Jesus simply can’t help himself. Over and over in the Gospels we find Jesus leaving a wake of physical restoration. Blind people see. Lame people walk. Lepers are made clean. And dead people draw breath again.
Jesus hates sin, but not just because he is holy. Jesus hates sin because he hates what it does to the people he loves: his creation whom he called “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Although the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), Jesus hates death with every fiber of his incarnate being. He hates sickness, suffering, and pain of every kind. During his three years of ministry, Jesus was often moved with compassion toward those who were suffering. He wept when Lazarus died, and then raised him back to life (John 11). This tells us so much about our Savior. It reveals a loving God with a heart broken over our pain, our loss, and our suffering.
But Jesus isn’t here right now, and yet our suffering still remains.
Last week I spent a few days in New York City. Like any other city, there is no shortage of people on the streets asking for money. This is nothing new. Every city has beggars. Eventually you become numb to them. Every day, droves of people walk briskly by dirty people with signs and coffers. Sometimes we give, but usually we just pass by.
One afternoon while attempting to walk behind some local friends on a busy street, I saw someone in need. He looked like he’d been pulled right out of the Gospels and set on a New York City sidewalk. He sat motionless on a small chair. I’m not sure how old he was because he was so severally burned. His scarring made age impossible to determine. He had no hair. No eyebrows. No eyelids. No nose. Both of his hands had been amputated and between his scarred stumps he held his coffer. Due to the number of people, my friends didn’t see him and they were getting ahead of me. But I couldn’t just pass by.
“Jesus would restore this man if he were here,” I thought to myself as I made my way over to him, fumbling for my wallet, “Jesus would give this man what he needs.”
But Jesus wasn’t there to heal him, it was just me—and I’m a sorry substitute for the Savior. I’ve never wanted to be Jesus more in my life than when I was approaching this man.
What would you say to someone like this, in the middle of a moving crowd, when you only have a brief moment? Nothing seems right and I didn’t have time to think about it. So I placed the money in his container and laid my hand on a scarred nub where his used to be.
“This too will be made new, friend. The resurrection and the life hasn’t forgotten… He is coming for you.”
Were those the right words to say? Honestly, I don’t know. But those are the words I said to him and those words are what I believe for him and for you.
After our brief encounter, I hurried to catch up with the others while feeling the weight of my radical deficiency. And I still feel it today.
Scripture gives us a glimpse into what Jesus did on a much grander scale (John 21:25). We see his miracles and are filled with hope and awe.
We cling to this truth: Jesus is a promise-keeping, God-man who is reconciling all things to himself.
But we’re not Jesus, and Jesus is all we have to offer.
What we have to give away is a Jesus who waits a little longer to make all things new (Revelation 21:5). But Jesus does not wait with a blind eye. He waits with a broken heart. He sees all of our pain and suffering. None of it escapes him, and our day of reckoning draws near.
In the meantime, Jesus sends broken fools with a fistful of dollars, and a word of promise:
“The resurrection and the life hasn’t forgotten… He is coming for you.”