The man was a leper. Disfigured. An “untouchable” to others because of the fear of contagion. Jesus, seeing the man, went to him and cradled him in his arms. He kissed the top of his head. When Jesus let the man go, the leprosy was healed. The man’s skin was clear, his body free of the disease.
Although this was a film interpretation of Jesus’ healing of a man with leprosy (Risen, 2016), healing was a natural element of Jesus’ lifework. I’ve known of these biblical accounts of Jesus’ healing work, and have always been grateful for them, recognizing how important they were to those healed and to those witnessing them. And today they reveal to all of us important things about God, who is always cradling us in His loving embrace, and who is the Love Christ Jesus reflected and demonstrated as God’s Son. But never before had I felt how Jesus’ healings were truly outpouring evidence of God’s love. That love was palpable in the way Jesus was represented in the film as responding to the leper. There was no repugnance, no fear. Just the utmost tenderness.
How could Jesus do that? How was Jesus able to cradle and kiss that leper? How could he express that tenderness when what he faced would be quite alarming to most of us?
Mary Baker Eddy provided an answer in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In talking about Jesus’ healing work, she wrote: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick” (pp. 476–477).
God’s tender love, demonstrated through Jesus’ healing works, continues to be available for us today.
This perfect man that Jesus saw is the spiritual idea of man described in the Genesis 1 account of creation. The Bible records that God made man in His own image and likeness, as “very good” (see verses 26, 27, 31). Jesus’ healings revealed these scriptural truths—that the man created by divine Spirit has a spiritual identity and is held forever in God’s ongoing care. And within that image-and-likeness relationship to God, disease—any affliction—is a spiritual impossibility, an unreality.
Jesus’ ministry on earth illustrated the goodness and love of God. Healing was one way that he did this. Jesus taught that God was his Father, and also “Our Father.” In his best-known teaching sermon (see Matthew, chaps. 5–7), he explained how God’s fathering love is expressed in practical ways here on earth—for instance, sending the sun and the rain, providing our daily bread, forgiving us, and keeping us from the temptations of evil. Jesus’ reassurance was that God knows our needs and supplies us with practical on-earth care. Within God’s fathering love and care, there can be no instance of neglect, nor any kind of disease.
Understanding God as the cause and maintainer of His own perfect creation, and himself as the practical expression of God’s fatherly love for all, Jesus was able to challenge whatever didn’t match that reality. He wasn’t afraid of or impressed by disease, malformation, blindness, or anything contrary to our loving Father’s spiritual and perfect creation. The love Jesus manifested to others communicated spiritual reality in such a way that those needing to be healed were healed.
Jesus’ healings were one way he taught others about God’s love. His care and tenderness demonstrated this love and enabled those whom he healed to see themselves differently—as loved and worthy, the way God made them.
We can “cradle” others in the certainty of God’s tender love for them.
God’s tender love and healing power, as demonstrated through Jesus, continues to be available and accessible for us to learn of and demonstrate today. Confirmation of that is in Jesus’ words, “I assure you that the man who believes in me will do the same things that I have done, yes, and he will do even greater things than these” (John 14:12, J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English). This is an authoritative statement assuring us that we, too, can reflect God’s love and “cradle” others in the certainty of God’s tender love for them, as Jesus did.
Our cradling of others includes that same beholding that Jesus did in both recognizing the man that God created and being certain that God’s fathering love is here and now, embracing man and the universe. This accurate spiritual view of others heals.
A friend of mine had a cradling experience. While playing outside, her four-year-old granddaughter stepped into an ant mound. Her foot was covered with ants and then with ant bites. My friend’s daughter, who is a medical nurse, was very concerned and went to the drugstore for a product to ease the pain. My friend was on her way to church when she received a call from her daughter. Hearing about all of this, my friend’s first reaction was to fuss about why this happened to this sweet little girl. She was also angry at the ants.
But then she had a different view, an accurate view, of what was really going on, based on what she knew of God’s fathering love. Her thought changed from anger and irritation to remembering that God loves His creation, including those ants. She mentally cradled everyone and everything in that tender love of God. She knew her granddaughter couldn’t be hurt or hurtful, nor could the ants. There had never been anything but the ongoing harmony of God’s government of the universe and everything within it.
My friend said the change was instantaneous. Her daughter was surprised that there was no evidence of bites, and she never used the medicinal product she had gotten. The little girl, wanting to report the drama of the experience, was puzzled to find that one foot was just like the other—clear and normal. My friend was in awe and very grateful.
An accurate spiritual view always heals. When impelled by love for others, that tenderness of thought acts as a light, enabling others to see themselves as loved by God and to recognize their safety from disease and danger. The outcome is healing.