Roger's Postings

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mark 10:46-52. Healthy Sickness?? 25/10.09

{46) Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. {47} When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" {48} Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" {49} Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called to the blind man, "Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you." {50} Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. {51} "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see." {52} "Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Passages like this one are just not fair. In fact, the Gospels are full of accounts of Jesus healing the blind, lame, deaf and many other sicknesses. People would call, crawl and be carried to him and be healed. Time and time again, we hear and read of how Jesus helped all those people who came to him in their great suffering. To many of us today that just doesn’t seem to be fair. What about me? What about our loved ones? Sure, we mightn’t be blind or deaf, but we have our problems and difficulties; sicknesses and other issues. And as much as we call and crawl to Jesus, nothing happens.

I know this is a problem for many people living today. If Jesus healed all those people back then; why not now? Granted, he does heal today; both miraculously and through the doctors and our health facilities. But so often, there is not that healing, even for the good, strong Christian; and this is of concern to many. Now it is here, that we so often find ourselves getting tangled up in our thinking.

On the one hand we have so many whose faith seemed to have been destroyed by the fact they were not healed. In some cases, we are even told, that if we prayed a little harder and had a little more faith, then all would be well. God has promised to hear our prayers and act on them, but he hasn’t and so there is something wrong with us. So often, we are told, that if we are positive enough in our thinking and have enough faith it will happen; and so the implication again is that there is something wrong with our faith when we are not healed.

The other problem that we are confronted with in these situations is that maybe God doesn’t care. Maybe there is no God after all; and all these miracle accounts are just fairy stories. After all, we have called on him to help us out and it hasn’t happened, so obviously he is either not there or he doesn’t care about me.

These two was of thinking with regard to healing from sickness then, encourages us to approach our own sickness with the attitude that I just have to have enough faith and it will happen. But this reminds me of someone I knew who wouldn’t go and see the doctor because that would be an indication of a lack of faith. So even though he had a relatively minor complaint, the poor guy nearly died before going to hospital and being healed.

But there is also the other danger that we give little or no regard to God when it comes to our sicknesses. The only time we will call on him is when all else is failing and we see him as a last ditch effort; just in case. This is also a wrong approach to facing the issue that we are facing.

So what is a healthy way to approach this whole issue: Firstly, we need to recognise that Jesus’ primary concern is for the spiritual wellbeing of his people. This healing of blind Bartimaeus happened as Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem to take care of our deepest need of all. In fact, all of Jesus’ miracles are to be viewed in light of his primary concern for people’s soul’s salvation. In John’s Gospel, all these miracles are called signs; which point people to Jesus as God Almighty come into our world to help us out with regard to our eternal welfare.

Along with that primary concern of Jesus for our soul’s salvation; that is of ours and others, as well; we are to also see that he wants us to follow him as well. We need to keep this in mind, because all too often we are tempted to think selfishly and this worldly. So often, we want only what makes life easy for us here and now, without regard for what is spiritually good for us and for others around us. Jesus however reminds us that he seeks to have us follow his ways and his means of reaching others with the Good News, which is so often through the cross and the difficulties of life. It is there that we recognise our need for our God and what he has to offer. We so often only look to and follow him when we know that we so desperately need him. But it is also only through our suffering that we are so often able to have an impact on the lives of others around us.

When we are conscious of ours, and others, spiritual sickness we begin to understand that our physical sickness is a result of sin. Not necessarily from some specific sin; but from that alienation from God and his goodness that has infected all of creation. So now God seeks to use our sickness and suffering for good: both ours and other peoples. So often, it is the only way that he can get us to stop and think: the only way that he can get us to think about our relationship with him. Paul himself made the statement that God had allowed his thorn in the flesh to remain so that he would not become conceited; and to continually remind him that God’s grace was sufficient to help him live with it. We also know of other instances where God used tragedy to bring others back into his loving presence. So God uses our sin to draw us and others closer to himself and to help us to learn to trust him and what he has to offer us.

So we should never allow ourselves to get caught up in the thinking that any sickness not healed is a sign of God punishing us; but of his desire to turn us, and others, to himself. Instead, we need to look for and certainly understand that God wants to use our problem for the good of his kingdom. He ultimately wants to draw us, and other, into a saving and reliant relationship with himself for all of eternity.

But at the same time, we must not lose sight of the fact that God can and may want to heal us in that situation as well. Like Bartimaeus, we can have a sure confidence that God can heal us here and now on the spot, if it is his will and for the good of his kingdom. He has the power to do the same today in each and every situation that we face, if it is for good. So we will on the one hand seek his healing, if he wills it, both miraculously and through the means he has provided for this purpose, and if it is his will not to, so that he may achieve some greater purpose, we pray for his strength and guidance, knowing that he will provide that.

Whichever way God should choose, we need to keep in mind that which is most important of all: which is brought out clearly for us in this account of the healing of Bartimaeus: Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. He went from one difficult situation to another; for the road in front would not be an easy one either: following Jesus on his road of suffering in order to bring salvation to humanity. But for him following Jesus was the only response to someone who had done such a great thing for him.

For us too, healing or no healing, the road ahead is one of following Jesus. We can not sit back and seek to take the easy road through life, full of comfort and ease; but instead constantly seek to do what our Lord and Saviour would have us do; seeking what is best for his kingdom. This always needs to be first and foremost in our minds, both in sickness and in health.

So Bartimaeus teaches us a wonderful lesson here. Blind though he was – he had great spiritual insight, which is a great lesson to us all. When we face sickness and disability, we need to have that same thinking – knowing and trusting in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal or to give us the strength to cope. Likewise, we need to be encouraged by his willingness to follow Jesus on our way through this life: the way of suffering which leads to salvation and of extending that salvation to the lives of others as well. So let each one of us have a healthy understanding of sickness and disability: an understanding which continues to keep our hearts, minds and lives focussed on the one who is all important – our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him alone be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN

Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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