Genesis 32:22-32 | Acts 9:1-9 | John 20:19-23
We are now in the season of the resurrection (I'm not talking about the Church calendar!). A post-Easter world, in which the curtain has been torn, the stone has been rolled away and the gates have been lifted. So why is it that we still live in a world that is so evidently broken by sin, and why are there still imperfections that have not been overcome by this awesome Gospel truth?
I invite you to look at the three passages that I’ve suggested for reading. These for me sum up the paradox. Jacob meets with God, wrestles with him and comes away with a broken hip. Saul witnesses the resurrected Christ and comes away from it blinded by the experience. And Thomas, like Paul, encounters the resurrected Jesus and recognises him by his wounds.
At Easter we are told of the new creation that is waiting for us, and with it a wholeness that only Jesus can bring. But salvation is not about being saved from the world, it is about being saved for the world, since we are called to follow the God who became humanity for the world. So how can we reconcile a world that is still at odds with itself, and with this Easter faith?
It shouldn’t surprise us that in our desire to follow Christ, whose ministry led directly to Calvary, we are likely to first experience a breach before we encounter healing. For Jacob, the injury to his hip from wrestling with God, was preparation for the healing and reconciliation he would later find with his brother, and with God. For Saul, the loss of sight was a counter to the healing and reconciliation he would later find for himself, without this, he would otherwise be held back by his history. And the passage from John’s gospel reminds us that Christ’s resurrected body still exhibited the scars of his crucifixion. Which might teach us that in our own resurrection, all that we have suffered will aid us in our partaking in Christ’s glory.
These passages teach us that ‘wholeness and healing’ in a Christlike sense is not the same as wholeness and healing in a worldly sense. Christ did not setup a trauma centre or an accident and emergency tent outside Jerusalem. Rather he met the reality of our brokenness by joining us in our brokenness. You’ll remember that he said “I am the resurrection and the life” after weeping over the death of Lazarus. You’ll remember that he sweated blood, whilst agonizing over his path to the cross. Christ’s way is not the easy way.
So, does that mean we shouldn’t ask for healing in prayer for human ailments, does this mean we shouldn’t request cures for all that harms or deters us from life? No, of course not. Jesus healed the sick, and through his faith we can find wholeness despite being confronted by things that we would otherwise have no control over. But what these passages teach us is that God can still be found in the hurt, the pain, the injury and the ache. Leonard Cohen wrote:
Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
In the pain and the hurt of the world, in which we will all feel and share at some point in our lives, we pray that a new perspective of God is found, and our faith is made more real in the knowledge that Jesus suffered with us, and our prayer for wholeness might ultimately honour his suffering, and the suffering of the world he loves.
May the life and blessing of this Easter season be with you.
Revd Jeremy Putnam.
A collection of thoughts and reflections from the people of All Saints.