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Healing of Body and Soul

Luke 4:38-39

Pastor James F. Wright

Epiphany 4C
Immanuel Lutheran Church  
Altamont, IL

Sun, Jan 31, 2010 

Luke 4:38-39 He arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.

Today we consider how Jesus cured Peter's mother-in-law from a fever. Sickness is something we all experience. Whether it be the common cold or the latest flu virus, or a serious disease like arthritis that causes pain or shortens one's life, we've all been sick. As kids we sometimes wanted to have a slight fever so we could stay home from school.  How our parents worried over us! We didn't care. We thought we'd get better. A couple of days of that and we were glad to get back to school.

Everyone experiences illness, but where does it come from? Evolution says that sickness is good, something that causes life to refine itself. When an animal becomes sick and weak, it dies and cannot reproduce. The strong survive the illness and have offspring that have a better chance of survival.

The Bible says that sickness and death are alien to the world. God created the world without sickness. He made all life perfect. When he finished creating, "God saw everything that he had made, and it was very good" (Gen. 1:31). So where do sickness and illness come from?  How did they get into the world?  What should Christians do for sick people? Let's talk about that today.

Jesus knew sickness. He knew disease. The Bible says they brought hundreds of people to him who were sick, blind, deaf, unable to speak, unable to walk. Jesus healed them all. This shows us that he cares about people who are sick. The God who made the perfect world feels the pain of those who suffer in it. But why do we suffer so?

When someone is sick, it does not mean that they have done something that has angered God more than healthy people. There are some hardened atheists who have excellent health. When we see sickness, it reminds us that our rebellion against God has changed the world. Sin, that is, disobedience to God, has broken the world. Not only does sin destroy our relationship to God and other people, cause wars and bloodshed, but it changed nature as well. People get sick and die. We fear death because it's not natural. We weren't created to die, but to live and serve God.

Peter had a problem. His mother-in-law was sick. They asked Jesus to help her. That's worthy of our attention. As God Jesus knew this, as he knows all things. But it gave the disciples the opportunity to ask the Lord for it. Luke says "they appealed to him on her behalf. Today we call that prayer. The Christian church should be appealing to God for all those who suffer. You notice we spend some of our time here praying for the sick and injured.

Luke says Jesus stood over the woman and rebuked the fever. Matthew adds that he touched her hand and she was immediately made well. She was so well that she got up right away and began to serve the group. Sounds like she felt so much good that she started to cook a big supper! Just like my mother-in-law would.

Jesus healed hundreds, if not thousands of people. But we don't read anywhere in Scripture that these people didn't eventually succumb to some other ailment or injury and eventually die. So the miracles of healing were temporary. That is the way it is for us. Sometimes we pray for someone and God makes them well. Christian physicians can attest to the fact that there are some healings today that they can't explain.

Other times we pray for someone, but their illness is not healed, and they eventually die.  Jesus healed people for one reason, so they would know he had the power and authority to forgive sins. Only God can forgive sins and open the door to eternal life.

Jesus not only healed people's bodies, but he cast out demons from people. That shows the connection between the healing of the body and the soul. Now if you are sick it does not mean that a demon is inhabiting your body. But there is evil in the world. The devil would have everyone suffering in misery of body and soul.

The forgiveness of sins that Jesus brought through his suffering, death, and resurrection brings a permanent healing to you. You may become ill, and that illness may cause your death. When you believe Jesus died for your sins, the Holy Spirit applies the forgiveness Jesus made on the cross to you personally. Your soul is cleansed, and at death your soul will be with the Lord. When he comes again to earth sometime in the future, he will raise up your body from its grave and perfect it, removing all sickness, disease, and deformity. He will heal your body permanently, just as the heavenly Father raised up Jesus in a glorified body that is impervious to sickness and damage. Therefore we can say that Jesus brings us all healing of body and soul.

I went into a children's hospital at the University of Michigan in the early 1980's. In this ward were the sickest children in that part of the country. We students came there on Sunday mornings to have a Sunday school class for them.  I remember a little girl who had no hair. She was about 7 years old and was the sweetest thing you ever saw. She had no hair. She was being treated for cancer. Another boy had stitches from his neck to his navel. He was recovering from heart surgery. How these children suffered. I'll never forget them as long as I live. We college students didn't know how to heal their bodies. The best doctors were doing all they could. But we could do something the doctors neglected. We weren't doctors, or even pastors yet, but we could bring healing to their souls. We could bring them life that no disease could ever take away. You can bring that to others too.

The fact that Jesus cared enough to heal people has had an effect on the world. Before the Christian era, there were no places for sick people to go and receive treatment. Christians invented hospitals. There was no care for those who were dying. You just went off somewhere and died. Christians invented hospice care. There was no hope for children with no parents. Christians invented orphanages and foster care. They took orphans into their homes and raised them as their own children. What kind of disaster relief do you think there was in the first century for earthquakes? None. Christians have so influenced society that we now have international aid. We forget how much the love of Jesus has affected the world.

But there is still need for care. We show how much we trust the Lord and look forward to the resurrection of our bodies when we seek to bring healing to other people. When we feed the poor, encourage the cheerless, help the family with a sick person by bringing a meal to them. These are ways that we celebrate the healing of our souls, and the life to come where sickness, disease and death will be a thing of the past.  I hope you can see just how much hope there is. Jesus heals our bodies and our souls. Amen.

Copyright 1998-2011 James F. Wright. All rights reserved.

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