On your Mark
The yes and not yet of healing
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees,
“If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus
reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”
Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. (Mark 1:40-42, NIV)
I am a missionary kid from northwest China and Tibet. One of
my earliest memories is of beggars on the street — toes, fingers and
noses eaten away by the dread disease of leprosy. I never saw any of them
healed, although I have witnessed other types of healing.
This leper who came to Jesus had a double whammy: the
illness itself and the isolation caused by the illness. His disease reduced him
to the position of outcast and separated him from friends, family and
community. Luke, the doctor, notes this man was “full of leprosy” (Luke 5:12,
KJV), a diagnosis that put him in the latter stages of deterioration.
If he had a wife, had she remarried? If a father, were his
children calling someone else “Daddy”? Or, if he had a family, were they still
hoping against hope for some miracle of disease arrest?
For sure, Jesus was the leper’s last hope. Without healing,
his disease inevitably led to a lonely death. He only asked Jesus to make him
“clean.” He asked not for a restorative miracle of lost body parts, but for a
complete end to the progression of the disease so that a priest, functioning by
Old Testament law, could declare him able again to return to society.
Here’s the mystery for us. Individuals we know have also
come to Jesus for healing and have not yet been cured. How is it that the Lord
has compassion for this leper, but others are not healed? Why doesn’t the Lord
say to all, “I am willing”?
Kathryn Kuhlman once said that is the first question she
will ask the Lord on the other side.
Perhaps if the Lord healed all, there would be nothing left
for us to do. Would we be motivated to care for the poor, the sick and the
dying? Although Jesus is full of compassion, would our compassion be empty?
I certainly do not understand the mysteries here. Maybe our
problem is that we are too quick to universalize the experience of one; to say,
“Well, Lord, if You did it for one then You should do the same for all.” That
attitude keeps us from rejoicing for the one who has been healed.
I was in a Kathryn Kuhlman meeting once when a student of
mine was healed of a broken toe and another young friend of mine with a fatal
illness was not healed. I found it hard to rejoice with the one who had been
While we don’t understand why some are healed now and others
are not, we do know as believers that in a short time the hand of Jesus will
touch us all with life immortal. Let’s rejoice in the healing grace given to
some now, and rejoice also that a complete healing lies ahead for all who put
their faith in Christ.
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies
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