Jesus Healed the Sick

Health-care reform is an economic, political and medical issue. But On Faith panelist and evangelical leader Jim Wallis says it’s … Continued

Health-care reform is an economic, political and medical issue. But On Faith panelist and evangelical leader Jim Wallis says it’s also a “deeply theological issue, a Biblical issue and a moral issue.” Do you agree? Why or why not?

Jesus didn’t go around telling people that healing the sick was a moral or theological issue; he treated all people who were sick and expected his followers to do likewise. That’s what all decent people need to do right now–make sure everybody gets health care.

That’s why this week it’s religious leaders from different faiths and many perspectives who are standing up to the sleaze-peddling health insurance lobbyists and the lying tweeters and calling for real reform. Faith in Public Life, an interfaith resource center that promotes the common good, and its partners have organized “Forty Days for Health Reform” that begins with a nation-wide conversation with President Obama. In addition, dozens upon dozens of faith groups have been signing on to the project. I am proud to say that I am on the board of Faith in Public Life and we are expecting a huge turnout for this call.

Biblically informed, religious leaders of conscience may be one of the last acts standing when it comes to calling for the kind of reform of health care that Jesus pursued in his life and ministry. Jesus was not about debating whether we should or should not heal the sick; Jesus went ahead and delivered health care directly to people who didn’t have any health care.

Jesus’ healing ministry was absolutely central to his life and ministry. It was what he was best known for. “Jesus went throughout Galilee…curing every disease and every sickness among the people.” (Matt 4:23) Jesus healed the sick and it drew huge crowds to him, not only from Galilee, but also from the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and even beyond the Jordan.

Why did so many sick people follow Jesus to get healed? Because the oppressive Roman Empire had reduced them to poverty and they had no health care.

So many Christians today reduce Jesus’ healing ministry to a metaphor–the conservatives want to say that it’s really about forgiving sin, not about how central to Jesus life and work was taking care of people who are sick. But one of the most important facts about Jesus and the work that he did on earth is that he was a healer. This isn’t a metaphor that means something else. It’s the literal truth.

I cannot speak for the other religious leaders who are organizing for real health care reform, but I can speak for myself. I am tired of the lies. I’m tired of the fear-mongering. Enough of this.

As a Christian, I believe the biblical truth of the matter is that if you don’t take care of the sick and the poor, you are rejecting Jesus himself. “‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you? Then he will answer them, Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'” (Matt 25:44-45)

  • Dermitt

    There were also less sick. Now you have highways and beltways with crashes. You now need helicopters and other high speed stuff. Jesus would have a helicopter. I’m sure of it. Although I just had a six pack of Miller High Life, so I can be talked into about anything. There’s a nice breeze.

  • Athena4

    The Republican answer to health care: when Jesus comes back, you can touch his robe and be healed! Until then, pray that you don’t get sick! Less sick people? You’ve GOT to be kidding me! They had LEPER COLONIES back in Jesus’ day! Entire towns filled with people who had leprosy. Smallpox. Plague. Wounds that would become infected. No antibiotics. Death in childbirth. High infant mortality. All kinds of stuff that Humans have eradicated in the modern era.

  • Paganplace

    Ok, not to divert too much from a very good appeal, but wait just a moment, here:”Why did so many sick people follow Jesus to get healed? Because the oppressive Roman Empire had reduced them to poverty and they had no health care. “Are you implying that Judaea had some kind of public health care system which the sasty ol’ Romans threw in some heap?I just got through talking to someone quoting Leviticus to claim how Hebrew law had *exceptions for how if you were sick and couldn’t afford to pay for the necessary *sacrifices* to pray and hope for the best as the richer ones did, that was there. I’m reminded of ‘Life of brian,’ here. ‘What did the Romans ever do for us, anyway?’Practice of medicine, as we now apparently seem to retroactively take for granted, whatever state it was in at the time, comes to mind.

