Religious people can be so quick to judge. Maybe because they so badly need to affirm their fragile righteousness, I don’t know. What I do know is that Jesus wasn’t like that.
When I watch hurting, sinful people come to Jesus, I am amazed to see the gentleness with which he treats them.
There was a leper, a social outcast, doomed to die of a progressive, disfiguring illness, who came to Jesus and said, “If you want to, you can heal me.” Jesus, the Bible records, touched the flesh of this diseased man and said, “I want to. Be whole.” And he was.
Mary Magdalene, from what we can discover, was a wealthy heiress who was tormented. The demons of her past and present completely controlled her. Jesus set her free, and gradually, as she spent time listening to his teaching and following him, she was healed from the inside out. Did you know that this Mary was the first to see Jesus after his resurrection?
Blind people came to him and went away seeing. Friends and relatives carried cripples to him. He was their friend. He never turned them away or rejected them. Instead, in his presence they were healed. Rich-robed leaders seeking to fill an inner emptiness came to talk with Jesus. So did ragged beggars.
One lady was dragged to Jesus. You know the story. Earlier that morning she had been surprised in the arms of her lover, and hauled in front of Jesus while he was teaching in the temple. “Should we stone her for adultery?” the Pharisees sneered, hoping to expose Jesus’ legendary mercy.
“Let the one among you who is without sin cast the first stone,” Jesus replied. And when they had all slunk away, one by one, Jesus knelt down to where the woman was crouching. “Where are your accusers?” he asked.
“Gone,” she said.
“Then I don’t pronounce sentence upon you either,” he told her.
As she got up to leave, I can see him touching her sleeve, as if to give her a final healing word. “Go,” he said, “and sin no more.”
What gentleness! What love! Without compromising right standards of living, Jesus had communicated an incredible amount about how much God loves us, aches for us, longs for us, and gently calls us to paths of wholeness and wholesomeness. No self-righteousness here, not even from the only One who has any right to the term “self-righteous.” Just compassion.
I can see us taking a step or two back from this radical Healer. You’re too messed up. I don’t want to associate with you, we might think about this woman. Our Jesus wore an everyday robe that he washed out in the creeks, and a pair of plain leather sandals. He didn’t feel the need to preserve his “space” or reputation or social standing. All these he sacrificed so he could reach out to the people who really needed him. So that he might touch them.
Do you need him? Do you feel messed up or ashamed or confused or lonely or just plain tired of it all? You are his kind of person. Jesus knows your pain, and reaches out a strong and friendly hand, and says to you, “Come to me, all you who are weak and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
No matter what, friends, we need to be like Jesus. Let someone else play the religious game. For us it is getting to know this Jesus, and then being his hands to reach out in our communities to the hurting and struggling. Some of those who are hurting and struggling live in nice homes and drive BMWs. Others live in apartments and have barely enough for the coming month’s rent.
If we serve a Healer, then we are called to be a healing people, unafraid of pain, even our own. We know that through his love and working in our midst, that ancient healing touch of the Living Jesus will touch again. With power.
Source joyful heart