Jesus threatened eternal damnation.
This terrifying new idea must have coerced
many people then just as it does today.
“Be baptized and believe”
or “Be condemned to Hell”
(John 6:53-54) (Mark 16:16)
The old Testament says nothing about a punishing afterlife.
Yet in the New Testament, Jesus introduces Hell as a threat to sinners.
The threat of Hell would certainly focus a person’s mind.
And wouldn’t it be very corrupting from the start? I can imagine how it must have terrified people, keeping them hanging on every word Jesus said.
Add to this the problem that physical sickness was understood as the outward expression of sins. In other words, if you are sick in some way you are afflicted with sins. Sins cause disease.
So Jesus would attempt to heal the sick and thereby cure the obvious illness – ridding one of the ‘sins’ which caused it. Eternal life was only possible if you were literally not sick. The sinless should then live forever.
If Jesus’ was unable to cure your physical illness, it was evidence you were still in sin.
Jesus did not take the blame for a person who was not cured. The problem was always your own lack of faith in Jesus.
“And He did not do many miracles there
because of their unbelief.”
In other words if you were not cured by Jesus, it was a sign your faith was lacking and according to Jesus, you were heading to HELL. With that as the consequence why admit you were not cured?
So, “O Lord, I’m cured!” may have simply meant,
“Lord don’t send me to Hell! I have faith, I really do.”
I have questions about these miracle stories.
Let’s assume for a moment that leprosy was not the only skin disease of these people in the desert. Maybe Leprosy is not specifically what all the supposed ‘leper’s’ had.
Where were the doctors? Many skin conditions are not serious. Rashes can clear up. Without medical knowledge how were these writers to know exactly which people had the correct diagnosis of leprosy and who had something less serious like Psoriasis or Herpes which can come and go? Even today doctors misdiagnose skin problems. Why should it be different 2000 years ago?
We are told Jesus could not cure everyone,
“He could do no miracles there” – (Mark, 6:5)
And we are told several ‘cured lepers’ never returned to say thank you to Jesus,
“Only one of those who were healed returned…” – (Mark 17:15)
It seems there is a simple answer.
These lepers were not really cured and they didn’t want to confront their fate. To Jesus, a continuing illness meant a lack of faith – and that necessarily that leads to ‘Hell’.
Under those circumstances, why go back to Jesus to have him try again? How much bad news can a person handle?
The very real threat of Hell had to be a heavy burden for those who saw no improvement in their illnesses. It would be a bad sign if god did not heal them; a sign of weak faith.
It makes sense that many people would lie publicly and INSIST that Jesus cured them!
All to avoid the Hell Jesus assured as the alternative.
I can’t claim that is what happened – but it is obvious
telling Jesus you were NOT cured was a ticket to eternal Hell.