  • Paganplace

    Rubytuesday:”You can’t have it both ways. You can’t make this a moral issue without committing your time and personal treasure to a real world solution. With that in mind, are the suggestions of the Obama Administration and the Democratic leaders in Congress really the best bang for our health care buck? Because waste is not moral either – even when it is done for a good cause.”Yes.Certainly compared to what we’ve gotten from a long history of people saying, ‘Leave it to the holy and somehow ‘Christian’ ‘invisible hand of the market’ and hope for the best charity of those who are terrified of paying taxes, paying the claims they took money in exorbitant premiums readily-enough for… To somehow compensate for even families and individuals doing *well* being squeezed all but dry for the least services possible, while we’re told it’s ‘Godless Socialism’ not to work for thousands of extra dollars a year to pay for the privilege of someone saying, ‘It’d be unChristian not to make the terminally-ill work for their own cures, not that we can afford to hire them, of course…..’

  • Paganplace

    “Jesus didn’t say “Leave the poor and sick in the hands of Caesar”Did say that about *money,* though, as I recall. Leaving health care in the hands of money in a nation dedicated to not living by ‘Divine Right of Kings’ (despite all the efforts of ‘conservative Christians’ saying that there should be God on money and the government should be ‘Jesus’ Kingdom,’ while of gourse being scandalized at the idea it should ever care for the sick or poor in any way……Sometimes things just look a lot simpler if you aren’t Christian. Thinking like that don’t work, and makes people poorer and sicker. And more susceptible to clamoring for a Caesar of one kind or another to ‘clean up the Republic.’ Sound familiar?

  • Paganplace

    And I have to admit, the irony of the below overwhelms me when the first corporate HMO I ever mischanced to deal with was named….Get this….Kaiser Permanente.

  • gimpi

    “Administering the Social Security system costs the government almost as much as the benefits it pays out to our seniors. The government’s solution to rising retirement costs has NOT been to reduce its administrative costs, but to make our seniors live on less and less. What about this is moral?”Rubytuesday, you are wrong. Social security runs 2-3% administrative costs. Social Security is the single reason why desperate poverty of older people, once virtually the norm, has been almost eliminated. The demographic “baby-boom bubble” notwithstanding, Social Security has, for the most part, been a profound success. When President Bush tried to privatize Social Security, one of the deal-breakers is that administrating the private retirement-accounts of millions of Americans would have driven administrative costs up at least 30% over those current 2-3% levels. Medicare also has a 2-3% administrative cost load. Private insurance runs 30-35%. In part it’s an economies-of-scale issue. And, of course, there’s no need to keep Wall Street happy (or buy your CEO a new jet) to affect your administrative costs. Please try to get your facts right. For some reason, this debate is bringing all kinds of non healthcare-related emotional and political baggage to the table. We don’t need more “death-panel” lies to make it worse.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    All I know is that I was traveling in Italy with a friend who got sick. The ambulance came and took him to the emergency room, and he stayed in the hospital 2 days. It was normal, western, twenty-first century medical care, with doctors and nurses who spoke English. (It is a required language in the medical field in Italy). They took down all his insurance information and all of his passport information, as though to send a bill, but it has been two years and they never sent a bill.If the Italians can do it, then why can’t we? Compared to the way they did thing during my little emergecny, American health care is a mess.

  • MGT2

    Well, well, well…I totally agree with you Susan.

  • rohitcuny

    “That’s why this week it’s religious leaders from different faiths and many perspectives who are standing up to the sleaze-peddling health insurance lobbyists and the lying tweeters and calling for real reform.” But is it really true that health insurance profits are a very large portion of our health costs? I looked on the web and found that their profit margin is only around 6%. If their profits are not where the real costs are, then crying and complaining against them is only a distraction. And for the record, I do favor the public option. But unless American consumers and the health providers (I do not mean health INSURANCE providers) moderate their demands the problem of medical costs is not going to be solved.

  • rohitcuny

    I think people need to consider numbers directly and not the way they are changing. Health insurance companies’ profits have been rising too fast and that is not good. But it cannot be the main problem.Let me illustrate. A family in financial trouble goes to see a financial counselor. In the process of his inquiries, it turns out that the son’s weekly allowance has been raised from $5 per week to $15 per week. “You raised his allowance by 200%! No wonder you are in trouble,” says the counselor.But of course he is wrong. The increase is too large, but even $15 per week is only $780 per year and unless the family is quite poor $780 cannot be a major cause of their financial troubles.The reason it bothers me when people scream at insurance companies is that the latter provide a convenient scapegoat (and they are certainly not innocent) and then we may forget to look at the real causes of the problems.

