The beautiful work of art was donated to us by Jan Hearn. It shows Jesus, the Great Physician, cradling and consoling a Coronavirus patient who is wrapped in all the flags of the world. It is a tribute to an original piece by Arte Cardé (warning: this artist's work is not family friendly).
The Coronavirus pandemic has received a fair share of coverage in conservative Christian media, a lot of which has focused on the idea of God sending plagues as a wake-up call to an unrepentant world – as well as a conspiracy theory about biological warfare which is not supported by science. While it is certainly true that the Bible contains the above accounts, it’s equally if not more true that one of the primary ways God reveals Himself in Sacred Scripture is as a healer, culminating in the person of Jesus Christ as the Great Physician.
Here are some Bible verses which remind us that our loving Father desires to bring healing to our fallen and broken world:
‘It is He who forgives all your guilt,
who heals every one of your diseases,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with love and compassion…’ (Psalm 103: 3-4)
‘Go back and say to Hezekiah, prince of My people, “The LORD, the God of David your ancestor, says this: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will cure you…” (2 Kings 20: 5)
‘But look, I will hasten their recovery and their cure; I will cure them and let them know peace and security in full measure.’ (Jeremiah 33: 6)
‘Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in My arms; But they did not know that I healed them.’ (Hosea 11: 3)
‘But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.’ (Malachi 3: 20)
‘“But I will heal him, and console him, I will comfort him to the full, both him and his afflicted fellows, bringing praise to their lips. Peace, peace to far and near, I will indeed heal him,” says the LORD.’ (Isaiah 57: 18-19)
In the Gospels, our God comes to earth as a human being, and His earthly ministry is marked by innumerable works of healing. The accounts of His life devote considerable time to describing this; here are just a few examples:
‘He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people. His fame spread throughout Syria, and those who were suffering from diseases and painful complaints of one kind or another…were all brought to Him, and He cured them.’ (Matthew 5: 23-24)
‘Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told Him about her straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.’ (Mark 1: 30-31)
‘…as He stepped ashore He saw a large crowd; and He took pity on them and healed their sick.’ (Matthew 14: 14)
‘“No doubt you will quote Me the saying, ‘Physician, heal yourself’…”’ (Luke 4: 23)
Of all of these it is perhaps John’s Gospel which concludes the most beautifully:
‘There were many other things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written.’ (John 21: 25)
As fallen human beings, though, we’re often so reluctant to believe that a Holy God could possibly feel sorry for us or want to help us – which might account for the overtly negative readings of Scripture mentioned at the beginning of the post. We can see this same doubt present in the people who saw Our Lord face to face, as Mark’s account of the healing of the leper shows:
‘A leper came to Him and pleaded on his knees: “If you want to,” he said, “you can cure me.” Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him. “Of course I want to!” He said. “Be cured!”’ (Mark 1: 40-41)
It’s interesting to note that some translations read that Jesus was ‘indignant’ – presumably that the man would doubt God’s good intentions toward him. As Christians, we’re often all too quick to believe that God is looking to punish us, but we struggle to believe that He desires to see His children happy, whole and well.
In her book, Prove it! Jesus, the American Catholic writer Amy Welborn addresses the common misconception that Jesus performed miracles as a means of proving His divinity. Were this the case, He surely wouldn’t have frequently followed such works of healing by urging the person to ‘say nothing to anyone’ (Mark 1: 44). Rather, contends Welborn, Jesus healed people because of His divinity. Through His incarnation He brought the kingdom – or reign – of God to earth, and where God reigns: ‘the blind see again, and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life...’ (Matthew 11: 4).
With all of this in mind, you may like to use the following prayer this week:
I truly believe that You are the Great Physician
And that anything I ask in Your Name, your Father will do.
With a heart full of faith I ask you now
To renew your Reign over our world
That those suffering from Coronavirus may be healed
And the dead be raised to life
And that the blind may see
That You alone are the One, eternal cure for all sickness and death
I ask this in Your Almighty Name
By Lucy Stothard