Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

   and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

then shall the lame man leap like aa deer,

   and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

For waters break forth in the wilderness,

   and streams in the desert.

Isaiah 35: 5, 6

This is a description of some of the healing that Christ’s presence in our world brings about. Although Jesus did demonstrate physical healing of the sorts described here, He did much more than that while He lived as a man with us. In addition to all of this, He promises a form of healing in the future when He returns again that will include all of this plus something far greater. Yet, even now, when the restoration of creation exists in an incomplete form, we do enjoy the restorative and strengthening touch of the Lord in our souls, upon our hearts, and in our bodies. Isaiah was speaking about captive people who were going to be set free from the oppression of their enemies, and he was also describing aspects of God’s even greater plan that would be set in motion in Jesus so that all people could know freedom from our universal captivity to sin and be launched forth into the fullness of life that comes to us only by and through God’s approval and acceptance.

In reality all of us are blind, deaf, lame, and unable to speak. We may or we may not be experiencing some aspects of any combination of these conditions in our bodies, but every single person who is born upon this earth is afflicted with the limitations and the restrictions upon our mobility, in our ability to communicate, and in the understanding that our minds and our hearts allow us, and these conditions are so profound and pervasive that humanity, itself, is severely handicapped in its ability to live in peace, with grace for others, and in a state wherein the marvelous resources that God has granted to us on earth are being used to provide flourishing for all of the globe’s inhabitants. These ideas are not just fanciful dreams or concepts that have no place in a world where people hold that there are supposed to be some who have great wealth and power and others who are not ordained to be in possession of the basic commodities of life. They have traction and resonance in the halls and streets of God’s Kingdom come, and they should have the same presence in our hearts and minds, too.

The vision that Isaiah sets forth will not be fully realized until Christ returns again to overthrow all of the evil in this world and return everything to its original state of perfection. Yet, Christ has come, and He has already set His people free from all that binds our hands and hearts so that we are capable of engaging in doing the work of restoration and care that is so badly needed in our world today. We may not be able to make water flow freely and naturally in the desert places of our world, but we can bring the skill to drill fresh water wells in fever plagued places. Our hands might not hold the power to restore mobility to those who have lost it, but we can share our knowledge and training in setting broken bones and fixing shattered bodies with people who do not know hope or have the ability to dream about a life that is better than mere daily survival. So, until that day when Christ does come to us again in the flesh, those of us who do know Him are called upon by our Lord to be the ones who seek out the blind, the deaf, the lame, and the voiceless so that we can enter into their pain and suffering with them in the name of Christ. We are to be their protectors, their encouragers, and people who love them all with grace, mercy, and respectful acceptance as the language that Christ grants to us to use in leading others into the freedom of the soul that comes as the greatest gift from God through Christ. 

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

John 15: 13 (NASB)

 

Jesus said this, and we know what He meant by this statement. He would be going to His untimely death in order to provide the sacrifice that sin demanded for the sakes of each and every one of His followers and for all of us throughout the balance of history, too. God holds this strange view of humanity, despite our antagonism toward Him or even our overt rejection of His love, truth, justice, and call to engage in righteous living, God, the Lord of Creation and Ruler of the Universe, is our friend. This is a hard concept to embrace for most of us. When we say the word friend we each probably call to mind certain images and thoughts. Friend is very important to some, and it is vague and unformed for others. God’s idea of what it means to be a friend is very deep and powerful. He literally means that He did give up life in order to bring about the salvation of millions of people that He views as His friends.

 

This idea of salvation carries with it some important aspects as well, for we are saved from spiritual death for sure, but we are also saved into a relationship with God that begins at the moment of acceptance of this gift that we know as Christ, and it cotinues onward for all of the unending duration of the eternal existence of our souls. Here is where I make a bit of a left turn when it comes to considering what Jesus said. This is that strange moment when my GPS tells me to make that unexplained and frankly impossible change in direction as it says, “Turn right (or left)” when there is nothing but air and precipitous drop-off in that direction. Well, I think that my thoughts are sounder than that electronic lunacy. It seems to me that Jesus is also speaking to each and every one of us regarding the way that we care about and for others. Christ would have us adopt the wildly radical concept that our worlds are populated by people that we need to consider to be friends.

 

He also would have us enter into those relationships, whether deep and long-established or of shorter duration and shallower, with the sort of commitment and even passionate desire to serve the needs of these others that He demonstrated in His willingness to give His life for each of us. We encounter friends with every turn of the road throughout all of our days. We also pass by and bounce off of people with needs and hurts and brokenness that need love and care. Jesus wants for us to open our eyes, be available to hear stories, give of our hearts and our resources to meet those needs. In Christ, we have more than we will ever need in this life, and we certainly possess more than will be required to engage with people’s lives and help them with what they need to get through the day. For the most part people do not need our wealth or our possessions, they are dying for a listening ear, suffering alone when a companion for the journey would ease the burden greatly. People need friends who will set aside the urgency of their lives in order to walk a mile with them. We join Christ in laying down life in order to save when we see the people that we encounter as He does; that is, as friends.

For Pete, Hollie, Barry and Tracie you know what I mean.