  • JDSidney

    Separation of Church and StateJesus didn’t say “Leave the poor and sick in the hands of Caesar”We can let the government take all of our responsibilities.

  • rubytues63

    Do we live up to our moral responsibilities by passing them on to a bureaucracy and making them someone else’s problem?Is it moral for a man to pay for his moral responsibilities by digging into another man’s pocket?How many advocates of universal health care have chosen to lead by example, as Jesus did? How many doctors donate ten percent of their time to treat those who can’t pay? How many of the rest of us donate a percentage of what we make to charity hospitals like Saint Jude’s or the hundreds of other lesser known health care providers? How many of us voted to support the last bond election that benefited the local county hospital?You can’t have it both ways. You can’t make this a moral issue without committing your time and personal treasure to a real world solution. With that in mind, are the suggestions of the Obama Administration and the Democratic leaders in Congress really the best bang for our health care buck? Because waste is not moral either – even when it is done for a good cause.The government says it can make a better, more universal health care system by taking what exists and slapping a new layer of bureaucracy on top of it. If that sounds stupid, then maybe that’s because it is. Administering the Social Security system costs the government almost as much as the benefits it pays out to our seniors. The government’s solution to rising retirement costs has NOT been to reduce its administrative costs, but to make our seniors live on less and less. What about this is moral?We have to do better than what is being proposed by Congress. We have to think differently if we are to capture both the moral high ground and be good stewards of the public’s trust and money. Universal health care is not going to be paid by someone else, it’s going to come out of your pocket and it’s not going to be cheap.Being a good steward is moral too. Be careful with whom you label.

  • ccnl1

    Of course getting the flu is not a life style issue although not getting a flu shot when one should is taking a large risk. And said stupidity if it results in doctor/hospital care should automatically increase one’s costs for the care.Ditto for doing other stupid things like not wearing your seat belt or talking on a cell phone while driving.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Yes but……whose going to keep track of all that stuff? the insurance companies? the Federal government? the honor system?

  • persiflage

    CCNL – I work in the healthcare industry and have done so for a good many years – your typical patient is often uneducated, undereducated, or misinformed, or has completely misunderstood what has been told to them by medical professionals. Misinformation is rampant in the healthcare industy if it results in huge medical insurance payouts. In regard to lifestyle choices, I’ve seen countless numbers of monstrously obese patients prowling the hallways of various hospitals that I’ve worked in over the years. We’re talking 300-500 pounds….and this is clearly an early death sentence. Nevertheless, patients are never turned away as regards their healthcare needs. Personally, it’s hard to identify with obesity and other self-destructive habits, but realistically there is no way to cull out folks with bad lifestyle choices, when it comes to healthcare. In fact, this is a societal problem that is way beyond the issue of healthcare per se……Humans need healthcare, and they will expire in due time, despite the best efforts of the healthcare industry. Every effort should be made to prolong the date of expiration.

  • persiflage

    The right-wingers and GOP sympathizers that loudly and obnoxiously oppose healthcare reform are either mis-informed or duped by conservative propaganda designed to undercut the Obama administration …. and these efforts have been going on from day one of his administration, of course. The anti-Obama folks that already have healthcare are apparently so well satisfied with their lot that the 40 million going without are just a bother – a threat to their own smug, medically secure and deeply entitled selves.As for the loud ominous drumbeat of impending socialism – I’ve got news for you. Every society in the West is already socialized to the core. Here in the USA, public services of every kind are paid for out of local, state and federal funds at every level – and/or otherwise subsidized by federal funds. The last frontier is fully socialized universal healthcare, and the fact is this – Medicare and Medicaid, and the VA healthcare system are already fully funded/controlled by state and federal budgets and accompanying regulations – and therefore, are fully socialized. The ‘socialism’ business is a red herring tossed about by huge corporate medical/pharmaceutical interests, their highly paid lobbyists, and their GOP supporters in Washington. The very word ‘socialism’ triggers knee-jerk responses from the underclass that apparently equate it with ‘communism’ – all the while never realizing that they are feeding at the trough of a fully socialized society….and very much liking the deep security provided thereby – and let’s not forget those Social Security benefits while we’re at it. The biggest noisemakers at these public rallys and town hall meetings apparently forget their own deep dependence on the very government services that they would undermine by their efforts, if they only could. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem……

