“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Two stories about Jesus, healing, and disability

There are two particularly interesting passages related to Jesus' healings in the Gospels. They seem to reveal at least an aspect of His perspective on persons with disabilities.

The first is Mark 10:46-50. This is the story of Bartimaeus a man who was blind. We are told that when Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was passing by, he began to shout "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus tells his followers to call him. When he came to Jesus, He asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" That is an interesting question from Jesus. Because He had healed people, everyone in the crowd knew what the man wanted, no doubt including Jesus, yet he asks the question. Now we learn later after Bartimaeus says, "Rabbi, I want to see" that Jesus tells him, "Go, your faith has healed you" meaning that he was a man of faith. This is critical. A man who already has faith in Jesus, comes to him asking for mercy. Perhaps Jesus sees that he already has the most important thing, his faith, and that is why he asks what he wants.

In contrast, we can look at Mark 2:1-12 the story of the paralytic who is lowered through the roof. Interestingly, the passage says in verse 5, "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.'" He doesn't comment on the paralytic's faith as the reason for the forgiveness of his sins but rather on the faith of those who brought him. This raises many questions about this interaction and how it occurred. Did his friends just take him or did he want to see Jesus? Clearly the friends were men of faith. But Jesus doesn't ask him or his friends what he wants. He sees their faith and says to him your sins are forgiven. Now once again, it seems obvious, perhaps, why his friends brought him to Jesus. Maybe they were trying to develop his faith, but more likely they wanted Jesus to heal him of his paraplegia. The healing itself also appears to be the result of the thoughts of the teachers of the law who were present questioning Jesus' authority, not specifically because of the man or his friends. It is also noteworthy that the man once healed later in the story, doesn't say anything. He just got up, took his mat and walked out.

In both of these stories of interactions between Jesus and a person with a disability, it appears that LIKE ANYONE ELSE, the critical factor is their faith.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think that faith is a concept that is very underrated. When tough times come around, it is easy to become discouraged and rely on our own strength. I recently had an encounter with an individual with a disability who exuded faith more than anyone I have ever met. More than anyone, he has every right to be mad at the world but chooses faith instead. We sat down and started talking and he told me “I used to be a really bad person.” I don’t believe this because in the short time I have known him he has proven to be very down to earth. He proceeded to tell me that, years ago he was in an accident that left him with brain damage. I noticed he has trouble with simple skills such as walking, talking and writing. He told me that he got intoxicated at a bar, took a car, and accidently drove himself over a cliff. His life has been drastically changed since the accident. The doctors thought he wasn’t going to walk or talk ever again. While listening to all of this I kept wondering how anyone would be able to handle the situation in the same manner he does. Despite the trauma and struggle he had to face he shows up to the disability ministry at church every Sunday smiling. His story proved to me how powerful faith can be. After hearing his story I agree more than ever that faith is critical to everyone- including people with disabilities.