This Christmas, we're talking about the one thing that the world needs from Jesus - and it's different for everyone, according to their circumstances. We've started by looking this week at some of the physical concerns that persons brought to Jesus, the very real physical healings that they needed in their lives. And whether we share these physical ailments or not, we can relate to the effects of them in our own life.
Today, we look at one more sense of physical healing that the crowds brought to Jesus, and that is their overall wellness.
Here, we're thinking about stories like those of the lepers and the bleeding woman. These men and women were outcasts of society, unable to participate in the things that others took for granted every day. Unable to go to the market and pick up the essentials that they needed. Unable to go to the Temple and worship. Unable to be even with their families, lest their uncleanness spread to those they love most.
Jesus encounters ten lepers, and He heals them all. A woman who has been bleeding for twelve years pushes through the crowds just to touch His robe; she is also healed. We hear them say things like, "I just want to be clean," but that's not exactly it - they want to be whole.
They want to be able to live in their own bodies, to take care of their own selves. They want to be able to do all of the little things that everyone else does without a second thought. They want to be in the crowds that are pressing toward Jesus without having to think about what they are risking to be there.
That woman? That bleeding woman? Every single time someone brushed against even the edge of her clothing, she knew...she knew she was making them unclean. She felt her own disgustingness all the more heavily with every step she took toward Jesus. Those lepers, standing in the presence of such purity, felt their own disease as the heaviest weight. They shouldn't have been there, and they knew it.
They were supposed to just stay on the edges of society forever. How could they do otherwise?
Except for Jesus.
There are many among us who are trapped in their own bodies, stuck in their own lives. They wrestle with physical ailments, sometimes mental illnesses, sometimes the effects of the broken lives they've either been forced to live or chosen to live. They don't get up every day like everyone else and think about what the day has to offer; their life is so limited, it's not even worth dreaming any more. There are those who can't just go to the store and pick up the things that they need, can't just go to a church and worship, can't even be with their families because the burden is simply too great ( or so they think ).
Maybe we're talking about someone in a wheelchair who can't attend an event because it's upstairs and there is no elevator. Or who can't go to a relative's house because the hallways are not wide enough. Maybe we're talking about someone with crushing anxiety who can barely take two steps out of her house because the world just feels so big. Maybe it's someone with depression, who can't even see a reason to try. Maybe we're talking about someone with Crohn's disease, who is unable to be too far from a reasonable restroom facility. Or someone with allergies for whom the world is one big reaction waiting to happen.
There are all kinds of things that go wrong with our bodies that leave us feeling trapped in them, especially in a world that doesn't always recognize or accommodate what our limitations might be. Or worse, judges us for them.
If this is the case, then the one thing we really need Jesus to be, the one thing that would change our hearts toward Him for real, is Healer.
How good for us, then, that He is exactly this.
He comes to us, we come to Him. We push through the crowds, and He reaches over them for just a chance to touch us, to take away our burden, to heal our broken bodies. He can, and He does.
Because He is here. Immanuel.