  • US-conscience

    Health care reform is definitely needed, but please dont try to pass a reform bill that couches in tax paid abortions on demand. 90 % of all abortions are a simple life style choice – but the abortion mills and planned parenthood make hundreds of millions a year ( and still get 60 million a year in government grants ) and they are the biggest contributors to politicians. We need health care reform but please dont make me pay for the murder of unborn children.

  • gimpi

    “Universal health care? Yes indeed but there has to be incentives for living a healthy life style.You have posted this on almost every blog, and I must admit to frustration with it. It’s simplistic at best. Remember Jim Fix, the running guru? He suffered a heart attack at a young age. My doctor told me about her sister-in-law who had just been diagnosed with lung cancer. She never smoked a day in her life, and had virtually no second-hand smoke contact. My father was in an industrial accident that ran a drill-bit through his skull. He survived, but with damage to his cognitive function and memory. A good friend of mine passed away from pancreatic cancer this last year. He ate a vegetarian diet, excercised, and didn’t smoke. There is no reason for these incidents. None of these people did anything to cause the tragedy that overtook them. Sh*t happens.I, myself suffer from rhumetoid arthritis, a malfunction of the immune system that causes it to attack healthy tissue. No one knows what causes it. No “healthy lifestyle” will stop it. The highest risk factors for rhumatoid arthritis, lupis, and other serious auto-immune disorders are being female (women have more complicated immune systems,) and having a family member who suffered from them (there MAY be an inherited tendency.) Poor planning on my part, huh? Being born female to a mother who suffered from rhumetoid arthritis. (And, before anyone suggests she shouldn’t have had children, the family connection to auto-immune problems was not known until 20 years ago. I am in my 50’s.)The point I am trying to make here is that life isn’t simple. We all know smokers who live to 90 with no lung problems, overeaters who never gain a pound, and careless people who never have an accident. We also know careful people who are always black-and-blue, constant dieters who can’t lose a pound, and clean-living, non-smoking folks who never draw an easy breath. Why can’t we admit it? Why do we need to judge each other so harshly? None of us are perfect. Why do we hold each other to such impossible standards?Face it, much of the time you just don’t know if someone contributed to their health problems or not. You certainly don’t know if they are “deserving” or not. So let it go. Just help the sick, and remember, no matter how well you live, how careful you are, you WILL get sick. You will need help. Give it, and you can be sure of deserving it when your turn comes, no matter how imperfect you are(And you can get the flu after getting a flu shot. They don’t always take. Or they gave out shots for a different strain than you caught. I know that from personal experience)

  • ccnl1

    Universal health care? Yes indeed but there has to be incentives for living a healthy life style.Bottom line: Those who live healthy life styles should not have to pay for the health care of those who don’t!!!

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    CNNLI know I may regret responding to you, but here goes. Living a healthy “life style” is an admirable goal. We all should do that. But we are all evolved from the lower animals, and we perceive the world and experience our lives “automatically” whether we “think about it” or not. We are alive in the world, and do, act, and react, with our bodies, ready made and given to us, that we do not think about or ponder, but just live.If a person is smart enough to think about living a healthy life style, then that is all to the good. But that is a completely separate problem than caring for the sick.Some people live horribly unhealthy lives, drink, and smoke, and carouse, and they remain healthy. Some people maintain a healthy life style and get sick; they get heart disease, asthma, arthritis, and diseases and infrimities without number. And some people live calm and sedate lives and don’t take up sky-diving or bungie-jumping, but just trip and fall on the steps and smash up their bodies.Are you saying that if someone gets injured in a car wreck and they weren’t wearing their seatbelt, we should leave them suffering and bleeding on the pavement, because it was ll their fault? Like most of your suggestions, it is not very practical. It is not the nature of most people to react like that at the scene of a car wreck.People should stop smoking; people should buckle their seat-belts. But that is a different question than the provision of health care for the tens of millions who currently struggle with it. Even the healthiest person could get the flu. Couldn’t they?

