Cure the Sick
Luke 10: 9 | By Amy Schenkel
I have spent quite a bit of time wondering about the contemporary relevance of the command in Luke 10 to “cure the sick” as a missionary practice. As I walk through my neighborhood, am I supposed to knock on doors and see if anyone has a cold so I can pray for them? Or is “sick” an analogy for anything that is broken? For example, like communities where hatred and injustices cause division and despair? Beyond understanding how to cure the sick, I want to understand why Jesus included this as an important missionary practice for the church.
Sometimes insight into a Scripture passage comes from unlikely places. In this case, the ‘ah-ha moment’ came from an article about research done by an agnostic journalist on why Christians often approach her in public places and pray that God would heal her physical blindness This sometimes happens without prompting! These experiences left her feeling “judged as faulty and in need of repair.” In her interviews, she was surprised to find that disabled Christians feel the same way. When approached in this way, it makes them feel that in order to be a whole and complete person, they have to get rid of their disability. As a persons with a disability, they feel like they are a less-valued member of society. This does not sound like the message Jesus proclaims in the gospels, so how can we understand “cure the sick” in ministry?
The key, the article's author has found, is understanding the historical context of Jesus' day. She writes, “Jesus was operating at a time when being disabled meant being poor, unemployed, and excluded from mainstream society.” If you were blind, you were excluded from entering the temple and being part of the community of faith (John 9). If you were crippled, you were destined to beg at the city gates (Acts 3).
Jesus consistently looked out for the people who had been pushed to the margins of society and found ways to value them, include them, and love them. Long before ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and discrimination laws, curing physical disabilities was the way he restored “the sick” to a right place in society where they could fully participate. They were once again able to use the gifts and talents God gave them.
When Jesus commands his followers to cure the sick, he is asking them to see the people who have been cast out to the margins of society. He calls us to love them as people made in the image of God, and to ensure they can fully participate in the community. Restoring people to social dignity is part of the Shalom-giving Jesus’ followers are called to do.
The article’s author was struck by one idea that I believe is at the heart of why Jesus calls us to cure the sick. She writes that “being alive and at peace with yourself while being blind is a bigger miracle than having your sight restored.” I would add, that this peace is found in a right relationship with God. It is evidence of the Kingdom of God. It's a peace that we are called to live and share with others, especially those on the margins of society.
Who are the marginalized people God is asking you to see, love, and restore to social dignity? To whom are you called to share in the peace of God?
Who are the marginalized people God is asking you to see, love, and restore to social dignity, and to share in the peace of God?
Lord, help us to see people as you see them- as image-bearers of God who you have created with unique skills and gifts that can be used to glorify you. We pray that you will help us be bringers of your peace, that the miracle of the peace of God will be known in our communities. In the power of Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
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