Thursday, May 30, 2019

Mark's thoughts: Healing and Life Now

During the past two years Good Shepherd has experienced a number of serious health issues among her members.  Several of these have been due to cancer.  We are currently praying that a two year old girl does not have leukemia.  When illness and physical problems arise, we pray for healing.  We pray that God will remove and end the problem. What we want is the very thing Jesus did during his ministry on earth.  For example, we find in Matthew’s Gospel:

And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (Matthew 8:2-3)

It is natural to desire this and pray for it.  While we want this, it can also conceal from us a deeper truth.  This is the fact that no matter the outcome, God has already provided final healing.  It is sin that has brought illness and death (Romans 5:12-14; 6:23).  Jesus Christ died on the cross in order to justify us – to make us righteous before God (Romans 5:15-19).  In his resurrection, Jesus has begun the resurrection of the Last Day. This is the transformation of bodies so that they can never die again.  Paul told the Corinthians about the resurrection, “What is sown is perishable, but what is raised is imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:42).

Because of Jesus’ resurrection, this outcome is certain and sure.  It is merely a matter of timing.  Paul wrote:

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:20-       23). 

In Christ, every cancer and illness has been cured. It has already happened. We look for the return of Christ when he will apply that cure to us.  Paul told the Philippians that “we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:21).

It may be that we do not receive the healing that we want. We may have to pass through death in order to receive the healing Christ has begun in his resurrection.  Yet, here too we learn a deeper truth from our Lord about which we dare not lose sight. This is the fact that because of Christ we cannot die.  Instead, Jesus has already given us eternal life now.  He said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25).  Instead, through faith in the Son of God we already have eternal life now.  Jesus said, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 6:36). Because Jesus is the living Lord, our life with Him can never end.  For this reason Paul wrote, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:23).

In the resurrection of Jesus Christ our illnesses and diseases have already been cured.  Through faith in Christ we already have eternal life now.  The death and resurrection of Jesus means that we pray for healing in the confidence that it is already ours in Christ and that we cannot be separated from the life our Lord gives.

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