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midweek Service

Matthew 15:29-39

Rev. Andrew Eckert

Wed. after Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity
Our Savior Lutheran Church  
Stevensville, MT

Wed, Oct 21, 2020 

Jesus our dear Lord healed the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and other sufferers.  He fed four thousand.

But in the years following Christ’s earthly ministry, people still got sick.  People were blind or mute or deaf after Christ.  People got hungry and even starved to death.

Even while Christ was visibly incarnate in Galilee, there were many thousands who suffered whom Christ did not heal, and many thousands who were hungry whom He did not feed, at least not in miraculous fashion.

Christ obviously loved people and was moved to give them aid.  He could not help Himself because of His compassionate heart.  He could not sit by and do nothing.  His mercy compelled Him to help those with whom He came into contact.

But in the bigger picture, it may appear that Christ was spectacularly ineffective at healing.  The power of the Son of God is more than capable of doing this: He could have called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the entire earth.  Therefore I say, ‘Be healed, all the earth!’” And the earth was healed, every single sick person.  Christ did not do that, even though it was well within His capability to do so.  After all, He was the creative Word through whom all things were spoken into existence.  He said, “Let there be . . . ” and throughout the earth or throughout the universe things instantaneously sprang into being.  Healing one planet of its ill is not beyond the incarnate Word.

But even if He had done that, people would have gotten ill later on.  People would get hungry.  His planet wide healing would be a small blip on an otherwise uninterrupted history of sickness and death.

When we trace that dark history of suffering back to its beginning, we find two people, a snake, and a fruit tree.  After they fled and hid from the Lord who walked in the Garden, He said, “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” Thus began the curse of death that mankind’s sin brought upon us.  Every disease, every deformity and failure of the human body, every hunger pang and thirst, every weakness and pain and sorrow, traces back to the curse that sin brought into the world.

How could the Lord God bring such sorrow and pain into the world?  He did not, in fact, cause it.  Our human race did by rebelling against Him.  When you rebel against the One who is life, then you have chosen death, and we all choose it every day in a multitude of ways.  It is our fault, not His.

We might try to blame the wicked serpent.  That one is truly the author of much destruction and evil among the sons of men.  But we cannot blame him.  We sinned, and we continue to sin.  We show ourselves worthy of the death that stalks us.

We might ask why the Lord did not feel compassion towards us.  But He did.  He has immense grace and mercy towards us unworthy ones.  He said, “I have compassion on the multitudes.” He does not sit by and say, “They deserve it.  I refuse to feel sorry for those self-destructive rebels.”

Therefore, how could that compassionate Lord only put a little, temporary band-aid on this cursed world of death?  Of course not.  He must strike at the heart of the problem.  He must reverse the entire curse.  He must crush the serpent’s head and atone for sin and reverse death in His own Body.  This He set out to do, and did it.

He showed what He was all about when He healed people.  This was not a little miraculous healing that you could benefit from if you happened to live at the right time in the right place.  No, He gave signs so that the people then and we, standing centuries later, all might see and understand and believe.

Christ is the One who reverses the curse.  See the diseases we suffer?  They are the old world of sin and decay.  Christ has struck down the ruler of that old world, and a new world without sin and decay is on the way.  See the ways that your body does not function correctly?  Perhaps it is many small things, or perhaps it is so dramatic as lameness, muteness, deafness, or blindness.  Christ has struck down the serpent who delights in man’s suffering.  He has opened eyes and ears and unloosed tongues to show you that He is creating a new world where the human body always works far above all expectations, without any blemish.  For the unblemished Lamb has bled to make it so.

We still must live in the old world of sin and death.  With faith we see that we are part of a different, new world.  It is still unseen, to be revealed on the Last Day.  So we must patiently suffer through this world.  But how much easier it is to be patient when you know that the suffering will end and be replaced with all that Christ has purchased for us.

The Reversal of the curse is what Christ has become.  He is the loaf of bread that seems insignificant and the fish that seems too little to feed many.  Yet He is enough for all.  All sins, all diseases, all hunger, all death, all suffering has been accounted for by His all-availing work.

Here tonight He gives Himself as the miraculous meal better than the four thousand had.  We know through faith that we who faithfully eat His Body and Blood, trusting His promise, will live in the new heaven and new earth where none will die of hunger ever again.

Therefore, how could we not act like our Lord?  He has compassion on the sick and hungry.  Should we not also do what we can for them?  It may not be much, each of us according to our limitations.  We are not the Lord who can command diseases with unlimited power.  But each can do what the Lord gives us to do.

And we need not fear the future, since our Lord has created our future by His death and resurrection.  Whatever we give away in this life will be restored a hundredfold.  Whatever we suffer because we lived in the image of Christ will be erased by perfect healing.  He has purchased so much for us, an overflowing abundance to exceed our expectations, like the baskets overflowing with leftover food.  Christ has reversed the curse, so we can trust Him as we give our lives away for others.

The Lord give us fearless trust and a willing heart like His.  Amen.

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