Why God Heals Some and Not Others
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Please pause this audio and read John 11:1-45.
I am going to give you a possible reason why it is that God heals some people and doesn’t heal others. First let me ask you some questions.
Would you want to live in a place where there are no jerks allowed? Would you want to live in a place where justice is observed; where mercy is the order of the day, where live is no longer a struggle, and where all your needs are taken care of? Who wouldn’t? Yes, who wouldn’t!
This is the promise of God for us. It is the promise of what happens when we die, for those who believe. “Death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more…” is what the Scriptures tell us. It is what the martyrs believed and made them so willing to die. It is what St. John used as his argument in Revelation to communities that were undergoing persecution at the hands of the Roman state. The entire Book of Revelation is about the fact that the context of our lives is that life after death for those who believe is better than life itself.
If we were to read the Gospel from today, with the context that life is not in God’s hands and that Jesus is not God, then we would be indignant at Jesus’ anger in front of Lazarus’ tomb in the midst of all the crying people. Jesus would seem rude, tone deaf, and obtuse.
Jesus is angry. In fact, he is so angry that he is physically moved to tears from his anger. There can only be one answer as to why he is angry.
Let’s review the text for evidence. It will tell us why Jesus is angry and why God doesn’t heal everyone.
- In Chapter 10, Jesus says, “I and the Father are one” and the leaders want to kill him because of blasphemy.
- Chapter 11 begins and Lazarus dies.
- Jesus says Lazarus’ death is to glorify God, v.4
- He stays two days longer after Lazarus’ death before he says he is going to wake Lazarus, v. 6 and 11.
- Jesus says he was glad that he wasn’t there to heal Lazarus so that people would come to believe, v. 15
- Jesus says that even when we die, we live when we are in him, v. 25
- Martha says she believes, v. 27
- Just before he raises Lazarus, Jesus says, “Did I not tell you if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?” V. 40
- Jesus prays to the Father out loud, “on account of the people standing by that they may believe”, v. 42
- Lazarus is raised from the dead, v. 43-44
- Many of the people believed, v. 45
In John 20:31, the Gospel writer says that these things were written so that we would come to believe. Jesus tells Nicodemus in the Garden late at night that “whosever believes in him has life in him.” The purpose of Jesus coming late to the death of Lazarus was for the purpose of raising Lazarus from the dead so that people would see the glory of God and believe.
The frustration of Christ in John 11 is because those closest to him are still warning the Presence of God in their midst to not roll away a stone because they think the body is still going to stink. The understanding that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in total control of life is not there. The understanding that death leads to a better existence for those who believe is not there. Everything that Jesus has been doing is not there. The whole purpose for his coming to earth, which is to bring about the Second Coming and its new heaven and new earth, is not understood. As the one who has come to lead people to this Good News that is not lived out, let alone believed and trusted, is frustrating.
It would be right to think Jesus is inappropriate when he cries out of anger and frustration IF we continue to think that this life is all that there is. We do that. We operationally function like holding on to this life is all that there is to anything. That is why we get mad at Jesus when he doesn’t heal us. We, like Martha and Mary, are constantly asking the question, “Lord, why didn’t you heal him? If you had been here, he would not have died.” So, what? If Lazarus had not died, then Jesus could not have raised him. If Jesus had not raised him, then the people would not have believed. If the people had not believed, then the leaders would not have killed Jesus. If Jesus had not been killed on the Cross, then we would not have an entry into paradise with God when we die. If Jesus had not been killed on the Cross, there would not be a resurrection. If there is no resurrection, then there would not be a new heaven and a new earth. If there is no new heaven and new earth then death still exists; crying still exists, mourning still exists, we still fail, jerks rule the economy, government, and social life, justice takes a back seat, mercy is scoffed at, we still struggle to meet our needs, we still get sick, we still get old, etc., etc.
Why do we want to cling to this life when we are promised something better?
If we valued the world according to what God is doing in it, then death has a whole different meaning. New Orleans funerals begin to make sense. Jesus staying an extra two days before he comes to bring Lazarus back from the dead so that Lazarus can witness Jesus’ death then makes no sense. That is, unless, there is a purpose to bringing someone back from a better life in the hands of God. In this case, the purpose is that others would believe, follow Christ, and have eternal life in the bosom of the Father themselves.
It was sentimentality that caused Bible translators to translate “Jesus wept” as if Jesus were sad that Lazarus was in the tomb. This sentimentality caused all kinds of weird notions of what happens to us when we get to heaven creep into our thoughts. Whatever you think the afterlife is, it is better. Whatever you thought death is like, it may be a lot of things, but it is not to be feared. Death is the process that leads us to eternal life. When we, as the people of God, lose that perspective, then it frustrates the message of the Gospel. It frustrates the purposes of God.
The reason some people are healed and others are not is for two very wonderful reasons. The first reason, meaning he allows us to die, is that the Father wants us to be with him without all the hard facts of life. The second reason, meaning why he may want to heal us, would be to elicit belief from someone else. People suffer because we live in the world, but think of all those people who suffer and die. Being in the hands of the Father for eternity is a wonderful thing after a life of hardship. The Lord hears the cry of the poor, blessed be the Lord.
So, being alive is good. Being alive forever is great.
How do we need to change our understanding of how we order our everyday life if this life is not the best life we are going to get? How do we need to change our understanding of death to fit how the Father is operating in the world? How do we change our understanding of our funeral, our will, our vocation, our career, our way we handle a spill on our favorite suit or dress, our interaction with the neighbor who holds to his property rights like he can take them to the grave with him? We know better.
Once again, the Gospel of John has all the great passages which tell us what is going on, “For God so loved the world that he sent his son….into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him….so that believing you may have life in his name….[because] He is the Resurrection and the Life; the one who believes in him, though they die, yet shall they live.”
Take stock of all this. Make the necessary changes. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2017.
Mark Kurowski, M.Div.