The Gentle Healer
“THE GENTLE HEALER”
SELMA ORIGINAL FREE WILL BAPTIST CHURCH
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2003
LET US PRAY:
COME HOLY SPIRIT…
29 And at once on leaving the synagogue, he went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. 30 Now Simon’s mother–in–law was in bed and feverish, and at once they told him about her. 31 He went in to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to serve them.
32 That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. 33 The whole town came crowding round the door, 34 and he cured many who were sick with diseases of one kind or another; he also drove out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.
35 In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. 36 Simon and his companions set out in search of him, 37 and when they found him they said, ‘Everybody is looking for you.’ 38 He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighboring country towns, so that I can proclaim the message there too, because that is why I came.’ 39 And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out devils.
THE MIRACLES ASSOCIATED WITH JESUS
OCCUPY A FULL THIRD OF THE GOSPEL OF MARK.
THAT’S A LARGER PORTION OF THE GOSPEL
THAN IS DEVOTED TO THE PASSION AND RESURRECTION.
HEALINGS MAKE UP A SIGNIFICANT PART OF THESE MIRACLE STORIES.
IN THESE FEW VERSES FROM THE FIRST CHAPTER OF MARK,
WE ARE TOLD ABOUT TWO MIRACLE/HEALING INCIDENTS.
IN THE FIRST INCIDENT,
JESUS HEALS THE MOTHER-IN-LAW OF HIS FRIEND SIMON,
LATER TO BE RENAMED PETER.
THEN JESUS HEALS MANY, PROBABLY TOTAL STRANGERS,
WHO HAVE CROWED NEAR THE HOME OF SIMON AND ANDREW.
JUST BEFORE THESE TWO MIRACLES,
JESUS HAD CURED A MAN POSSESSED BY DEMONS
WHILE IN THE SYNAGOGUE AT CAPERNAUM.
YOU WILL RECALL THAT AFTER CASTING OUT DEMONS,
JESUS HAD ASKED THE MAN TO TELL NO ONE.
THE MAN PROMPTLY IGNORED THE REQUEST OF JESUS,
AND THE WORD BEGAN TO SPREAD.
THE CROWD THAT GATHERS IN FRONT OF THE HOUSE
WHERE JESUS IS STAYING,
HAS COME NOT ONLY BECAUSE JESUS HAS HEALED
BUT ALSO BECAUSE THE HEALING AT SYNAGOGUE
WAS BEING TALKED ABOUT IN CAPERNAUM.
THE VERY FIRST STORIES ABOUT JESUS,
THAT WERE PASSED ON AMONG HIS FOLLOWERS
IN THE ORAL TRADITION
AND THEN WRITTEN DOWN FOR LATER GENERATIONS IN THE FOUR GOSPELS,
ARE NOT THE ‘LILIES-OF-THE-FIELD’ TEACHINGS,
OR PROFOUND WISDOM ON PRAYER OR SOCIAL REFORM,
OR EVEN THOSE WONDERFUL PARABLES.
THE VERY FIRST STORIES ABOUT JESUS,
TELL US ABOUT JESUS, THE HEALER.
JESUS OFTEN TALKS AND TEACHES ABOUT THE KINGDOM OF GOD,
ESPECIALLY IN MARK’S GOSPEL.
BUT WHAT HE DOES ARE ACTS OF HEALING.
WHAT DE DOES IS SHOW US WHAT THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS LIKE.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD, JESUS SHOWS US,
IS A PLACE WHERE WE CAN BE MADE WHOLE.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS A PLACE
WHERE THE POOR AND THE POWERLESS ARE LIFTED UP,
WHERE NOT JUST THOSE AT SYNAGOGUE,
AND FRIENDS OF THE FAMILY,
AND THE PEOPLE OF CAPERNAUM,
BUT THE KINGDOM IS A PLACE OF HEALING FOR ALL.
JESUS GETS UP THE NEXT MORNING, EARLY
AND GOES AWAY TO PRAY.
THE GOSPEL WRITERS TELL US THAT JESUS PRAYS OFTEN
AND THEY TELL US THAT JESUS PRAYS WHEN HE IS STRESSED
AND WHEN HE OBVIOUSLY WANTS TO UNDERSTAND GOD’S
WILL FOR HIS MESSIAHSHIP.
AGAIN, JESUS NOT ONLY TELLS US WHAT WE MIGHT DO
BUT HE SHOWS US WHAT GOD WANTS FROM US IN OUR PRAYER LIFE;
PRAY WHEN LIFE CAUSES US PAIN,
AND PRAY TO UNDERSTAND THE WILL OF GOD.
THE CHURCH HAS OFTEN BEEN AMBIVALENT WHEN IT CONSIDERS HEALING.
JESUS HOWEVER WAS NEVER AMBIVALENT ABOUT HEALING.
