Wednesday, 12 December 2012

12th December 2012

Wherever Jesus travelled teaching about the coming of God's reign, suffering people came seeking his help. Whether afflicted with sickness, infirmity, mental torment or social rejection, they came with their needs and those of others, having exhausted the possibility of help from others. He asks them personally about their need and acts both to make them well, to restore them to their proper place in the community.

In one case he challenges the view that sickness and affliction are caused by sin. He's asked about the cause of affliction to someone blind from birth: "Who sinned, this man or his parents?" Jesus replies "He was born blind so that God's power might be displayed in curing him." Blaming anyone for birth blindness has no place alongside this. Whether giving sight to the blind is achieved miraculously, or the latest eye surgery, it's still a revelation of divine creative power at work through compassionate action. Jesus speaks of God's reign coming in terms of outcomes with an impact on human lives.

"Are you the one to come or are we to look for another?" ask John's disciples. "Go and tell John what you hear and see - the blind recover their sight, the lame walk, lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the poor are brought the Good News ..." is Jesus' response. Look what's going on, he says. He doesn't invite them to look at himself. He points to God at work. In a real sense it doesn't matter whether good things happen through his agency or that of others. His ministry has a catalytic effect, stimulating countless people down the centuries to find practical healing solutions in meeting the need of others, carrying on what Jesus reveals possible by his actions.

Jesus' ministry comes to its climax as he willingly endures rejection and suffers death on the cross revealing loving compassion and forgiveness as the ultimate healing power, confirming God's victory over evil, over Hell and Satan/the Devil. This is a definitive moment in human history. Jesus reveals what is possible, what needs to be done in practice to overcome evil with good. This continues with many others throughout history being willing to suffer and give their lives defending justice and truth, unmasking and overcoming the destructive power of evil, and in compassionate service to others. The way of Jesus is not to destroy but to redeem and transform what sin distorts and impairs, to make something creative happen in place of what is destructive.

The work he did, he commissioned his disciples to continue, to enable God's will to be done 'on earth as in heaven'. When Christians look for Jesus' coming, they will recognise Him in any actions and outcomes which overcome evil with good, which heal and transform, which bring freedom justice and peace to the suffering - wherever this world is made a better place. 

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