The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
Third Wednesday in Lent 03/03/21
Healing the Effects of Sin
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
It is a custom during the Lenten season to focus our attention on the cross and the sufferings of Christ there for our sins and our salvation. But this year we are looking at the suffering Servant of Isaiah. It was not His death alone which Christ gave for us, but His entire life. Jesus was that Suffering Servant for us all. Everything He did, He did for us. Even the miracles He performed were done for us. The immediate benefit was felt by those upon whom He worked them, but they were done every bit as much for us.
Jesus performed all kinds of miracles. They were done to fulfill the prophecies which we are using as our texts during this Lenten observance. The miracles were a kind of identification. Jesus did things that only God could do. He did things to show His nature and to show how good His will is for us. He fed the five thousand to demonstrate graphically that He is the Bread of Life. He changed water into wine to illustrate how joy and praise abound in Him. He walked on water and stilled the storm to clearly show that He is Lord over the kingdom of power, the entire world of nature, and the forces of the natural world.
But the predominant kind of miracle that Jesus performed was the miracle of healing. He healed with a touch, and He healed with a word. He healed from close up, and He healed from a great distance. He made the blind to see, the lame to walk. He made the deaf hear and the leper clean of His leprosy. He even raised the dead.
Jesus showed compassion. He showed understanding. He showed the will to do good and to rescue from the effects of sin. And in many cases, He spoke of that outward healing in such a way as to turn our attention to the inward healing. He often said, "Your faith has saved you."
The healing miracles of Jesus particularly showed us a Savior, for He was healing those people from the effects of sin. Scripture tells us that Sin causes our illnesses. Sin makes us weak. Sin cripples and sin destroys. Jesus came as our Servant to heal us from Sin, and He demonstrated His authority over sin by healing the effects of sin.
One time He made it particularly clear. A man who had been suffering from a paralyzing malady had been lowered through the roof. Jesus saw the man's condition immediately. Perhaps the man had been like we might be, focused on his guilt and certain that the great evil of his physical condition was a manifestation of his spiritual condition. Perhaps he tormented himself, as some of us do often, by telling himself that he was being punished by God. He may have even had specific sins in mind as he lay helpless.
In a moment, Jesus saw it all clearly. The man did not need his strength and health as desperately as he needed to have the hope of the love of God. He did not need to be strong and walk as urgently as he needed to find peace from the condemnation of his conscience and the terrifying fear that God willed his destruction.
Jesus made the meaning of His healing miracles crystal clear, that day. He looked on the man and loved him, the Bible says and had compassion of the paralytic, and Jesus said, Your sins are forgiven. With those four words, Jesus lifted the burden off of the man. With four words, Jesus healed him from the torment. It was so easy and yet so difficult - as those around Jesus rightly judged. They thought in their hearts that only God could forgive sins. They were correct in that judgment, and yet wrong in their estimation of Jesus,
Jesus knew their thoughts and corrected them. He said, Which is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,' or ‘Rise, take up your bed, and walk'? The accusers were caught in a trap. The power to forgive and the power to heal both belonged to God alone, but it was simpler to just "say" that the man was forgiven. No one could see the forgiveness of sins any better then than we can today. No one could see if forgiveness had happened, but they could see if the man could get up and walk. But they could not voice that opinion without becoming guilty of blasphemy themselves and without denying their God.
So, Jesus answered the riddle for them. He said, But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins, and then He turned to the paralytic and said, Rise, take up your bed and walk. And the man obeyed, showing them undeniably and clearly that God stood among them in human form, and the power of God to forgive rested in the man Jesus. He demonstrated it so that there could be no doubt that the healing ministry of Jesus was a foretaste of the great salvation which He was working out and would accomplish by His death on the cross for us.
He made it all even more explicit by raising Jairus' daughter, and then the Son of the Widow of Nain, and particularly Lazarus from the dead. Even the time Lazarus had spent in the tomb could not stop the power of God from giving life and restoring life. What sin had taken away, Jesus Christ was there and is here to give back.
Every healing struck down the power of sin to sadden - if not absolutely and for everyone, certainly for the people healed, and for those who loved them! Each healing destroyed the power of sin to cripple and waste away. Jesus was giving out free samples as examples of what Sin had done and what and how forgiveness would undo and repair. Life without the influence of sin is life without death, life without sorrow, life without illness, life without pain, life without tears and terror. Jesus healed to show us what the forgiveness of sins was about and what it was to finally accomplish. He did His miracles as Servant of us all so that we would see it and know.
We no longer need to guess at it. We can see that every evil of body and soul, property and honor is done away with by forgiveness. Every illness, disfigurement, and even death has no power where sin is forgiven and grace is active. We don't need to just take someone's word for it, we can actually see it in the Gospels. We don't need to philosophize and speculate, Jesus demonstrated it. He healed the effects of sin, right then and there.
That was a foretaste of heaven. It was like a crumb from the party cake. Now we know what is coming, even if it is not here, even if it is not being served to the full at this very moment. It is the promise of God - and He has shown us the power to accomplish it utterly. He has also shown us the will to do it. He has helped us to see what does not exist where sin is destroyed.
Your sins were punished on the cross, paid for completely. In Baptism, you were joined to Christ in His death and resurrection so that your soul has already begun to share in that life eternal. Your body, however, is still infected with sin. Your soul will struggle with that sin in the flesh throughout life. But the victory is already ours, and we only await the coming of our Lord finally to make that healing from the effects of sin fully ours in both body and soul.
The promise of God is that all who believe His promise, and trust in the salvation worked for us and won for us in the suffering and death and resurrection of Jesus, will possess and fully enjoy that final healing and will receive the full gift of eternal life. We have seen the truth of it and the nature of it in advance, however. Jesus showed it to us.
Jesus, Servant of us all, served us with the miracles and especially the healings - healing the effects of sin, however partially and temporarily. One day He shall heal them completely, and permanently. Let us ponder the miracles of Jesus, and consider all that forgiveness and life will contain because Jesus was Servant of us all, healing the effects of sin.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
(Let the people say Amen)