Usually every Wednesday when my wife has cell and I’m at home with my daughter, I can have a friend over. My housemate always wonders who it’s going to be, because it is inevitably someone, and it’s always fun to have company.
I feel loved. I feel cared for when someone wants to come over and hang out with me and my daughter. And she feels loved to when you hold her and stop her some crying. Almost invariably, someone asks me “how’s fatherhood going?”
There are two ways to answer that question: first, it’s really hard. Sometimes she is fussy and doesn’t eat too well. Other times, she won’t sleep unless she’s right on top of me. Sometimes she tries to climb out of her carrier. Sometimes she wakes up in the middle of night and is upset and won’t go back to sleep. I’ve had to rearrange my schedule to take care of her. And she freaked me out for the first month of her life because I was neurotically checking that she was gaining wait since she was born so light.
But on the other hand, it’s going pretty great. It feels natural. It feels like something I’m meant to do. It is fulfilling and, in fact, satisfying (at this age, particularly) since she has needs that can be met fairly easy (hunger, wet diaper, fatigue, wanted to be swayed around or held). It really feels like we are built for raising children (in fact, one of the reasons why human beings can have relatively short gestation periods is because we are bipeds and we have arms with which to hold babies.
Isn’t that what life in Christ is like? Following Jesus is the most natural thing you can do. I actually believe that we are an inclination toward following Him. We are created in such a way that would make following Jesus our normal mode of operation and, in fact, our best mode of operation.
However, much like raising a child, what is natural isn’t always what is easy. In fact, we end up choosing darkness time and again. In fact, a lot of people believe that we are naturally nasty and evil beings and if left to our own devices we would continually choose to be do evil. I’m not sure that’s the case intrinsically, but I think we have a lot stacked up against us.
I think we were created to follow Jesus, but I also think that human history and learned behavior makes that hard, and so we’re in need of some real restoration. The story of Jesus as told by John is all about that redemption, restoration, resurrection, and recreation. God is giving us a chance to follow Him again, to choose Him again. And more than just being forgiven of our sins, we are transformed through his Spirit, so that we are not eternally fighting a battle against of “evil nature,” we are compelled to do good, to hate evil, and to follow God fervently. He kills our old self and gives us a new self to live into.
The incarnation of God, that is the Word become flesh—God became human not just to love us, but also to model behavior. Jesus himself was completely human (and completely God, yes), but we were created in His image, and so image and so we can live a pure life, too, after being transformed and becoming vessels for which His spirit can dwell.
This is exactly what Jesus was saying to Nicodemus in John 3. He tells the great teacher, who is quite puzzled by his statement that we are born again. We are changed. We are transformed. When we accept the gift that is Jesus offer us—the gift of resurrection—we are born again. We are no longer slaves to sin. When Jesus died on the cross, our old selves died with him. We are now instruments of righteousness. We are dead to sin and alive in Jesus.
The power of Jesus’ life of earth and his resurrection is greater than merely forgiving us, it restores us, changes us, and compels us over a lifelong journey to pursue him. It heals us, it purifies us, it makes us sacred. Believe that!
Often times just our difficulty believing that we are indeed made sacred by Jesus is what holds us back from really getting transformed. So often we have to undo all of the stuff that got us to believe the lies about ourselves—and so often, it’s things that we love that did it to us, too! Let Jesus free you.
I believe this process of healing or freeing happens right when we accept Jesus to be our savior, we are forgiven and restored to our creation. I don’t think we magically will choose light every time right after we choose Jesus, but I think we get on a path to that complete transformation.
In the gospel of John, we see Jesus clearly transforming people, healing people, performing miracles that are “clues” to show the world that the Transformer, Savior, and Healer has arrived. The result of this is often personal transformation, healing, and saving. This healing is “soul” healing, and sometimes it’s manifested physically.
Sometimes we are healed when we just have faith and simply believe that Jesus will change us.
Sometimes we get healed when we resist all of the lies that have been told us and get up and follow Him.
And finally, we get healed of our “human condition,” when we let Jesus get close to us.
If the first example, we see faith heal a man’s son.
Jesus was developing something of a reputation for these signs. He was demonstrating things to show the world that he was indeed God Incarnate. These were meant to be clues to help people find Jesus, they weren’t the main events themselves. In fact, Jesus healing us and transforming us are “modern day” signs of His Glory. Jesus heals to bring glory to God. If we are serving Jesus to glorify ourselves, we really haven’t been healed of anything.
The man approaches Jesus and begs him to heal his son. And to Jesus himself, it would appear like it’s better to first believe before seeing (in fact, later on the book of John, after His resurrection, he tells the very same thing to his disciple, Thomas). The anxious father can’t help but do anything but ask again.
Jesus wants us to believe in Him. He wants the royal official to believe that His son is healed through faith, and through nothing else. We are transformed by believing in Jesus and accepting his gift. Jesus’ point is that he doesn’t need to venture up the hills back to Capernaum to heal his son, he’s bring a truth that
Jesus, probably taking pity on the individual, and heals his son from a distance. I think his son gets healed right when Jesus says he does, but the beauty of the passage and the important thing to notice is that the line that John writes about the man’s faith. “The man took Jesus at his word.”
I think that’s the moment where the man himself gets healed. It’s amazing, taking Jesus at his word, saves the man. Taking Jesus at His word saves us, and it develops us, and changes us. The man left the meeting with Jesus changed before he even saw evidence that what he said worked.
And so for us, I hope we can actually believe in what Jesus tells us. I hope we can believe that He has the power to heal us. Believe that he can change you, and look around you, and observe the transformed people around you—there are numerous signs of Jesus’ ability to heal and be changed.
This is hard, because the man asks Jesus to be healed—and it appears like he simply has to believe that Jesus can heal him to get there. Is that enough for you? Pray that you might have faith that God can restore you completely.