Heal By Hurting
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 17:18a (Holman) “As You sent Me into the world, . . .”
The greatest thing that ever happened to Earth was when Jesus came to live here. It all began in the Father’s heart. He saw the infinite calamity which befell, and righteousness and compassion burned in His bosom.
God the Holy saw with repugnance our unholy sin. He was forced to watch His workmanship grind on in discord. God the Lover saw our heartache and sent the Son to heal us. “God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17).
The coming of Jesus altered the course of history. He changed Earth. A new light burst forth among us. Hopes and ideals sprang up. People who came to know Him found in Him everything they desired.
Dante found in Him the subject for a book that made his name immortal. Isaac Watts was inspired by Jesus to pen immortal poems about Him. Charles Wesley was stirred to create melodies of praise about Him. Sculptors, painters, and poets of all nations have found in Him the ultimate inspiration for their works.
Handel was once so overwhelmed by Jesus’ majesty that he felt compelled to write and compose. For twenty-five days he worked in a frenzy putting on paper what was flowing through his soul. Once the “Messiah” was completed, he collapsed in total exhaustion.
People have felt compelled to express their thoughts and feelings about Jesus because they have found in Him the King of Beauty. Christ entered the world and blessed it. He expects us to do the same.
John 17:18b “. . . I also have sent them into the world.”
This was the last time the disciples would be together as a group before the upheaval of Calvary. These were sweet collective moments, but they could not remain here forever.
The Apostles had been gathered and trained that they might scatter throughout the Earth. Their lives were not to be aimless henceforth. They had a definite commission from their Lord.
Jesus’ mission was from the Father to Earth; the disciples’ mission was from Jesus to the world. This is exactly what they did. They marched into a hopeless world as messengers of hope.
When Jesus was born, of the 1,600,000 inhabitants of Rome at least 900,000 were slaves. Within a few generations of Christ, Christian messengers had turned the tide.
And God still yearns for the world to be touched. The Macedonian Cry which came to Paul was not the direct cry of the people of Macedonia, but the cry of the Spirit of God for Macedonia.
God will not force us to go, but still sends us. He yet senses the hurt, pain, and lostness of humanity. He tries to send living messengers to carry the healing of Jesus.
Christ came to bring fullness of life to us, and sends us forth to carry that experience to others. We do not carry to the sin-sick world a doubtful remedy, but rather a life message of assurance.
This worldwide commission is a worthy goal, but the cost is heavy. This is proved in the next verse, where Jesus added to the commission His own example.
John 17:19 “I sanctify Myself for them, so they also may be sanctified by the truth.”
Jesus was talking about setting Himself apart for death. To completely bless the world, Jesus had to completely give Himself as a sacrifice.
Jesus died to save sinners from their sins, and to provide them power to lead lives of service. He set apart Himself to die for us in order that we might set apart our lives to live for Him (and yes, die if need be).
The life we are to live is to be an imitation of Christ’s life. This means we must always live sacrificially. To follow Jesus’ example means to accept inconvenience on behalf of others.
Paul challenged us, “I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God;” (Romans 12:1b). The Apostle practiced what he preached. “My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” (Philippians 3:10).
Take a quick look down Memory Lane. My guess is we will see that almost all the deeds we ever did that were hugely worthwhile involved some kind of a sacrifice on our part.
Only through sacrifice can we ultimately be a blessing. We must share, take part, in the hurts of others. We have to lift and relieve the sufferings of others if we are to help them have a fuller life. What was true of our Master is true of us servants. We heal by hurting. We relieve by absorbing pain. We receive by giving. We find home by going. We find joy by sorrowing. We find victory by suffering. We find resurrection by Calvary; no cross, no crown.
Unfortunately, believers too often know much more about convenience than about consecration. Many of us enjoy efficient religion, as the Scribes did in Jesus’ day. Others are overly concerned with traditions and form, as the Pharisees were. Some spend much time analyzing every new idea that comes along in religion, as the Athenians did. Very few climb their own Golgotha. Not many are willing to live a life of sacrifice on behalf of others.
“Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize
And sailed through bloody seas?” (Isaac Watts)
For the Greeks an ideal person was an elegant thinker; to the Roman, a strong ruler; for many in our day, a master of commerce. To Jesus, the ideal person is one who sacrifices in order to serve others.
Dr. W.E. Sangster wrote of a friend who was a loving Sunday School teacher. He had a boy in his class he had tried again and again to win for Christ, but for some reason the lad had built a wall of resistance. The teacher had been unable to reach him.
When the teacher learned the boy loved and kept guinea pigs, he immediately took up the hobby himself, though in his 60s, to reach the lad’s heart. For the boy’s sake, and for Christ’s sake, he did something he didn’t necessarily enjoy doing.
Modern slave-trading was ended due to the uncompromising Christian statesmanship of Wilbur Wilberforce, and the tireless efforts of missionary David Livingstone. He called it “the open sore of the world.” The missionary explorer spent his adult life discovering passageways into the heart of Africa so missionaries could follow him there with the Gospel.
The Christian world did not respond, but slave traders did. They used his routes, and often claimed to be his sons or brothers in order to win the confidence of native tribes.
Livingstone was so appalled by this state of affairs that he spent the last years of his life fighting this terrible evil. The cost was heavy. He was a stranger to his own family and destroyed his own health.
In our land, the battle against slavery was led by hotheaded Presbyterians like Finney, Beecher, Greeley, and Lovejoy; men who sacrificed reputations, wealth, and even life itself for right.
Arthur Pearson, an Englishman, went permanently blind in 1913. He didn’t have to wonder very long to ponder why such a fate befell him. In the summer of 1914 the first wounded soldiers of World War I were brought from France to London. A young soldier, told he would be forever blind, went into hysterics. In desperation, Arthur Pearson was called.
He quieted the youth and taught him how to lift his spiritual eyes to the everlasting hills. Pearson’s success with this soldier cost him four years of his life. He had to leave all else behind, lay everything aside to help soldiers who lost their eyes for their country. By the war’s end, he had helped 1700 blind veterans learn Braille, master a craft, and become self-supporting.
He helped them defeat hopelessness. He never let a soldier quit. He said to the discouraged, “You know, I’m blind too; we can carry on together.” Pearson became known as “the man who conquered giant despair.” It literally cost him his all, for four years, to help them.
We need saints who will be not only messengers, but also walking messages, looking like personalities transformed and occupied by the self-sacrificing Christ. We need to fuse words about God with a life like God’s.
Are children nearby? Take a little time to bless them. Are there neglected elderly people? Take moments to minister to them. Do any lack food? Take time to feed them.
“The worst enemy of a good cause is he who badly represents it” (Moule). We desperately need saints who will combine goodness, gentleness, and kindness.
One very cold night the preacher Henry Ward Beecher saw a newsboy chilled to the bone, his teeth chattering as he shouted the headlines. Beecher bought all the boy’s papers, and said, “I am afraid you are very cold tonight, my boy.” The lad replied, “I was very cold, Sir, until you came by, but now I am warm.”
Oh God, help us warm a cold, dead world with His light! Let it burn through us.