Matthew 8:14-17 (NIV) When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.
When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.”
A good part of Jesus’ ministry focused on healing and casting out demons. It was not a stand-alone ministry, but a positive sign that the kingdom of God, which was the core of His message, had come to earth in His person. Jesus was not only holy, but whole – full of what the Jewish people called “shalom.” This wholeness shone into the darkness with unmistakable light. It touched brokenness with health and healing, and sent evil scurrying for cover. Jesus didn’t just heal, He communicated physical shalom. He didn’t just raise people from the dead, He communicated life to them.
Many, perhaps most, people, though, could see only that Jesus could meet their needs. And so they came to Him for what He could do for them. They can be excused for their lack of understanding. No one like Jesus had ever come before. Their only models to compare Jesus to had been miracle working prophets like Elijah and Elisha, who were flawed men, but through whom God did amazing things.
Even Jesus’ own followers missed the significance of what He was doing until after His resurrection and ascension. John did the best job of putting it into words: In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:4-5 NIV)
People today still stand in awe of all that Jesus could do, and read with a healthy doubt of skepticism His words, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12 NIV) The key is Jesus’ statement that He is going to the Father which, as He states in the next paragraph, will enable the sending of the Holy Spirit who will live in Jesus’ followers, communicating to our hearts the whole presence of the godhead (cf. John 14:16-20). The indwelling Holy Spirit brings the same shalom into our hearts and lives that Jesus had – not just holiness, but wholeness – a wholeness that lights up the darkness, that communicates wholeness into lives around us that are broken, and that sends evil scurrying for cover.
Father, we seem to live so far below what You have made possible through the reality of Your Spirit living in us. I think part of that is that we know ourselves, our own brokenness and limitations, and we have bought into the notion that we can only experience real wholeness after we die. But Jesus showed us what real shalom in every area of a life looks like. And with the same Holy Spirit filling us that filled Him, we can not only experience that shame holiness and wholeness in ourselves, we can also bring it into contact with the brokenness, bitterness, and darkness that is present in the lives around us in the same way that Jesus did. Help us to understand this in the very depths of our hearts, and to trust You to do the work in us, so that our lives become a living witness to who You are, and what You have done. Amen.