THERE IS NO RECORD IN THE GOSPELS
THAT JESUS EVER DEALS WITH THE ISSUE OF UNANSWERED PRAYER.
THE FAITH OF THE MAN POSSESSED BY DEMONS
IN THE SYNAGOGUE IS NOT AN ISSUE .
THE FAITH OF SIMON’S MOTHER-IN-LAW
IS NOT A PREREQUISITE FOR HER HEALING.
NO, THE FAITH OF THE ONE TO BE HEALED
IS NOT THE ISSUE IN THESE HEALINGS.
IT IS NEVER THE ISSUE.
THE ISSUE IS THE POWER OF GOD.
THE ISSUE IS THAT GOD LOVES US,
AND WANTS THE BEST FOR US, ALWAYS.
JESUS DID NOT HEAL TO BRING PRAISE AND ADORATION TO HIMSELF.
JESUS HEALED TO BRING GLORY TO GOD
AND BECAUSE THE PEOPLE AROUND HIM WERE SICK IN MIND AND BODY.
JESUS IS NOT REPORTED TO HAVE USED ANY LONG
OR MAGICAL INCANTATIONS IN THE HEALINGS HE PERFORMED,
RATHER HE SAYS THINGS LIKE, “COME OUT”, “RISE UP’, “GO”!
EVEN IN THE PRAYER HE TEACHES HIS DISCIPLES
AND THAT HAS BEEN PASSED DOWN TO US,
HE DOES NOT USE FANCY THEOLOGICAL TERMS.
RATHER HE TELLS US TO PRAY,
“HALLOWED BY THY NAME”,
“THY KINGDOM COME”,
“THY WILL BE DONE”,
“GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD”,
“FORGIVE US OUR SINS”,
“LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION”,
AND “DELIVER US FROM EVIL”!
THE VERBS IN THIS PRAYER ARE IN THE IMPERATIVE VOICE IN GREEK;
HALLOWED, COME, BE DONE, GIVE US, FORGIVE US, LEAD US, AND DELIVER US!
JESUS IS TEACHING US TO PRAY AS HE PRAYED,
TO BE BOLD WITH GOD.
GOD KNOWS THAT WE WANT HIS NAME TO BE HOLLOWED,
THAT WE WANT HIS KINGDOM TO COME,
THAT WE WANT HIS WILL TO BE DONE,
THAT WE ARE HUNGRY AND NEED BREAD, TODAY,
THAT WE NEED AND DESIRE FORGIVENESS,
THAT WE DON’T WANT SATAN IN OUR LIVES,
AND THAT WE FERVENTLY AND MIGHTILY WANT
DELIVERANCE, SALVATION, AND WHOLENESS.
JESUS SAYS THROUGHOUT HIS MINISTRY
THAT ALL OF US NEED TO ADMIT OUR DEPENDENCE ON GOD.
FOR IT IS WHEN WE ADMIT TO BEING BROKEN,
IT IS WHEN WE ADMIT OUR SICKNESS,
IT IS WHEN WE TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE SIN IN OUR LIVES,
IT IS WHEN WE FINALLY BECOME OPEN
AND AVAILABLE TO GOD’S POWER THAT WE ARE HEALED.
JESUS IS TELLING US THAT IT IS OK TO SHOUT TO GOD,
IT IS OK TO EVEN DEMAND GOD’S INTERVENTION.
IN SHOUTING OUT OUR PAIN, OUR HUNGER, AND OUR BROKENNESS,
WE ARE NOT TELLING GOD ANYTHING GOD DOESN’T ALREADY KNOW,
RATHER WE ARE ADMITTING TO GOD
AND TO OURSELVES
THAT WE NEED GOD,
THAT WE DESPERATELY NEED GOD’S PRESENCE IN OUR LIVES,
AND THAT WE ARE HEALED AND MADE WHOLE
ONLY THROUGH THE POWER OF GOD.
IT IS NOT BECAUSE OF OUR FAITH
OR OUR GOOD WORKS
THAT WE ARE ALLOWED TO SHOUT FOR GOD’S HEALING.
IT IS BECAUSE OF THE PASSION, DEATH, AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS
THAT WE ARE MADE WORTHY TO SHOUT OUT OUR PAIN
AND DEMAND GOD’S PRESENCE IN OUR LIVES.
IT IS THROUGH THE PASSION, DEATH, AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS,
THAT WE ARE HEALED,
AND NOW UNTO GOD THE FATHER, GOD THE SON, AND GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT,
BE ASCRIBED ALL MIGHT, MAJESTY, POWER, DOMINION, AND GLORY,
THIS DAY AND FOREVERMORE. AMEN
The New Jerusalem Bible. 1995, c1985. Includes indexes. Doubleday: Garden City, N.Y.