(This is the first in a short series of posts taken from a hospital chapel message on Luke 17:11-19.)
May I be a little vulnerable? I don’t like Bible stories about healing. I’m a hospital chaplain, after all. And I see people who aren’t restored to physical health. And often, as the “official” spiritual person in the room, I can’t simply speak and have them get well, the way that Jesus could.
I’d love to. But I can’t.
So when I read the healing stories in the Bible, the times that Jesus heals, the times that the disciples heal, I feel inadequate to explain God’s ways. Why were those people healed so quickly and many of us are not?
But I don’t think Jesus lives this story to teach us a formula about healing. This is not about being healed if you have enough faith. Because everyone in the story is healed. This is not about being healed if you have enough gratitude. Because everyone in the story is healed.
This is about getting a chance to approach Jesus when we don’t think there’s a chance.
And it’s not a parable, a story made up by Jesus to make a point. It’s a real story with real people to give us a glimpse of how real people respond. The story doesn’t approve or disapprove of what people do, it simply describes what happens.
Let’s unpack the story.
Jesus was traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem. And it went right along the border of two bad parts of town. Or two great parts of town. I mean, everyone has part of town you avoid. It’s just that different groups have different parts.
This story happens in the borderlands, where we’re not sure where we stand. There are lots of mixed up and mixed together stories in the borderlands. And in the borderland of disease, people who wouldn’t otherwise be together are together.