Jesus came to save for the sake of relationship. All of salvation history is motivated by God’s desire to restore relationship with the men and women he created and loves. I think we see this in just about every paragraph of the Gospels. But my eyes have been opened only recently to see this aspect of salvation in the reasons Jesus heals.

Our Lord tells the disciples of John the Baptist to pay attention to what’s happening in the world now that Jesus has come:

“The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” ~Luke 7:22

(By the way, Jesus puts preaching in the same category as healing the blind and raising the dead? Did you notice that? I notice that every time.)

Let me remind you that a man with leprosy was not allowed in the temple. If you were blind or lame, if you were deaf or mute, if you were bleeding, if you had a skin disease, you could not enter the temple. You could not approach the presence of God. You couldn’t worship God in his holiest place with his holy people. To those afflicted with these imperfections, the presence of God was off limits. Relationship with God and relationship with his people was impossible.

But when Jesus heals them…

See, Jesus is doing much more than just restoring sight to the blind and causing the crippled to walk. Jesus is allowing these people he touched to get past the bouncers at the temple doors. He makes it possible to approach God. That’s why Jesus saves: for relationship. They were unable to come to God, so God in Christ comes to them.

Jesus is Emmanuel. God with us. With all our sins and mixed motivations and limitations, we can’t come to God. That’s why God comes to us. That’s why he heals us. He makes us clean and whole, he gives us his own righteousness so we can bask in his holy presence. Jesus saves for the sake of relationship.