- Matthew 8:1-4
- Psalms 30:2
- Luke 5:12-16
There is a popular fast-food chain that has tried to raise the bar for service in their industry. It starts with a simple phrase. At the end of each customer interaction, you don’t hear, “You’re welcome,” “No problem,” or a grunt in your general direction. Instead, you hear these two words: “My pleasure.” I might not seem like a big deal on the surface, but that little phrase has helped establish a culture of hospitality and service in an industry where the focus is often on other things. “My pleasure.” It implies joy in serving rather than obligation or duty. Hang on to that little phrase for a minute.
Whenever we talk about healing, inevitably questions come up about God’s will. I’m going to lay it out their right from the start and unpack it further as we go, but hear this: IT IS NEVER GOD’S WILL THAT YOU ARE SICK. YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN WANTS YOU WELL! I know I’m shouting but I want that to come across loud and clear because many of us have subtly been taught things quite the contrary. We are taught to pray things like, “If it is your will God, please heal my friend.” or “Lord please heal Grandma, but not our will but yours be done.” One of my professors in seminary would even say, “We don’t want to write checks we can’t cash when we pray for people. These kind of prayers often leave us wrestling, wondering why sometimes maybe it is God’s will and other times it isn’t.” I understand the point. It is important to take care in what we say on God’s behalf. We don’t want to promise anything God has not already promised. What I am learning, however, is that praying boldly and with expectation that God will heal can be well within the bounds of good care. Reading the healing stories in scripture, you can’t find any case when Jesus turned someone away who came to him for healing. He healed them, and I would make the case that it is always God’s will that be be whole. You might even say it is God’s pleasure to make it so.
In our reading for today we read Matthew and Luke’s version of the same story. It says,
2Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” 3Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. (Matthew 8:2-3)
It isn’t really a question the man is asking Jesus. He’s not questioning whether or not it Jesus wants to heal him, he is making a proclamation that Jesus can. Jesus wants to, he can, and he does. The word we often get hung up on is, will or willing. We wonder if God is willing or not. But lets look at that word for just a minute. In the ancient manuscripts where this story comes from, the Greek word for willing is θελω (thel’-o), defined below.
θελω 1) to will, have in mind, intend 1a) to be resolved or determined, to purpose 1b) to desire, to wish 1c) to love 1c1) to like to do a thing, be fond of doing 1d) to take delight in, have pleasure
Did you catch that? Jesus says, “I am willing.” which is another way of saying, “My pleasure.” Not only can God heal us, but it is actually God’s joy to do so. God has it in mind to do so. God is resolved and purposeful about it. God desires to, loves to and even delights to. No matter how you define it, it brings God pleasure to make his children well. We pray, “God heal us!” to which he responds, “My pleasure.”
There is certainly much more to be said about this, but I will hit the pause button here for today to allow each of us to meditate on this for a bit. God is willing and it brings him pleasure to heal.