Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Discipling the Sick"

Insights #5 Feb. 1, 2014
First Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Discipling the Sick
For the week of February 1, 2014

Who sinned?

Upon seeing a man they knew who had been blind from birth, the disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:1-3). There was a belief in their day, as it is with some persons today, who believe that sin directly causes all suffering and disease and that God punishes this way. In those days blindness was associated with, and in many cases caused by, gonorrhea. If Jesus had said the parents sinned, the next question would most likely have been, as again it would be today, “Is this fair?” Jesus was not caught on the horns of a dilemma with that either or question. He did not give the reason for the blindness. He simply said that neither the parents nor the man caused this blindness. Jesus did say God’s glory would be manifested in the midst of this tragedy.

Similar questions, to what the disciples and most all the people of their day believed, are recorded by Luke. In 13:1- 4 the record states that some Galileans were murdered, by the Romans, while offering sacrifices on the altar. The other tragedy was about eighteen persons who were killed when the “tower in Siloam fell” on them. Jesus asked “do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?” The answer is no, of course not. (Jesus did not say that sin does not cause sickness and death, because that does happen. But not here). He did tell the people to repent and to be ready to die in case a fatal accident could happen to them. Certainly the natural law of cause and effect was at work here and not God personally working to destroy people. The threat of a tragic end is present for everyone at all times. The issue, here in Christ day, and now in ours, is not when death will happen, nor why, nor how it will come, but we must avoid a terminal fate that has even greater consequences. Only repentance toward God and faith in Christ alone will prevent the death that lasts for eternity.

Jesus and Sickness

Jesus never sinned nor was He sick, but He took both our sins and our diseases upon Himself (Isa 53:4; Matt 8:17). However, He was never sick. Why not? His life of perfect holiness overcame all sickness that knocked for entrance into His body or mind. Jesus “was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6).

Healing and Forgiveness

Four weary men, after carrying a sick friend on his bed, brought him to where Jesus was but could not get in to see Him because of the crowd surrounding Him. Because Jesus was inside a house, the four friends of the paralytic tore up the roof of the house, where Jesus was, and let the sick man down through the hole in the roof and placed him in front of Jesus (Mark 2:3-4). Jesus response was not “be well” but rather, “your sins are forgiven” (v 5). Mark does not mention the man’s faith, but records that Jesus, when seeing the sick man’s friend’s faith said, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” “Then when Jesus perceived the evil thoughts of scribes that were there, He asked them ‘Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.'" And “immediately he arose, took up his bed and went out…” (vv 8-12).

Both spiritual and physical healing occurred. It seems that paralysis came upon the man because of his sin and he being tortured by the burden of the guilt of his sin was healed physically when he believed that his sins were forgiven. This reminds us of Psa 103:2-4 where David joins forgiveness and healing, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.”

Healing and Discipleship

Many who were healed in body, mind and spirit became disciples of Jesus. There may have been some who did not follow Him, but He healed them, nevertheless. Those not wanting to become a disciple were blessed with a better temporal life, but this is all they would get. By not following Jesus, they shut the door to eternal life. This is a lesson for us.

There is another lesson for us. Not all people are healed in this life. It is a fact that some who truly believe still suffer and die. They have the faith of Jesus which believes not only in the absence of feelings, but against them. This life is not the end for them. Following Jesus during this temporal life they will be healed in the resurrection. Then they will learn about all the circumstances surrounding their sojourn on earth. And they will be perfectly satisfied.

Body and Mind Relationships

In several of Solomon’s Proverbs we learn the close relationship between mind and body. In Prov 3:5-8 we learn that through faith and repentance a person may be healed of peptic ulcers which come from excessive worry and failure to trust the Lord. In Prov 12:25, the wise man wrote, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.” And again in 17:22 we read that “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”  Most of the white blood cells and all the red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow. Anger and depression affect the bone marrow. Depression affects the body’s disease fighting mechanism, but a merry heart is good medicine.

A similar thought is expressed in Prov 15:13. Follow that with verse 30 where it is written that a “good report makes the bones healthy.” Glad tidings of great joy promotes health in the bone marrow and stimulates the immune system. The best news believed that brings health to body and soul is the gospel. The Emphasized Bible puts it this way, “Good news gives marrow to the bones.” The best good news is the gospel of Christ and His righteousness. This will bring good health to body, mind and spirit. Jesus forgives our sins and heals our diseases. This causes us to say with David, “Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” (Psa 103:1).

What Did Jesus do for Us?

“What now does Jesus do for us?–-He takes the weakness, and gives us in return His strength. ‘We have not an High Priest which can not be touched with the feeling of our infirmities’ (Heb 4:15). ‘Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses’ (Matt 8:17). He becomes all that we are, in order that we may become all that He is. He was ‘born under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.’ He hath delivered us from the curse, being made a curse for us, that the blessing might come to us. Altho He knew no sin, He was made to be sin for us, ‘that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him’ ” (2 Cor 5:21).  E.J. Waggoner, “The Signs of the Times,”April 5, 1899.
In closing, consider the following words from the hymn “There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy”:“There is mercy with the Savior;

"There is healing in his blood.
For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of man's mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.”
-Jerry Finneman

Raul Diaz