“And He said to him, ‘Rise and go. Your faith has made you whole.’” Luke 17:19
There’s a great difference in biblical terms between being healed and being made whole. The statement above is Jesus’ final words to the one leper who returned to thank Him for being healed. You recall ten were healed, but only this “foreigner” (v. 18) came back to express his gratitude. Jesus then drew the distinction. He noted in verse 17 that ten had been healed (from which we get the English word catharsis). Only this man was “made whole.”
The word can be translated as “saved,” as in Christian salvation, but that is not what Jesus meant here. The basic meaning of the word is to be delivered or rescued. Yes, it can refer to being rescued from spiritual death, but in this passage we are definitely to understand the contrast between healing and being made whole. The leper had taken another step beyond healing.
Let’s look at it this way. Healing happens to many people, in fact most people, not merely in the physical sense of surviving a disease, but in the spiritual sense of benefitting from God’s manifold grace. Thus all ten lepers enjoyed the benefit of being free of a disease. So all of us enjoy a certain default grace from God. That is His nature. He “graces” us all.
But do even 10% of us make the connection between healing and wholeness? Probably not. Most people take for granted the healing that comes in an infinite variety of ways, and fail to take the next step of genuine gratitude and devotion to God. Many are healed, few are made whole. Actually, the chief purpose of GraceWaves is to alert you to God’s grace so that you can move toward wholeness. Very few people are aware. I want you to be one of them.
So, what about you? Are you healed? Or made whole? Better yet, how can you make the transition?
First, wholeness means a deeper commitment to God, a more constant awareness of the indwelling Christ. “Every good gift comes from above, from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). Stop attributing blessings to your own skill or good fortune. You are deeply loved by a heavenly Father who knows how to give good gifts to you. He has. Be devoted to Him.
Second, begin seeing yourself as the leper. What I mean here, is that sometimes your inability to draw close to God results from not recognizing your need for healing. Think about it this way: who are your biblical role models? Most might choose John, or Paul, even Peter. But they choose these characters in their redeemed best. It’s far better to relate to their weakness and need, not just to their triumph.
Recently, someone close to me said she had a new role model, Mary Magdalene. She told me that Mary had seven demons and may have even been a prostitute, but became extraordinarily close to Jesus. She identified with Mary’s struggle, her need for grace, and identified with that same need. That dawning realization brought her closer to Jesus. That’s being made whole.
We do far better to see ourselves in Mary, or in the prodigal, or even Paul with his thorn, rather than imagining ourselves to be great spiritual giants. You are not, and the sooner you realize a basic and enduring need for grace, the closer you move to wholeness. Trust me, God loves that attitude. That is why Jesus “ate with sinners” and why they felt so comfortable around Him. Mary’s tender gratitude brought her so close to Jesus that she was the last one at the cross, the first one to the tomb, the first to see Him raised, the first to proclaim the resurrection. It all started with a healing (seven demons exorcised) and quickly moved toward wholeness (an enduring devotion to Christ).
So every time you feel a special moment of grace in your life, turn back to Jesus. Thank Him for the healing, limp a little closer, and grow in your devotion to Him. Let “the things of this world” dim a bit more. And hear Him say “you are made whole.”
Dr. Terry Ellis