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‘Healthcare for all, together’: An Easter shoutout

Wednesday, 27 March 2024  | Paul Mercer

Mark’s gospel is a ‘rollicking good story’ about the new way of God’s Kingdom.

It can be noted that 40 percent of the stories Mark assembles about Jesus are healing stories. The ‘new Kingdom way’ carries the hope and capacity for healthcare for all in these stories. In a world where life expectancy was low, health knowledge and practice embryonic and any health system capacity very limited, these healing stories were good news indeed. They continue to pulsate today.

Mark’s writing style conveys energy and excitement about ‘Kingdom healing’, but we often overlook how this author slows everything down at the end. For Jesus, the ‘Son of God’, whose presence 2,000 years ago created the hope of real lasting change, all seems lost when he is politically assassinated. But Mark is telling a murder mystery story.

On the eve of His death (Mark takes six chapters to tell of the last week of Jesus’ life), we find Jesus and his disciples celebrating a meal in memory of the Exodus. This epic liberation of Israel from degrading slavery in Egypt is a core part of its national story.

Throughout His life, the Kingdom mission of Jesus has been focused on the grassroots, the everyday experience of suffering, sickness and elite manoeuvring for wealth and power, including religious power. The time is right for a new exodus.

As he is about to receive what looks like the ‘prophet’s reward’, Jesus gathers his inner circle of followers for a meal, a last supper. In contrast to the rowdy joy of Levi’s first meal with Jesus at play, shouts for Jesus’ blood were now filtering along the crowded streets of Jerusalem below.

Back in Galilee, the ‘Kingdom training ground’, Jesus had helped his friends see this Kingdom was about God’s dream, a ‘one bread’ solution for the chaotic hurts and divisions of humanity. He had fed 5,000 Jewish people and then crossed the ‘other side’ of Galilee where he fed 4,000 gentiles. Alone in a boat with his discipleship circle (Mark 8:1-10), a conversation unfolded in which Jesus guided his friends to recognise a ‘one bread’ way emerging in His ‘new Kingdom’ campaign.

But now, with cross makers finishing their carpentry, Jesus moves the ‘one bread’ solution into view again as he ‘takes bread and breaks it’. His life’s end was to be the surprising gift of life and health in an enduring Kingdom. His blood symbolised as wine was the signature of the new covenant of God’s love for the world, written in His blood spilt at the impending crucifixion. A resurrection surprise was looming. The gift of this memorial meal would allow followers over time not only to celebrate the paradoxical death of the Son of God whom his disciples knew as the ‘human one’, but also to recognise the footprint of the Kingdom in real time healing, liberation, and genuine dignity. A salvation that enables anyone, anywhere, to get up and follow Jesus – as Mark says, ‘from the end of the earth to the end of heaven’ (Mark 13:27b).

This Easter, we have another opportunity to reflect and meditate on Jesus who, as the ‘one bread broken’, unites race, class, religion, culture, business, healthcare and politics into a new vision of hope. This is the good news victory announcement of the gospel. The last supper and the events of Easter are an ongoing challenge to follow Jesus as his disciples. We are all ‘sick’, needing a physician. ‘One bread and wine’, are a consistent testimony to the grace and healing this world needs. Once again, especially this Easter, may our recall of the death and resurrection of Jesus bring whispers into our hearts to go back to ‘Galilee’ action and training. Are you ready for healthcare for all, together and more?


Paul Mercer is an Independent Medical Consultant at Silky Oaks Medical Practice, Qld, and Chair of the Health Serve Australia Board.

Image credits:

Church door portal metal entrance by Falco at Pixabay.

Last Supper by Paolo Veronese at Wikimedia.

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