I always imagine Jesus as kind of like a rock star.
Here you have this famous person who can do things that nobody else can, and the word has got out. Naturally, people flock to see Him. He is constantly surrounded by all kinds of people. They press upon Him, asking for healing or blessing or just a word of teaching. People will take anything He offers and still want more. They just want to be near Him.
His disciples, a decent sized entourage in and of themselves, are with Him, trying to manage the crowd. If someone wanted to speak to Jesus, it must have been difficult to even get in front of Him. The woman cursed with bleeding knew she could only hope to touch his cloak. Zaccheus had to climb a tree just to get a glimpse of Him. I’m sure Jesus was aware of the commotion surrounding Him, and how desperate people were for His attention. He knew that no matter how many people He healed, more could come. No matter how much he taught, people would keep following to keep listening.
The more He gives, the larger the crowd grows, and more people line up to be healed. And the more people see these miracles, the word spreads to the edges of the crowd; brothers nudge their sisters toward the Healer. Fathers pick up their sons and carry them forward to Jesus. I imagine that after a few hours of people stepping forward, Jesus’ human body would begin to grow weary, or hungry, or he was ready to go to the next place, or, you know, maybe He needed to go to the bathroom. At some point, wouldn’t it have been easier for him to touch a shoulder and the healing would be instataneous? Touch a forehead and disordered thinking is banished. Touch a cheek and hearing is restored. Touch a back and a spine is straightened. At some point I can see Him handing out these healings quickly, just to get through the crowd and be able to move on to the next without giving much regard to who he was healing. Much like a celebrity signing autographs.
But Jesus was not a rock star.
Matthew 8 shows a much different Jesus than what I imagine. The scripture says that Jesus had a large crowd following him and a leper knelt before Him and said, “Lord if you are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus reached out His hand and said, “I am willing; be made clean.”
I am willing. Jesus could have healed the leper without a word. He could have told the man to take an offering to the temple and ask for healing there. He could have simply passed the man by. What he did, though, was affirm the man’s spirit and dignity. I am willing. What kind of thrill was it for the leper to hear those words? “I am willing; be made clean.” The healing happened in a moment, but the affirmation, I am willing, stays with the healed man for a lifetime. For the rest of his life, the man gets to tell his friends about the time when Jesus looked him in the eye and said, “I am willing; be made clean.” Wow. Can you imagine?
But that’s not the only way that Jesus challenges my celebrity image. Matthew 8 tells the story of a centurian at Capernaum who told Jesus about a servant who was suffering. “I will come to him,” Jesus said. This is so significant. Here is the Son of God, who has so much teaching and healing and ministry to do that people are waiting for Him pretty much everywhere He goes. Here is a man who is so sought after, He often times can’t even find a quiet place for His disciples and himself to rest. When the centurion told Jesus about his servant’s suffering, I’m sure there were people all around Him waiting, thinking “Get in line, dude.” Yet, here is Jesus telling the centurion, I will come to him.
He was not too busy. He was not too important. Jesus did not dispatch one of His disciples to go see about this servant, though he could have. He heard about the servant’s agony and his response was, I will come to him. The scripture goes on to say that the centurian said that Jesus did not have to go to the servant. He could speak the words and the servant would be healed. Jesus was impressed by the centurion’s faith, and the servant was healed.
Then Jesus went to the home of Peter. While there, Jesus saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. It struck me as interesting that Peter, who by this time has seen Jesus perform healing after healing, does not ask Jesus to cure his mother-in-law. Or, maybe he did and the scripture just doesn’t include that detail. Matthew writes that Jesus saw her lying in bed, and He touched her hand, and the fever left her. Then she got up and served Him.
Sometimes people are healed because they present themselves before the Lord. Sometimes they are healed because someone else presents their need to the Lord. Sometimes the Lord comes to us in our suffering with no plea from ourselves or others. But what does not change is that He is willing. He will come to us.
I’ll be honest. I have been waiting for healing for my husband for a very long time. I’ve wondered what the hold-up is. I’ve considered whether Jesus was off doing more noteworthy things like curing a child of a terminal disease or delivering a starving, oppressed people from a violent regime. Those things are important and miraculous. But Jesus is not a celebrity who is too busy. And when it happens is not nearly as important as that it does happen. Last time I checked, none of the people who receiving healing looked at Jesus and said, “What took you so long?” He is not going to absentmindedly put His hand on my husband and heal him as He passes by just to get him out of His way. He is going look John fully in the face, considering the whole of who he is and His love for him, and He is going to say, I am willing.
And, friend, He will do it for you, too.