From Hurt To Healing

Sermon Text – 04.14.2019
 
[Luke 17:11-19 and Matthew 11:27-30]
 
          Once upon a time, Christmas day fell on a Sunday, and there a farmer who decided to go to church. Like many people, he thought he was fulfilling his religious obligation by going to church twice a year – Christmas and Easter. The sermon that day was preached from Isaiah, chapter one, verse 3, which says, [read it]. Basically, right at the beginning of his book – Isaiah is saying that humans are dumber than animals. The ox and the donkey know where to go, but the people do not understand. After church the famer returned and he was contemplating the sermon, lost in thought. He wandered out and was standing among his cows. One of his cows came over and began to lick his hand – simple demonstration of gratitude from the cow. This was a man who built his life, he worked hard and earned everything he had. Strong as he was, the farmer found himself weeping, with tears running down his face as he realized, “God did so much for me, and I never thanked him. My cow is more grateful than I am, and all I ever did was give her grass and water? God has given me everything, and what have I done with that gift?”[1]
 
          Today, we continue with part two of our sermon series Breaking Barriers. For the month of April we are examining the miracles of Jesus, to see what it really means to follow the son of God. Last week we talked about the empty tomb and the possibility of miracles and what that does in each of our lives with the obstacles that we face. But today, we look at what happens next. After we have been given a way, after we have stepped into healing – how do we live healed in a broken world? How do we move on from hurt into healing. Today we’re going to talk about living a life gratefully healed.
 

 

          And so we get started in Luke, chapter 17 where Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, and it says, [read v.11-12]. Couple things here – first, to understand this story you have to imagine a world without healthcare. No hospitals, lots of superstition, basically no doctors. And so leprosy was a catch all term that probably included lots of different types of skin diseases. But usually lepers had some severe visual skin disorder. Now they didn’t understand or know anything about germs, or hygiene or the spread of disease – all they understood at this time was that diseases were contagious. So instead of treating people who were sick, they would kick them out of town. That was how they dealt with disease in the ancient world – you’re sick? Get out! They would literally kick them out of town. Lepers were outcasts in society. There were rules in place about how close Lepers could get to healthy people. If you were diseased you were required to keep your distance. That’s why it says, “as he entered the village.” The lepers were outside of town, and they stand at a distance and shout. It keeps going, lepers are shouting at a distance [read v.13-14]. First Jesus sees them, and then Jesus does something about it. That’s really important, because the first step to solving any problem is that you have to see the problem. Step one – when he saw them. But this goes beyond just this story, and becomes intensely relevant in our daily lives. I was reading one of my commentaries, and it pointed out, “almost every age has had its social outcasts. People barred from normal society whether through physical illness or national origin.” In this story lepers are the outcasts, but in our lives today the characters change, but the status remains – the people on the outside. Jesus saw them. We cannot solve the problem of sexual abuse and harassment in our society until we see the problem. We cannot solve the problem of racism in our town until we see the problem. We cannot solve the issues of teen suicide and the struggles of self worth, we cannot overcome addiction or substance abuse until we see the problem. The first step in every problem is to see the problem. Jesus saw the lepers. And then he tells them, “go, and show yourselves to the priests.” Which at first I thought was kind of weird, but I found out that apparently at this time, if someone was healed from a sickness, if they got better – they had to go to the priest to get approval to rejoin society. I’m all better, priest looks you over – gives you the thumbs up, and you can go home, go back to work, go back to your family. So what we see is that it was a step of faith for them to go to the priest. They were not healed yet, it says, [read v.14b]. As soon as they take a step of faith, the healing begins.
 
