In today’s Bible reading* we see stories of Jesus healing and restoring people. But he doesn’t just heal everyone. And He doesn’t restore everyone.
A key factor in Jesus’ healing ministry was the faith of the one requesting the healing. The leper asked Jesus to make him clean, to remove his leprosy. He simply knelt before Jesus and said, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” (Matthew 8:2, CSB) He was well aware of his need. And he was well aware that Jesus could heal him, if He only would.
Leprosy is a highly contagious disease. Under the Mosaic Law, lepers were sent outside the camp, away from friends and family. Unless or until they were certified by a priest as having recovered, they never again saw their loved ones.
Jesus reached out and touched the leper. In doing so, He made himself ritually unclean. And in doing so, he risked becoming leprous Himself. Jesus healed the man with His touch.
We don’t know anything about the paralytic, only his friends. Perhaps he asked his friends to take him to Jesus. We aren’t told. But I doubt that he did. It’s striking that Jesus healed him because of his friends’ faith.
But Jesus didn’t heal everyone. In fact, elsewhere (not in today’s readings) Mark tells us that Jesus was unable to heal more than a few people because of their lack of faith. (Mark 6:5-6)
The Tax Collectors and Pharisees
In several passages, we see the Pharisees asking Jesus’ Disciples why Jesus associated with tax collectors and sinners. It reminds us of Jesus’ parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee going to the Temple to pray. (Luke 18:9–14) In the story, the Pharisee proudly thanked God that he wasn’t like the tax collector. Jesus concluded that story, saying that the humble tax collector left the Temple justified and the Pharisee didn’t.
The Pharisees believed that they were better than everyone else. They felt that associating with tax collectors and other “sinners” would defile them. The inference was that because Jesus and His Disciples associated with these sinners, He and His Disciples were also defiled. The Pharisees were just as sin-sick as the “sinners”, but they didn’t know it. Because they didn’t acknowledge their sin, they didn’t see their need for forgiveness and restoration into a right relationship with God.
Jesus didn’t associate with sinners in order to affirm them in their sin. He associated with them to call them to repentance. (Luke 5:32)
Jesus heals and restores. But He doesn’t heal and restore everyone. Only those acknowledging their need for healing and forgiveness.
We see that those who recognized their need came to Jesus in faith and went away healed and restored. However, those who didn’t believe died in their sin. The Pharisees didn’t see their sin, therefore, they didn’t see their need for forgiveness. They didn’t see their need for a Savior. They didn’t see themselves as sick and in need of a doctor to heal them of their sickness.
Do you realize that you are a sin-sick individual? Have you acknowledged that you need a Savior?
* Chapters covered in today’s reading: