Jesus Heals Our Sicknesses
O Lord God, as I enter into Your presence for worship this day, move me to entrust myself to You completely. You are a God of grace, mercy, and power. You created the universe and control it as well. There is nothing that You cannot do. Therefore, may I come to You with a repentant heart, a thankful spirit, and open mind, and a growing confidence in You and in Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
The LORD chose the children of Israel to be His special treasure in Old Testament times not because they were great, but rather because He was gracious! In the same way God by grace remains faithful to us in our day. May we remain faithful to Him!
God has graciously saved us, not because of anything we have done, but rather according to His mercy through His means of grace and the work of the Holy Spirit. Let us, therefore, thank Him and prove ourselves faithful to Him by maintaining a life of good works!
Text: Matthew 8:1-13
When [Jesus] came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. 2 And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 5 When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.
Leprosy!!! Or Hansen’s disease! There are various kinds of diseases that we know and also can find in the Bible. Let us think about leprosy. How many of you have seen lepers? How many of you have touched lepers?
There are still leprosy cases prevalent in some African and Asian countries. I have seen lepers and had interaction with them. When I see them I really feel sorry for them.
Talking about leprosy in my home country, Nepal—in 2008/09, 4565 new leprosy cases were registered. The Government is striving to eliminate leprosy.
Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by bacteria. Left untreated, leprosy can be progressive, causing permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes and emits a very unpleasant odor.
Many Hindu people who are uninformed still believe that leprosy is caused by immoral behavior and is a curse from the gods. Others believe that it cannot be cured, is highly contagious and is spread through touch. But we know that there are medicines for leprosy and we can show our love to the ones suffering from it just as Jesus did.
One of the modes of expansion of the Gospel in Nepal was leprosy care, the health professionals such as missionary doctors, nurses and technicians came to Nepal to treat leprosy. On the one hand, they would serve the lepers with Christian love and on the other they would preach the saving Gospel to the lost souls. Therefore, we hear that people who have recovered from leprosy are coming to churches and converting.
Our God is a healing God. One of the names of our God in the Old Testament is Jehovah-Rapha which means The Lord your Healer(Ex. 15:26). In our text we see how I. Jesus heals us and II. He heals others as a response to our prayers.
After the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was on His way to Capernaum. As we can assume that the leper might have heard about the miracles and the teachings and the powers and authority of Jesus, his heart would have been stirred and moved him to come to Jesus. At that time Jesus’ fame spread throughout the land and people knew him as a healer. They would bring their sick to Him and He would heal them. We can see this in Matthew 4:23, 24: “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them.
At that time people used to treat lepers poorly. People would not come near lepers and would not do any business with the people with leprosy. The Old Testament talks about the lepers and instructs people how to treat the lepers. We can see clearly in the book of Leviticus 13:45,46,
“The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ 46 He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.”
At the Old Testament time, lepers were completely isolated and could not come and live together with those who were well. Today, though, back home in Nepal and in other countries, leprosy-affected individuals and families are often rejected by their loved ones, excluded from their communities and forced to live in shame and isolation. Individuals affected by leprosy find it extremely difficult to lift themselves out of poverty. Long stays in the hospital, disability, exclusion, discrimination, lack of access to education, and unemployment exacerbate their already desperate situation.
Lepers were isolated due to the uncleanness of leprosy. We might not have leprosy and we may be healthy and we are together with our loved ones but remember, once we were separated from God. Our sin separated us from God. We were lost somewhere in the darkness of the world. The Word of God says that we were dead, which we can find in Ephesians 2: 1- 3: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins. And the Word of God in Romans 6:24 tells that the wages of sin is death.
We did deserve eternal punishment in hell because we were dead in sin. God’s grace and Jesus’ love bring us forgiveness of all sin. Now we are no more lost in the darkness, but still we have those evil desires and evil thoughts, and we commit evil deeds. So we are not able to keep even a single Law, our carnal fleshy mind leads us to do what is sinful. For example the ninth commandment says, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.” Do you covet good things that other people have but you don’t and can’t afford? Do you covet good attire, physical facilities, electronic gadgets, comfy life? We can’t stop coveting. We are not able to fulfill this single command. This sin separates us from our God.