          It continues, [read v.15-16]. There were ten lepers outside the city, yelling at Jesus from a distance. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back – praising God. Do you see the parallel? When he saw that he was healed. The first step of Jesus healing them was that he saw them. The first step of the leper praising God, was when he saw that he was healed. And again, this speaks into our lives here today. We come to church to praise God, to receive forgiveness and love and worship in gratitude. And when we see what God has done in our lives – we want to worship, we want to give thanks. But when we don’t know how God is working in our lives – when we have our eyes closed, or we don’t know what to look for, when we don’t see – we don’t worship. Church is a burden, a requirement, an obligation for the vaguely morally superior. But when we see, and we remember and we keep in front of us the things God is doing in our life – we will give thanks. The last thing I wanted to point out before we move on is verse 17, [read it]. Where are the nine? Jesus healed 10 men of leprosy, and one of them said thank you. Jesus Christ, the miracle working, perfect son of God has a 10% success rate for gratitude. When we help people in our lives, do we expect to get more gratitude than Jesus did?
 
          So we switch over to our second scripture lesson, back in Matthew. Verse 27 says, [read it]. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t like the convoluted, super long sentence structures – I find it very confusing, so I have to break it down. But honestly, with this one all I need is the first line. [read v.27a]. God gave all authority to Jesus. Now, we talked about this last week – but it’s a theme that comes out when we talk about miracles. Jesus Christ is the all powerful son of God. There’s a reason we worship this guy. And the rest of the verse basically tells us that the more we know Jesus, the closer we get to God, and vice versa. Because Jesus and God are one and the same – they are parts of the same triune God. It keeps going, [read v.28-29]. These are good words. This is one of scriptures that people love to quote, you know? Like, this is tattoo level scripture. But what I want to point out is that Jesus’ authority lines up with his offer of rest. Jesus offers us rest for our souls and we know he can do that because he has all authority. The second piece I wanted to point out is that Jesus offers rest for our souls. Not all healing is a physical thing. When we get to talking about miracles and healings – yes there are physical examples that we can point to of God working in people’s lives, but one of the greatest forms of healing Jesus offers is revival in your soul. Our country is full of physically healthy people who are dying on the inside. Perfected physical forms in our culture that are walking around like empty shells – without purpose, without self-worth, or self-love. Back in Luke when Jesus was talking to the one leper who came back, he said, “your faith has made you well.” You faith has made you WELL, not just healthy, not just physically healed – you are well. Do you see how that’s different? Do you see how that’s better? Jesus Christ, the healing son of God, does not just offer one in a billion incredible physical healings – but also offers revival for our souls. Healing in our hearts. Peace in our minds – which in our culture is almost the more important type of healing. We’ve got great hospitals and medical practices to deal with lepers, but Jesus takes it further, into the matters of healing in our heart – [read v.29].    
 

            Jesus Christ heals us. Now last week we talked about how Jesus came and ripped holes in the walls of our lives and so I don’t want you to limit your understanding of healing to just physical problems. That sort of healing is possible, absolutely – but I think it’s less common nowadays because there is a deeper type of healing that we need even more. In following Jesus, in making him our Lord and savior we move from hurt to healing – physically, emotionally, socially, even financially – Jesus Christ heals us. By following Jesus, by worshipping him and working to live according to his teachings, we live healed in a broken world. There’s this theological teaching out there called Total Depravity. Basically it’s the idea that everyone is broken, and we are broken completely – down to core of who we are. Our desires are broken, our dreams and longings are broken, our bodies are broken, our minds and social connections, our families are broken. But the good news in a world of total depravity is that there is a total savior, Jesus Christ heals us completely. Maybe not instantly, but completely – and every level of our being – Jesus heals us. Jesus can heal our bodies, but sometimes he doesn’t – because there is a deeper healing that we need even more. Jesus can heal our minds, our hearts, our desires. Jesus can heal our marriages, when we let the savior of our souls work in our hearts and we start to follow Him – we can heal families, we can heal broken teenagers in our community, we can heal ingrained issues of racism and sexism. In a world of total depravity, in a world that is totally broken – Jesus is the complete healer.

