This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2020 Bible Reading Calendar.
Then a man with leprosy came to him and, on his knees, begged him: “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched him. “I am willing,” he told him. “Be made clean.” ~ Mark 1:40-41
There’s something wrong in the world.
We know this and see this every time something bad happens, including illness. The world is not this way because God made it this way. When the story of creation in Genesis 1-2 was complete, it was summarized with “and God saw it was very good.”
No, the brokenness in the world came because humanity, to whom God gifted dominion over the earth, chose a path of rebellion against God instead of peace with God. The moment that Adam and Eve disobeyed in Genesis 3, what had been very good became infused with evil, corruption, and death.
God cursed the world, but this did not please God. Even when the most evil of men die, God says, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezekiel 33:11).
So, where is God’s delight? In rescuing us from the curse and bringing us out of the darkness of sin and into his marvelous light. When Jesus was baptized, the sky rent and the Holy Spirit descended upon him. Then, the Father spoke from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you, I am well-pleased.”
These words marked the beginning of Jesus’ mission to teach, heal, and march flint-faced toward the cross. These words were the inauguration of Jesus’ ministry to break the curse of sin.
When Jesus, therefore, encountered a symptom of the curse–a man afflicted with a devastating skin disease that caused him also to be an outcast from society–the response was compassion. Jesus did not desire for this man to be sick, and so he healed him.
This is God’s desire for our lives: Not that we would suffer the ill effects of sin, but that we would find healing. This is why the resurrected life, the life of eternal joy, is described as being in a place of no more sickness, pain, or tears.
What about today, though? Especially faced with the many illnesses we see in the world, is not God still moved with compassion. Yes. So, does he not act? He does. God still heals. So, why not heal the whole world?
In God’s sovereign plan, we still live in the time between times. Jesus came, died, and rose to bring healing. But we are still waiting for Jesus to return when he will finally make all evil and its effects come undone. The curse of sin has been undone but it is not yet fully vanished. Paul spoke of this in 1 Corinthians 15 as he describes Christ ruling from his throne, “For he must reign until [the Father] puts all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be abolished is death” (15:24-25).
It is through his army, his church deployed into the world with a message of hope and grace, that Christ is extending his rule over the world as people hear the Gospel, turn from their sins, and find the eternal healing of salvation.
While this mission continues, sickness, pain, and death still fight back. Some experience healing now, but all who trust in Christ will experience healing forever. The compassion of God is very much at work in this world, and if we belong to Jesus, in time, we will experience its full effects.
As we wait, though, God grows us in patience and hope, using even the sufferings from which he does not presently rescue us to make us more like Jesus, so that one day we will experience an even greater glory.
All Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.