As the leper heard the Word of the Lord, his heart was stirred by the Word, and God the Father draws him to Jesus because no one can come to Jesus unless the Father who sent Jesus draws him. (John 6:44)
As he approaches Jesus we can see this diseased man confess and worship his Savior and searches for His will. He is making a twofold confession: 1) he admits his absolute unworthiness and 2) his childlike, trusting faith. With him it is not a question of whether Jesus is able, but if He wills. Jesus never lacks the willingness and He stretches His hand and touches this unclean person saying, “I will”, and commands “Be clean.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
We as helpless sinners need to be saved and our Savior who paid for all of our sins brings soothing Gospel to us. Now we are united with our God and we are His children. As Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” As we see the Scriptures say that by grace we are saved and this means, we don’t need to earn our salvation and confirmation of eternal life.
Isn’t it wonderful to hear that precious salvation is now free? As we all know nothing in this world is free, someone has to pay the price and we know our Savior paid the price for all our sins. Jesus died on the cross for you and me. We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 10:10).
When it comes to our physical maladies, we can ask for healing but we should not be demanding; we should seek not our will but His. Sometimes we pray a lot for our needs and desires and for our plans but we should seek God’s answer; His answer can be: yes or no or wait for an appropriate time. As the leper said “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean.”
Sometimes our physical sickness may not be healed but it doesn’t mean that God cannot heal us. The most important healing is our spiritual healing and our Savior is able to heal our spiritual infirmities. He forgives us, saves our soul and He grows and keeps our faith.
He does not heal us only, but also heals others in response to our prayers.
The second story tells us how Jesus healed a Centurion’s servant. The leper was able to come to Jesus, not so the paralytic. His master intercedes for him. As the text tells us, his master came to Jesus and pleaded for Jesus to heal him. This officer had heard what Jesus had done for others (Luke 7:3). So now he pleads that the same mercy be shown to his own slave (Luke 7:2).
As he pleads for his servant we can see that he acknowledges the power and authority of Jesus and confesses that he is nothing to Jesus. He says of himself, “I am not worthy” in Matthew 8:8. So we can see the humbleness of the Centurion. The centurion did not consider himself worthy to welcome Jesus in his house because he was as yet unclean in the eyes of the Jews.
V.10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.”
Here we have some questions. Do we have the same amount of faith as the Centurion had? Do we fully believe our Lord? Are we wholeheartedly seeking and acknowledging God?
We may not be fully trusting God as this centurion did. We also are unworthy to welcome Jesus in our house. We know that this centurion was a Gentile. Jesus actually came from the Jews, but He did not show favoritism only to the Jews, but in fact, He extended His mercy to this centurion who wasn’t a Jew. Our Savior was so great in His mercy and compassion and He hears his prayers.
You and I are also Gentiles and unworthy to receive any good things from our Lord. He comes to us not because of our worthiness but because of His grace, and through His compassion He loves us and He paid the ransom for our sins. Now we have the hope to be united with God forever, now we can come boldly to His throne of Grace as He works in our heart. He does not show favoritism only to Jews, He also loves Gentiles.
As we read in Romans 10:12, 13 “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
In our text, verses 11,12 point to the evangelization of all the nations, the passage says many shall come from east and west—that is, from everywhere to share the blessings of salvation. In other words, that the church will be extended among the Gentiles. On the other hand, the “sons of the kingdom,” that is the Jews—the chosen people—shall be cast into the most distant darkness because of the large scale rejection of Christ by the Jews which we can see in the Scriptures. But as this Centurion believed, Jesus in His compassion heals his servant.
We can pray for others who are physically ill. We can also pray for those who are spiritually ill, namely unbelievers or those who are weak in faith. The physical sickness can be healed according to the will of God; and the spiritual illness also can be healed, and they can come to faith as God stirs their hearts and minds and He draws them to our Savior. Our God hears our prayers and when we pray for the lost people then He could work in the heart of the lost people and bring them to the faith. Therefore we can do our best by praying and preaching to the unbelievers so that someday they can be saved.
As the Lord healed the Centurion’s servant, He can heal our beloved too. He heals because He is the Healing God.
We know that He is the Healing God for us and also for others, because of His saving love and death for us. He gave His life and He will give the other things too for us.
Our merciful Lord heals us and others in response to our prayers. Not only our physical sickness but also our spiritual sickness and diseases can be healed because we were dead in sin, that is we were spiritually dead, we did not have hope, we were condemned. But He raised us and gave us life and freed from all our sins and spiritual sicknesses through the shedding of His innocent blood. Jesus is our Redeemer and the Great Healer! Amen.
Vicar Raju Bhitrakoti