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Jesus answered,
“It was not that this man sinned,
or his parents,
 that the works of God might be displayed in him.
John 9:3 ESV

[FROM THE PUBLISHER: As the world continues its struggle in adjustment to a new routine dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic, His Own Heart Ministries continues to pray for your health and safety. We are also striving to bring you uplifting and soul-care oriented posts from some of the most prolific, compassionate Christian writers and educators we know. This week, we’re featuring a post from Janice Kempe of Faithful Hearts Ministries.]

Watching the news, I am realizing a crazy thing.  First Century Israel had an infectious disease inflicting a lot of people. Leprosy. Communities tried to isolate the disease by sending the sick away and forbidding them any contact with others. People wrapped cloths around their faces to contain the illness and kept social distance by announcing themselves loudly as being “unclean.”  The afflicted were suddenly out of work, no family, and homeless. Hopeless. Sound familiar? Can you imagine an epidemic like we are experiencing only with no medical help and no aid of any kind?

Although the Covid-19 virus is scary and isolating, at least we have ways to connect with others. First Century folks were all alone in their fear and their suffering, yet their stories are recorded in the gospels. Why? These sick folks, venturing into crowds of people just to see Jesus as a last hope for healing and wholeness, bring a message to us. [In John 9,] the Disciples asked Jesus once about a man who was born blind. “Whose fault is this?  Is it his sin or his parents’ sin?”  Jesus told them that the blindness wasn’t about fault or sin. This man was born blind so that Jesus would be known. The incidents of Jesus’ healing were signs so that people would know who He was. How can we use our present crisis to help people recognize who he is?

Torah – [the first five books of the Bible] – taught that if an unclean person entered a room of clean people, all became contaminated (hence extensive purity rituals). Dirty contaminates clean. Jesus (being clean) went into unclean situations and the unclean became clean by his presence. Read that again…  Jesus’ presence made the unclean clean, a total paradigm shift!  That’s radical!  It was hard for people to believe, so he showed them again and again by healing the sick and raising dead people. It’s the Gospel message, isn’t it? What I LOVE is that you don’t see Jesus avoiding, but welcoming and even touching the outcasts. Uncleanness and Illness are natural human conditions…not necessarily punishments. Our uncleanness and illnesses don’t contaminate him, but his presence in our lives declares us clean.

Jesus didn’t have to do social distancing like we do. He’s Lord. He touched and healed. We can’t do that, but we can share his presence as we obey our authorities, model safe behavior and continue to love others. Jesus accepted the sick, entered into their space, and brought healing and wholeness…then and still now. Some healing is physical. Some is more than that. We need to live well and keep praying. Perhaps this pandemic is a reminder that nothing is new under the sun, and that Jesus has beaten death and offers us freedom from our own sin. That’s good news!!