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Christ The Great Physician

by the Rev. Dr. Derrick Hassert
[A Sermon preached at St. Andrew’s]

Christ has been given many titles over the history of the Christian Church, and almost all are derived from Scripture. We have all probably heard them at one time or another: Christ the Great High Priest, Christ the King, the Good Shepherd, the Lamb of God, the Bread of Life, Son of God, Son of Man. The list is long, and these are but a few of the biblical titles. Each one tells us something very important about the work of Christ Jesus. This morning I’d like to reflect upon the Gospel lesson from Saint Luke, chapter 7, verses 12 through 15:

12 When Jesus came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.

Progressively in St. Luke’s Gospel we see the power that Christ possesses over the spiritual and the physical realms, triumphing over disease, demons, and then even death. O course all of this culminated in His own ultimate victory over sin and death in the resurrection.

Earlier in Saint Luke’s Gospel we read of Christ healing a man with leprosy, healing the centurion’s servant, healing St. Peter’s mother-in-law, healing a man who was paralyzed, healing a woman with a hemorrhage, and then healing a man with a paralyzed arm. In this morning’s Gospel reading we now see Christ not only healing those who are living, but also those who have died. His power, His dominion, extends over all creation. St. Luke, being a physician, would perhaps be quick to remember these incidents and he would have marveled at the authority that Christ possessed.

We have all been to a doctor, and we all know of good and bad doctors. None of us, I would hazard to say, has been to a great physician. What makes a great physician? First he must be able to assess and properly diagnose our ills, and then he must be able to apply the proper treatment. However, we have probably all been to doctors that could do that to one degree or another. However, what is often missing? Have we ever felt as if the physician was setting himself (or herself) above us, the lowly patients? Yes, condescending (stooping down) to help us, but helping us while emphasizing the condescension? Perhaps not the best bedside manner a physician could have. Oftentimes there is a lack of caring or compassion, and the sick are treated as things to be fixed, not as people to be healed. It is as though they are not one of us, not even in the same species. In the work of Christ we see One who not only has the power to diagnose, not only has the power to heal, but One who also feels and cares for those who are entrusted to His care. In numerous places, as in today’s reading, we are told that Christ “had compassion” on those he ministered to. Here again we need to see the greatness of His role as physician-many have compassion but lack the will to act or the ability to actually help. Christ’s compassion was genuine in its humanity, while His ability to heal was from the authority He possessed as the divine and only begotten Son of the Father. The role of Christ as Great Physician revealed in part His dual nature as God and Man. In His true humanity Christ could empathize as a human being with the suffering, sickness and loss of other humans, as created beings, yet as God He could reach into those lives and touch them in the most powerful way-in a way no mere man could ever do.

Through such incidents we see why Christ is indeed referred to as the Great Physician. But we must not see this title as referring only to His ministry to the sick, for His role as Great Physician is spiritual as well, indeed it is primarily spiritual, for sickness and death entered into the world because of sin. Christ is first and foremost the physician of our souls, for it was Christ who reminded us that “those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” And then we have to ask ourselves the question, is anyone of us truly “well” spiritually? As Christians we would like to say “yes” but any objective diagnosis would result in our being diagnosed as spiritually ailing in some manner or another. Having been grafted into Christ’s Body and fed with grace by the hearing of the Word preached, by prayer, and by the Sacraments, we know by Faith that we live in Christ, and yet we are still spiritually ill-for the new nature in Christ is in battle with our sinful natures. Before our being grafted into Christ, before coming to the Great Physician, we may have thought of ourselves as completely well, or at least above average in our spiritual health. It is only once we come to the realization that Jesus Christ is the only one truly righteous that we know that our spiritual health is not as God originally intended it to be. What is the first step toward wellness? Repentance, continual repentance and turning towards God for our guidance. In our liturgy we say the Ten Commandments at least once a month, for they remind us of our need for God’s sustaining support in our process of spiritual growth. In the services for Morning Prayer and Holy Communion we make our confessions again and again, day after day, week after week and year after year, so that progress, slow as it may be, may be continual and steady. God is ever before us, as is our knowledge of our need for God’s mercy.

