s Healing Mission by investigating His healing miracles?
• How are Christ’s miracles different than other religious healings? (a brief look at the history of medicine)
• How has the church been involved in the Healing Mission throughout history?
• How has our understanding and use of science enhanced Christ’s Healing Mission?
• How has our understanding and use of science been counterproductive to Christ’s Healing Mission?
• Should our identity as Christians affect how we use modern medicine?
• Should our identity as Christians affect how we pay for modern medicine? (responses to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010)
• What challenges does the future of medicine pose for us as Christians? (a look at the Christian’s responsibility in bioethical discussions and decisions)
• What is the main goal for Christ’s Healing Mission? (a realignment of medicine with Christ’s mission)
My hope is that as we walk through these reflections together, several things will result:
• we will engage in a thoughtful discussion about the various answers to these questions
• we will identify more questions that need to be addressed
• we will grow in community
• we will understand Christ’s Healing Mission and our role in it more
• and, that in all things, God will be glorified.
I am excited to embark on this mission with you.
Return to iAt every 2nd Monday of the upcoming months to read more in this series on how we can join with Christ in his healing mission. The next part of this series will be published on Monday, April 13, 2015.