A Healing Ministry
By Pastor Jerry Donovan
Jesus expects his followers to engage in healing, feeding, forgiving, and rebuilding community. In the gospel of Luke 17: 11-19, Jesus’ actions point to the building of community. As Jesus traveled to Jerusalem along the border between Samaria and Galilee, a group of ten men having leprosy met him as he was about to enter a village there. These men would have been considered unclean and not been part of the community in fact they were ostracized.
From a distance they all called out, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”
“And as they went, they were healed.” Not by touch or ointment, but in believing that somehow Jesus would make them clean at some point before they showed themselves to the priests. Nowhere in the story do we learn when the healing occurred. They had to trust that healing would occur; otherwise, it would not have been helpful to go before the priest. If they were not healed, they would not be allowed back into the community.
Love God and love neighbor are not prayer requests to be taken lightly, or to engage when convenient. They are expectations. They are the hope of all of life. In fact, when one lives a life of community building and seeking the welfare of the stranger, one is witnessing to the power of love that God has instilled in creation.
Jesus’ healings are always more than physical demonstrations of power. They are also about reconciliation as found in Luke 7:50; 8:48; and 18:42. In each healing story, the point is more than just physical healing, but also restoration into community.
Jesus healed the alienated and sick and sent out his disciples on ministries of healing. James 5:14–16 call us to pray for and anoint the sick, that they may be healed. “14 Is anyone among you ill? He should summon the elders of the church, and they should pray for him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up—and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness. (NET Bible)”
We, disciples, are merely servants. We have hard work to do. When we do that hard work, we do not place God in debt to us and we deserve no special gratitude or payment. The demands of discipleship are hard. There is hard work to be done. We best get to it.