2018-8-19 Jesus’ Absolute Authority over Sickness

Cornerstone EPC                                                                              Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                          August 19, 2018

“Jesus’ Absolute Authority over Sickness”
Mark 1:29-34

I pray that your heart rejoices in Jesus’ absolute authority over everything; I know that mine does.  Let’s review the ground we have covered in this short sermon series on Jesus’ authority.  We have seen His total authority exerted over both human will (in Mark 1:16-20) and over evil beings (in Mark 1:21-28).  In today’s text, we see Jesus’ absolute authority over sickness—and how welcome to our souls this news is.  Let us once again hear God’s Word read and proclaimed in this place.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

We read in Mark’s Gospel, just before today’s text, that Jesus exorcised an unclean spirit from leave a man arriving late at Capernaum’s synagogue—and that all attending were amazed.  We read next, in fashion typical of Mark, that Jesus—both having taught with authority and having cast out the unclean spirit—immediately left the synagogue.  Immediately (once again) after leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to Peter’s and Andrew’s house—with James and John.  There Simon’s mother-in-law lay—with a fever, a fever that Luke calls great or high (Luke 4:38).  Immediately the group tells Jesus of her, and we read next that Jesus comes to her.  He takes her by the hand and lifts her from where she lay.  The fever leaves her—and, though this, considered alone, redounds to God’s praise, this is not all.  She appears to suffer no ill after-effect.  Mark tells us, in the same sentence in which we learn the fever leaves her, that she serves them—presumably at table.  Peter’s mother-in-law serves Jesus, among the others present, with strength sufficient and to spare—not to mention with will, moved to worship and gratitude, sufficient and to spare.

Word, it appears, gets out.  Many—yea, the whole city—upon learning about Jesus’ teaching, exorcism, and healing, come to Him.  They bring the sick and the demon-oppressed to Peter’s and Andrew’s house.  Jesus heals many who were sick with various diseases.  No disease is too dire for King Jesus to handle—and He revealed His glory and blessed many that evening.  Even more, He casts out many demons—and, by forbidding them to speak, He exerts His authority over them to a purpose.  True, the demons would declare Who He is, yet they would do it to a nefarious end—hoping by their declaration to derail His ministry by too early a full declaration of Who He is.  This dastardly end Jesus thwarts, and the full declaration of Jesus’ person awaits its opportune time.

How welcome to our souls is the news that Jesus holds, and exerts, absolute authority over sickness.  It emboldens our prayers—both for ourselves and for others.  It also fuels our hope—both for deliverance from sickness here and for deliverance from the very possibility of sickness, among other ills of this life, hereafter.  Yet to the thoughtful one burning question remains, namely, “In view of Jesus’ absolute authority over sickness, why do some remain, apparently, un-healed?”  The question is a good one, and it deserves a good attempt at an answer.

“The secret things belong to the LORD, our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever…” (Deuteronomy 29:29).  The Lord, in His infinite wisdom, tells us neither fully nor explicitly why He heals some, but not others.  Do not let this drag you to despair.  We have some partial answers today—answers which show God’s righteous uses of the sickness that comes to us in His good providence.  He uses sickness, as any other providential trial, to wean us off self-sufficiency unto God-sufficiency.  He also uses sickness to develop in us patience, endurance, and the like—the stuff that some Christian writers call spiritual fiber.  God also uses sickness to sharpen our prayer life—what Christian doesn’t pray fervently for relief from sickness when it comes?—and, hence, to draw us closer to Him.  In short, God uses the trial of sickness, among other trials, to make His power perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Remember the Apostle Paul, who, for all his use in the healing of others, yet endured a thorn in the flesh (likely a physical malady) that God apparently ordained for Paul to carry long-term.  Also remember that Paul gloried in it, knowing that when he is weak, then Christ is strong in him.  We, by the powerful Spirit of the living God, can adopt the same attitude.

God also uses our sickness to reveal His glory—as he did in the case of the blind man to whom Jesus gave sight (John 9:1-41).  He reveals His glory by showing His kindness and power to us via healing our diseases, and He also reveals His glory by deferring our healing for a time, in order that our healing—delivered later—will result in even greater glory for Him and even greater blessing unto us.

God also uses sickness to reveal His glory through us to others.  We, when rightly related to God in Christ by the Spirit’s power, praise His Name in every station—no matter if well or if ill—and God causes others to notice our ascription from adverse state of glory to Him.  Our very sickness, paradoxically enough, may prove a blessing to others.  Our season of sickness, whether ongoing or ended, enables us to encourage, in a pointed way, someone else who endures the same sickness.  Perhaps the way we endure our sickness leads another to wonder, “How can you bear such a sickness so well?”  This gives us the opportunity to testify—to give a reason for the hope we profess (1 Peter 3:15)—and that soul, upon hearing your testimony and the reason for your hope, may embrace Christ as Savior and Lord.  What precious fruit that rises from the soil of unpleasant sickness.

Never forget that God always acts for His own glory and our maximum good in Christ.  This mean, first, that He is never mean, capricious, or the like.  It also means, second, that if you be in Christ, sickness does not mean He is angry with you.  There are occasions where sickness may be a fatherly chastisement[1]—but, if you be in Christ, all condemnation rightly due you for sin is poured out on Jesus Himself, and there remains none for you (Romans 8:1).  In view of Jesus’ absolute authority over sickness, then let us entrust the whole matter of healing unto God—manner, timing, and the like—and let us pray boldly for our great Physician to heal.

AMEN.

[1] An example of this is the chronic fatigue and its associated ills (lowered immunity, e.g.) that comes from too much activity and too little rest.

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