Sabeel: New issue of Cornerstone
Sabeel’s regular topic-oriented newsletter focuses on health under occupation
“Faith and Health,” by Naim Ateek
We know from the Gospels that Jesus was concerned about people’s health. “Jesus went throughout Galilee teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people” (Matthew 4:23). This emphasis on teaching and healing is clear in the Gospels. Healing the sick was also a sign of the coming messianic age.
Jesus exercised healing through various ways. At times he pronounced the word and healing resulted whether in the presence of the sick person or in his/her absence (Matthew 12:9-14; Luke 7:1-10). At other times Jesus laid his hand and touched the person (Matthew 8:14-15). Healing was also achieved when the sick person touched Jesus (Mark 5:25-29). More than once Jesus attributed healing to the faith of the person by saying, “Go, yourfaith has made you well” (Mark 10:46-52), the inference being that there is a relationship between people’s faith and their physical and psychological health.
I believe there is an important theological implication in Jesus’ ministry of healing. God wills that human beings should enjoy health of body, mind, and spirit. However, due to the state of our human nature (biblically “the Fall”) our bodies are subject to weakness, disease, suffering, and eventually death. In other words, God’s will for us is health, wholeness, and life, but our human condition reflects our frailty and mortality.
When Jesus was restoring health to the sick and infirm, he was, in effect, fulfilling God’s will for humans.