  • ccnl1

    One of the many warnings on cigarette packs sold in Canada:”WARNINGaccompanied by a picture of a human lung detailing cancerous growths.”

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    CCNLDon’t think of “your tax dollars” being wasted on treating someone who has lung cancer from smoking. Afer all, I am not allowed to with-hold “my tax dollars” from a war I don’t agree with, or from government spying programs that I disagree with.Just think of it as money spent on a national health care management, which you are entitle too, part of the cost of overhead to live in an advanced and highly technical society.If you don’t want to participate, then you’re out of luck, because you are born on this earth, without any say about when, where, or why?Otherwise, you can crawl in a hole, lock yourself in a closet, or retreat into the wilderness for premenant camping trip.

  • ccnl1

    Dear Senator and Representative,”Universal health care? Yes indeed but there has to be incentives for living a healthy life style.Bottom line: Those who live healthy life styles should not have to pay for the health care of those who don’t!!!”

  • persiflage

    ‘Healthy Lifestyle’ is in large part a value judgement. We can single out behaviors that are correlated with ill health and shortened life spans, but how do decide ‘who is guilty of what’ and to what degree? Expecting folks to tell the truth about their ‘bad’ behavior realistically rules out questionnaires as a method of screening out ‘high risk’ patients – especially when it comes to qualifying for major entitlement programs, such as national healthcare. And then, personal medical histories are covered by HIPPA and other patient confidentiality laws. It is fair to say that as regards healthcare, those that can afford to pay will probably continue to pay something toward their healthcare based on income – even with a mandatory national healthcare policy in place. This is no different in kind than auto insurance – everyone has to have it to drive legally…..and out of that semi-annual premium, everyone typically pays something into a common state fund for coverage of uninsured motorists in the event of an accident, etc. People that have a clean driving record, free of tickets, accident claims and so forth generally are entitled to reduced premiums. As far as rewarding healthy lifestyle choices, such a scheme may be possible for national health insurance programs as well – although within pretty defined limits. Qualifying for such discounts will probably be complicated. Hyper-expensive care for catastrophic illness will likely be covered by a different set of administrative guidelines. Nursing home placement is yet another component of healthcare, coming under the umbrella of end-of-life care. Currently most people pay for their own assisted living/nursing home care, unless they have special insurance for that purpose, or have divested most all of their personal assets and are covered under Medicaid. Medicare pays for about 100 days of nursing home care. It is likely that any national healthcare program would be modeled after already existing federal and state programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the VHA (Veterans Health Administration). Bottom line – as the world’s largest economy, this country should be able to afford national healthcare for every citizen – most of our modern industrialized neighbors already do so.

  • persiflage

    While CCNL and others like him see punishment for ‘undesirable’ behavior as an integral part of any national healthcare policy, it is to be hoped that most healthcare providers will not entertain that same vision….but will continue to abide by the Hippocratic Oath.Inflicting moral judgement on patients in need has certainly occurred from time to time – but is a clear violation of the spirit and very often the laws that govern healthcare, healthcare providers, and the administration of a wide variety of services related to the healthcare industry. Doing no harm and healing the sick are the primary principles that should govern the provision of all healthcare services. Moral judgements are best left to folks that have no direct influence over the healthcare of others.

  • ccnl1

    Once again some incentives to live a healthy life style and ways to pay for universal health care.1. An added two dollar health insurance tax (or higher) on a pack of cigarettes. Ditto taxes on alcolholic beverages, the higher the alcohol content, the higher the tax. Ditto for any product shown to be unhealthy (e.g. guns, high caloric/fatty foods??)2. Physicals akin to those required for life insurance- the overly obese will pay signficantly more Medicare and universal health insurance (unless the obesity is caused by a medical condition).3. No universal health care coverage for drivers driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or using cell phones while driving.4. And no universal health coverage for drug addicts or for those having self-inflicted STDs.