In this age of controversies over Obama-care, cuts to Social Security, and of “challenges to the NHS,” it is easy to forget that the idea of health and social care provided by the state is a new idea which is essentially less than 100 years old. Before that, it was up to one’s friends and family to provide care when life’s journey turned to the worse.
It is in this context that Abram (Abraham) bemoaned being childless in the Book of Genesis. He had wealth, but lacked the essential element of an heir to care for him and Sarah in old age. Similarly, Elizabeth in Luke chapter 1 is childless but when she becomes pregnant with John says: 25 ‘The Lord has done this for me,’ she said. ‘In these days he has shown his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people.’ In those days one’s reputation and security were in their heirs.
To me one of the most emotional and heartfelt moments in the Bible is found in the crucifixion account of John 19. Jesus despite dying an incredibly terrific and painful death sees His (presumably widowed) mother, and near her His best friend. He in His agony, shows the His fulfillment of His earthly duties as a son, when He says to John “Take care of my mum, Mate (verse 27).”
This expectation of care for one’s parents was cultural, but the compassion in the scene above was from the heart! And, compassion was at the heart of Christ’s message. To love not just Mom and Dad, but your neighbour as yourself. Jesus’ people saw this in Him, and they began to live it themselves. Acts 2 shows us that: “44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people (NIV).” In an age of no social welfare – Christians provided for those in need. That is an act of love.
But ultimately the act of love was shown in Jesus’ own sacrifice: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13 NIV).” Jesus, so loved the world, that He died on its behalf. In so doing, He overcame sin and death. He gave us not insurance but ASSURANCE in His love.