    
      But some of you don’t like that. Some of you don’t believe that. What could Jesus do? Why would believing in Jesus change anything? Why would it matter if I believe in some guy who died and maybe rose thousands of years ago? How can that affect my marriage or my finances – I mean, common! How could believing in Jesus actually heal anything in my real life here today? I get the skepticism, I really do. I understand where they are coming from. But this is the struggle – so many people think that believing in Jesus is all about what you think. They think, “I agree – yes, Jesus is the son of God”, but then they don’t let it get down into their lives. They have this superficial relationship with God. And so the healing in their lives is superficial. Jesus is a complete healer, but only if you completely follow him. Following Jesus is not just belief. Faith is not just intellectual ascent. Saying that you think something doesn’t heal your life. Think about the lepers, they were not healed until they took the first step of faith. It said, “as they went, they were cleansed.” Following Jesus is not purely an exercise of the mind, following Jesus, real faith, takes steps – takes action.  
 

Do you see what God has done? Jesus crafted our relationship so that we can lean on him, trust him in hard times. Jesus heals us. Come to me all who are weary. But at the same time, Jesus does not let us be lazy with our faith. The foundation of Jesus’ healing in our lives is the launching point for our personal efforts to follow Jesus. We don’t earn God’s love, we don’t earn Jesus’ healing – we are given it freely, but our gratitude, our response towards God leads us to a life of following Jesus. Gratitude is an expression of faith. And faith requires action.

 
 

          So then the question is – what do we do? Faith requires action, so what actions do we need? Let’s look back at the scripture. Jesus saw the lepers, and did something about it. The leper saw God working in his life, and did something about it. First we see, and then we do something about it. SO the first part of living gratefully is to open you eyes. Open your eyes to see God working in your life, find the thousand little ways that God is working behind the scenes of your world. The New Interpreter’s Bible, a commentary set I like says, “Life itself is a gift. Health is a precious gift – the friendship of others and the love of family and special friends are an overwhelming grace to be treasured and guarded with gratitude.” Look around at your life – how is God working in your world? What do you see? “Gratitude may be the purest measure of one’s character and spiritual condition.”[2] If you feel you have nothing to be grateful for in your life, then you are missing it. Look harder, find God’s work in your life. He is there, if you have eyes to see. To live gratefully –  first we must see God’s work, and then worship.

      
    When we are healed – we follow Jesus, and we follow the example of Jesus. See and then do. The leper saw God’s work in his life, and then he praised and worshipped God. Followers of Jesus need action, need to follow Jesus. Jesus saw the lepers, and then he did something about it. When you are living healed in this broken world, we have a responsibility to spread that healing. To transform the world. To share what God has done in our lives, into the lives of the people around us. Open your eyes beyond your life, to the total depravity around you – the brokenness of our world, and then do something about it. We lean on God for our healing, come to me you who are heavy laden – and he gives us rest, but then when we are healed, he boots us back out into the world to spread that healing everywhere. Think about this, if God can work little miracles of healing in your one little life, if God can move you from hurt to healing – why can’t he do the same for our entire town? Our state, our nation, our world? See God working in your life, and then worship him. See and then do. Praise Jesus. See the brokenness in our world, and then do something about it. See and then do.   

 

   
       One of the most common barriers that I have seen in the life of this church is hurt. People cannot, because they are hurt. We are carrying baggage and limitation around in our hearts – and it is keeping us from being disciples of God. Maybe something happened recently, maybe it was twenty years ago – but it keeps us from trying. Jesus of Nazareth moves us from hurt to healing. He tears down the barriers of pain in our world, at every level of life, from my own personal struggles, to my family to my church, my town and more– Jesus is a complete healer. And so I’ll leave you with this. May you open your eyes and find the ways God is working in your life. May you respond to God’s healing with praise and worship. May you open yours eyes and see the brokenness of the world around you. May you respond by bringing God’s healing to everyone. Amen.

    [1] http://ministry127.com/resources/illustration/is-your-cow-more-grateful-than-you-are [2] P327, NIB Commentary