THERE IS NOTHING more fundamental to the Christian faith than the belief that God heals. Whether it is through the grace of conversion, the soothing of grief or even the deliverance from death through resurrection, Christians have always placed their faith in a God who, through Jesus, has compassion on his people and works to bring them healing and wholeness.
The Gospel of Mark, which we will be hearing on Sundays this year, is full of stories about Jesus healing people. He gives sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. He casts out demons that torment innocent children. He heals a woman with a hemorrhage and a man from his paralysis. In all, Mark features more than a dozen of these “mighty deeds” of Jesus—about one fourth of his Gospel is about them.
That such stories should fill so much space in the shortest of the four Gospels can only mean that Mark considered them very significant. This may seem obvious. Clearly, we might say, they are important because they demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah who has power to heal and cast out demons. It’s true—this is part of the reason Mark includes such stories in his Gospel. But if that were the whole point of the stories, one or two of them would undoubtedly have sufficed to make it. So, why are there so many mighty deeds in Mark? What do they mean—for him and for us?