SUNDAY’S READINGS | July 3, 2022
Jesus sends 70 of his disciples out into the world to announce his peace and the arrival of God’s kingdom: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’” (Luke 10:5). This common greeting carries with it in this instance the implied “peace that passes all understanding,” which comes only from receiving and knowing Christ. “Say to them, ‘The kingdom has come near to you’” (Luke 10:9).
Jesus Christ is the “king of glory, king of peace,” and he awaits the heart’s full and open embrace. It is no shame, then, to say, as did poet George Herbert, “I will love thee, I will sing thee, I will praise thee, I will move thee, I will bring thee.” Through an envoy of disciples, Jesus knocks at the door of our homes and the hidden chamber of our hearts. Moreover, the disciples are agents of Christ’s healing. “Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there” (Luke 10:8-9). The peaceable kingdom of Christ is a place of wholeness, respite, solace, and healing. We are invited to listen to this Word and receive it.
On the one hand, we are those sent out to announce and heal. Such a ministry calls for a “spirit of gentleness,” a capacity to discern another’s burden and to know when that burden may be shared and when it may not (Gal. 6:1). “Bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). “All must carry their own loads” (Gal. 6:5). Doing this work, we “sow to the Spirit,” relying utterly on the direction and providence of God. We go on doing what is right and press on in hope and humility when right is not clear. Always, we announce the peace of Christ, the arrival of the kingdom, and we offer healing in word and deed. Again and again, we will be stretched and challenged by this work, delighted by apparent success at times in conquering demons, and humbled by missteps, misfortune, and mistakes. Failure may even help, purging our desires until with “pure affection” our ministry becomes God’s ministry, fitted precisely to person and circumstance.
On the other hand, we are the recipients, those awaiting a word of comfort, hoping that healing may come. The messenger of Christ’s good news and the agent of Christ’s healing touch may be anyone or anything. We do not set the terms and conditions. We wait, in hope and humility. Like Naaman, commander of the king of Aram, we may be surprised at the source of our healing and its terms. Naaman’s wife hears from her captive servant girl that there is a prophet in Israel who can heal Naaman of his leprosy. Naaman, traveling with a letter of recommendation and gifts from the king of Aram, goes to Israel. Eventually, he meets the prophet Elisha, who tells him to go wash in the Jordan seven times. Naaman is outraged. “I thought that for me he would surely come out and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy!” (2 Kgs. 5:11).
He protests that he could have washed in the rivers of Damascus. Though ill, he wants to set the terms of his healing, and with that willful obstinance, he remains diseased. Only as he submits to God’s appointed prophet and prescribed action is he finally healed.
Jesus, the Great Physician, may come to us in ways unexpected. Can we be open? Can we be surprised? Has he not already spoken to us and healed us by alien rhetoric and strange physics, coming at an unknown hour?
Look It Up: Psalm 30:2-3
Think About It: Healing is a rescue from death.