It must have been brutal to have been one of those people who showed up to be healed by Jesus only to find out that he had just left the area. In Luke 4, after Jesus had healed Peter’s mother in law and many others he left and went off to be alone. The crowds, anxious to have him continue the amazing works he had been doing, pursued him and tried to convince him to stay. How many people hoped that this might be the answer to their prayers for healing only to be disappointed? How many people travelled some distance to get there and see him only to find out he was gone. When asked to stay, Jesus denied their request. He had come to teach, he said, and must go to others. How do we reckon with the painful reality that Jesus would not stay and heal the broken? How do we deal with fact that Jesus does not answer many of our prayers for healing and other good things? Didn’t he care?
The answer is, of course he cared and continues to care. In fact, he cared so much, that he could not stay. For, were he to stay and merely heal everyones physical ailments he would ultimately be doing those he loved a disservice. He would cause them only to see him as a great wonder worker. He would cause them to value him only in as much as he could attend to their immediate felt needs (as important as many of them were, to be sure). He would in, a real and dangerous sense, be training us to cling to this life. No, Jesus had come to bring an infinitely greater healing than anything his audience could imagine, one which the whole world needed to hear about; a healing that all his miracles only pointed to as signs point to an unimaginable destination. Yes Jesus cared. He cared so much that he was willing to do whatever it took to secure that ultimate healing even if it meant leaving and going to the cross. The one who does that is one we can trust even when he denies our requests. For, one day we will be raised from the dead and all our diseases will be absolutely and completely healed because Jesus left that place and made his way to Golgatha. And many of those who were once so disappointed will on that day fall before him and thank him for leaving.