Seward United Methodist Church
Monday, December 10, 2018
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Jesus the Healer

Mark 5:21-43

Maybe we read the stories of Jesus healing people in the Gospels and we find ourselves wondering: “If Jesus could heal people miraculously while he was here on the earth, does he still do it? If so, then why did I not experience healing? Or why did someone I care about not experience it?” It might not seem very fair that God is able to heal our ills and yet he doesn’t always do it.

One thing I think we should remember is that the Gospels tell us the stories of people that Jesus did heal. They don’t tell us the stories of the people that he did not heal. If Jesus had chosen to do so, he could have spent his entire three year of ministry doing nothing but healing people. If the population of the Roman province of Palestine was four million, as I’ve read it was, then there were certainly plenty of occasions for him to heal people. I would venture to say that there would be no way for him to do that in three years. And perhaps there would not have been any time left for him to teach or, you know, die on the cross for our sins. And certainly, Jesus’ most important work was the cross, not the healings.

Let’s talk a few minutes here about a theology of healing. Scripture makes it clear that we were created as good and whole creatures. But our act of rebellion, which is the essence of sin, rebellion against God as Lord, has brought about a corruption of the whole creation. It’s not just our bodies that are corrupted; Romans chapter 8 tells us clearly that the whole creation is groaning as it anticipates its renewal. This corruption means that we experience brokenness throughout our being. It’s not just physical illness that plagues us. It’s also relationship problems, mental illness, and spiritual alienation from God. And I think that we can see those other dimensions of brokenness in this passage. Healing is more than just a physical thing.

The passage begins and ends with Jairus, whose daughter is seriously ill, and who dies before Jesus reaches her. Her illness and death don’t just affect her. They affect her family and community emotionally. And we certainly see that it affects Jairus spiritually. Jesus tells him, “Don’t be afraid. Trust me.” Death also creates a spiritual crisis: If there is a God, then how could he let this happen? Does God still love me, because it feels like he doesn’t when tragedy happens?

Sandwiched by the story of Jairus’ daughter is the story of the woman with a “hemorrhage” or “flow of blood,” a polite way of saying that she had some kind of

gynecological problem. Her condition is most certainly not just physical, because it affects her whole life. According to the Old Testament laws, she is “unclean” as long as this continues. That means that she is not allowed to enter the Temple or the synagogue. And she is not supposed to come into contact with other people so that she does not pass along this “uncleanness.” Effectively, she is isolated, spiritually and socially. Her condition also has an economic dimension: She has spent all her money trying to find a cure. Lest we think that health-care related bankruptcy is a modern phenomenon!

In both stories, Jesus’ healing is more than just physical. It also restores hope, restores community, restores a sense of spiritual well-being, and more. When we consider all that, these miraculous healings are even better than we might think.

But we also need to remember two other realities about healing in this life. First, praise God, all illnesses, diseases, and sufferings in this life are temporary. But the flip-side to that reality is that all healing in this life is also temporary. The most dramatic healings in Jesus’ ministry were the three times he raised the dead: Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, and the unnamed son of the Syro-Phoenician woman. All three of them died again. All ills are temporary, and all healings are temporary.

The good news is that God will heal every ill of his children, but not in this life. The full healing of our ills will only take place in the resurrection to eternal life in the new creation. Only then will our weakness and brokenness be transformed into glory and strength, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15. Only then will “every tear be wiped from our eyes” and “death, sorrow, and pain will be no more,” as God proclaims in the 21st chapter of the Revelation.

We were not created for illness or disease. And in the end, God will remove them from us forever. But we must remember that promise of God is for eternity and not for this life. God may choose to heal us in many ways in this life, but all of them are temporary. But we look forward to the day when they will be eternal. And the healings we experience in this life are an anticipation of the final healing. They are signs of what will be, not an end in themselves. Some people say, “Time heals all wounds.” In truth, only eternity heals all wounds.

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