God does desire our spiritual health and our spiritual growth, but we can only begin the process of healing when we admit that “there is not health in us” as we say in Morning Prayer. We need someone to heal what is broken, and as Christians we have Faith in Christ that He is the one to heal our separation from God the Father. Even after we have put ourselves under the care of the Great Physician there is a possibility, once we think some progress has been made, that we stop our treatment. We stop thinking about our own sinfulness, start dwelling on how OK we are in comparison with “everyone else,” we stop the progress of healing, and we fall back into the grip of the disease of sin. We cancel our appointment, we stop reaching out to the physician of our souls and stop taking his advice. While at one moment we may feel well spiritually we cannot trust in our own ability to keep ourselves well spiritually. Very few patients make accurate diagnoses. Sometimes we ignore warning signs of our spiritual illness, putting them aside in the hopes that they will heal on their own or simply go away. Too often people put off a correct diagnosis until it is too late, until their sin pollutes not only their own lives but the lives of those around them. Those who acknowledge their condition will seek the proper treatment. The proper treatment for sin is the love and compassion of Christ. The question is how often will we seek him out for diagnosis and treatment? How often will we read the Scriptures, how often will we confess our sins, how often will we put our trust in Christ, how often will we come to the Lord’s Table in humility and reverence? Today, as we think about the many titles given to Our Savior Christ, let us consider His title as the Great Physician and examine our own lives and our own hearts and minds and consider where we need treatment most, and let us open those areas to the healing power of Christ and His love for us, praying that He might heal us by conforming us to His will and His purposes. Amen.

 

Parish News

A work day was held at the church on Saturday, September 22, 2007. Thank you to those who helped paint and clean.

A fifth Sunday potluck luncheon was held in the Parish Hall on Sunday, September 30, 2007. Everyone had an enjoyable time of food and fellowship.

The Rt. Rev. George Fincke was with us for the annual Episcopal visit on Sunday, October 7, 2007. The service was followed by a catered luncheon, which was enjoyed by all. Bishop Fincke has oversight of the Incarnation Convocation of which St. Andrew’s is a part.


In Memory

Louise A. Rich, age 92, was taken to be with our Lord September 17, 2007. Louise was a long time member of this parish, along with her husband Keith who preceeded her in death in 1993. She is survived by her daughter Marilyn and sons Keith and Jarvis, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.


Community Thanksgiving Service

Sunday, November 18, 2007, 6:00 p.m., Faith Christian Reformed Church, 8383 W. 171st St., Tinley Park, IL.


Feast of St. Andrew

Friday, November 30, 2007. Potluck at 6:30 p.m., Evening Service at 7:20 p.m.


Missionary of The Month

Rt. Rev. & Mrs. Gerhard Meyer (Grace) Esther, Melody, Jessica, Joy. Youth/Camp/Pastoral Ministries. Schwarzenborn, Germany.


Spaghetti Dinner

PLACE: St. Andrew’s Parish Hall
DATE: Saturday, November 3, 2007.
TIME: 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
COST: $6.00
CHILD: $3.00
FAMILY: $15.00
Spaghetti, Meatballs, Garlic Bread, Garden Salad, Cake and Coffee or Tea.
All proceeds support Missions.


Choir

Rehearsals during the month of November. There will be choir rehearsal on Tuesday, November 13th at 7:30 p.m. instead of Thursday, November 15th and choir rehearsal on Tuesday, November 20th at 1:30 p.m. instead of Thursday, November 22nd. All other rehearsal dates in November remain the same.


VISIT OUR WEBSITE
www.andrewrec.org

 

 

 

Happy Birthday!

Nov. 3 - Bishop Franklin Sellers
Nov. 10 – Michael Ebisi
Nov. 17 – Boyce Ashmore
Nov. 19 – Doris Sellers
Nov. 19 – Caleb Grant Arrigoni
Nov. 21 – Bryan Reagan
Nov. 28 – Stella Levi
Nov. 29 – Rev. Craig Smith

 

RICH REWARDS
by Helen Kitchell Evans

Fall brings us rich rewards;
The harvest of abundant grain,
A lingering warmth of feeling
Across the valley and the plain.

In this season we recapture the
Abiding love of our friends;
The wonders of God’s world;
His greatness never ends.

Today let’s go out for a stroll
And call upon someone in need;
Gladden the hearts of the aged or
Go wherever our Lord might lead.

 


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The Very Reverend Frank M. Levi, M.A., Rector    Bishop Franklin H. Sellers, D.D., Rector Emeritus    The Reverend Derrick Hassert, Ph.D., Curate    18001 94th Avenue   Tinley Park, IL 60487    (708) 614-7404    FAX (708) 614-7435 AndrewREC.org Home Contact the Webmaster Sign our guestbook View our guestbook

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