“The thought of performing miracles came back to mind. Jesus healed the sick, calmed storms, fed thousands of hungry people, and turned water into wine. These were the kinds of things that had come to mind the night that I’d considered what Jesus might have done had he been on the corner of Second and Broadway in Nashville. And I admit, it would be great to be able to perform drive-by miracles, to remove a girl’s birthmark, to heal a man’s cancer, to put a large sum of money in a homeless man’s pocket, to give a childless woman a son or daughter… Who wouldn’t want wonder-working magic in their back pocket, or special powers they could use at will when needed?
But then, I took a moment and re-imagined that downtown Nashville scenario a different way. On that night months ago, when the pedestrian light turned green and those two masses of people began crossing, what would it have meant if I had simply stepped off the curb and onto the street with the intent of being a neighbor to each one of those people coming towards me? Without respect to race, religion, age, history, sexual preference, political party, or any other condition, what if I had been determined to be a neighbor to each and every person?
Even if I had removed the girl’s birthmark, healed the man’s cancer, resourced the homeless man, and given the woman a child, the basic fact of human existence would have remained unchanged. We are all faced with physical imperfections and life circumstances that are subject to change. One day, each of us will die by disease or some other hand, and none of us will have escaped our human journey without an unfulfilled longing, a wound, or suffering. That’s just the way it is and always will be. There is a frightening impermanence woven into the mosaic of human existence. The only thing we can know for sure is that whatever it is (our relationships, health, finances, job) it will change, and there’s no escaping that reality at the core of our journey.
Every human being on this planet has layers. Gender, race, ethnicity, personality, scripts, roles, religion, politics, education, net worth, achievements, appearance, wounds, imperfections, brokenness, patterns of thinking and behaving… But, once you peel back these layers, at the core of every one of us is a human being who desires to be seen and wants love, acceptance, understanding, compassion, empathy, and validation. No matter how bad life gets, if these essential needs are fulfilled, there is a basis for moving forward and living another day. I could see how this was the secret to Jesus’ ministry—he freely, liberally, and unconditionally gave what people needed and desired most. It was the miracle that changed and transformed people’s lives.
For all the people Jesus healed, there were an endless number of people he did not. Even those he did heal eventually grew sick and died. When I went back and reread the gospels, I began to see these miraculous acts of Jesus from a different perspective.”
– Jim Palmer, Being Jesus in Nashville