Search
Cincinnati Men's Gathering
Saturday
Jul142018

Jesus the Physician

Then Jesus went out to the lakeshore again and taught the crowds that were coming to him. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up and followed him. Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”  Mark 2:13-17

In the Word ‘physician’ means forms of preservation from evils and falsities because in the spiritual world ‘sicknesses’ are evils and falsities. Spiritual diseases are nothing else, for evils and falsities rob the internal of a person of good health. Spiritual diseases introduce mental disorders, and at length states of depression. Nothing else is meant in the Word by ‘sicknesses’. from Secrets of Heaven §6502

“‘For I, Jehovah, am your Healer’ means that the Lord alone preserves them from evils. This is clear from the meaning of ‘healing’ as curing of and also preserving from evils; for when evils are meant by ‘sicknesses’, curing people of them, and preserving them from them, is meant by ‘healing.’” Secrets of Heaven §8365

 

Healing is removing evils and protecting us from evils. That's actually a very radical notion of what healing is. Early in his ministry, Jesus broke all sorts of conventions and was very radical when he ate with people who did not strictly adhere to the religious law, and so were called sinners, a derogatory term, but now includes a moral and spiritual judgment.

         And then very near the end of his ministry, Jesus again sat at a table with a group of men, and it included a man who would later betray him, a man who would later deny knowing him, and a man who would not believe in him without physical proof, and yet we know that to be one of the most precious and holy times in all of Jesus' ministry, when he sat down with his apostles at his last supper.

         These stories from the New Testament illustrate not simply Jesus' tolerance, but his complete acceptance of anyone who comes to him seeking to follow him, as he said, to learn the truth and love. You see, Jesus is modeling what we now acknowledge to be a bond, a secure attachment with God, that we're all created to experience. That is, Jesus developed such a clear sense of his self and his value and his role in God's creation that he was never swayed by others' opinions. He was not afraid of their rejection, and so he was never deterred from caring for his children. Indeed, because all are God's children.

         Now the judgmental people around Jesus called attention to the pasts of these people, the reputation of the people sitting with Jesus. And so they labeled those people sinners, and by so doing, they separated themselves from those sinners, casting the sinners into a lower cast. These opinion makers, the teachers of the law among the people, were afraid of losing their power, of losing their status, of not being seen as the most right and so most righteous.

         Jesus was directly challenging them and their opinion of themselves and their fear and their place in the theocracy they ruled. Now Jesus never says that he is all right with a person continuing to separate themselves from God, to not follow God, to become what we now call a sinner. Jesus offers a new view, however, and that is that such people are sick. When we are feeling separated from the Lord, when we are following evils, when we are believing falsities, Jesus is saying we are in need of a physician, a spiritual physician.

         Right here at the very beginning of his public ministry, in only the second chapter of the gospel of Mark, he engages with Levi, who would later be called Matthew. Now Levi was a man who had been given approval by the Roman overseers to act out what might be his greed in collecting as much tribute money for the Romans from the Jews as he could, and then sending onto the Romans only what the Romans required, actually asked for. And so therefore, if Levi could get more money from the people he was collecting from than he had to pass on, he could become wealthy.

         Levi is sitting at his table there in his office, perhaps on the side of the busy street where people would come to pay their tribute, and Jesus approaches Levi and invites him to stop what he is doing, and instead follow a different path. And in that time when they gathered for dinner, Jesus proclaims himself as a doctor of sinology. Curing the ill effects of evil and preventing spiritual disease.

         When Jesus gathers at Levi's house, he's not condoning evil. He is practicing his trade of spiritual medicine, of healing people. Do we tell a doctor that he's being a bad person when he's being with sick people? No. But you understand that this is a radically different view of how good people, righteous people were to act.

         Now here, as in so many placements in the New Testament, we're confronted with civil and political outrage. On this literal level, we are indeed encouraged to seek justice. That's a good reaction. However, as Jesus showed us, it's not sufficient for the healing of the world or our own healing. If it were, Jesu would have done it, and we would all have been healed and the world would have been healed.

         The writings for the new church make a special notice that Jesus was here to cure spiritual diseases. That he reaches out with reformation of our hearts and minds to cure us of our spiritual disease, our separation from the Lord. And so the writings for the new church take us to the next level of our understanding of healing. The healing of our spirit by being conjoined with, connected to, bonded with our loving and healing God.

         And so Jesus is manifesting the reality that all physical ailments, all the things that are wrong in this world, showing a separation between people and a separation from God have a spiritual cause. This does not mean that if a person's physically sick they are evil. It means simply that evil is present and powerful, that it infects and attacks people spiritually, mentally, and even physically.

         This is the message of the creation story in the book of Genesis. We can see that this is the origin of the idea of original sin, although that concept has become confused with an inherent sinfulness. It's actually describing the human condition, that we begin not fully connected to our Lord and Savior, and so spiritually sick. And that's exactly why the Lord God Jesus Christ came to the earth. He comes to help us. He says I can see that you can follow me, so if you do come to me and follow me, you will be healed.

         And so we all can say to ourselves the sins of our past can be allowed to determine our present and our future. We can let them affect us. But you know, the sins of our past, Jesus is saying, does not affect his connection with us, even though it does affect our connection with him. Relationships are complicated like that, right? We know this. A person living the model Jesus is here giving us will experience, in the end, unconditional love with healthy boundaries. And yes, that is complicated. But Jesus is saying we get there by sitting at the table, being present to those evils and falsities that would make us sick, acknowledging them and asking the Lord for help. It's called repentance. Turning our lives so that we are following Jesus instead of following our own ideas, our own thoughts.

         The Lord doesn't let the poison of critical people's thoughts and words adulterate his view of us or of himself or of the world. Jesus experienced God's love when he loved others and felt blessed. We know that while on earth, he experienced the sense of separation from the Father, from God. And he was able to, when he acknowledged God's unconditional love for him, to then feel one with the Father. As he let go of that fear of what was evil and false, as he let go believing what is false or loving what is evil, he more and more connected with the Father, with God, until eventually he became God.

         And so we, too, modeled after that glorification process experience regeneration. Whenever we feel we've lost our bond with the Lord because we valued the ideas of the world or our own notions, when we've followed the world for our own lusts, we feel separated from the Lord. And he is telling us that that is a moment of sickness and he is the physician.

         So the challenge for us is to confront those evils and falsities that we recognize, we come to believe and gathered around us in our minds, and instead go to the physician for a change in our spiritual health. We need to be consistently thinking that there is a way for everyone to be loved unconditionally. That I can be loved unconditionally and that I can love others without judgment, without harsh judgment, because that is what Jesus did.

         And so our task is to remind ourselves every moment that the Lord loves us and cares for us. To remind ourselves that we can follow him, because now he invites us, he invites everyone to be with him and to follow him, especially those are who are sinners. That is those who are not spiritually well. Such a practice of thinking how to follow the Lord will gradually affect our thoughts, and so our speech and our action.

         Being inspired by the Lord in our hearts, warmed in our hearts by his love, and being enlightened by the Lord by the truths of his word, will gradually come into our actions and our speech, because he is then protecting us from what is evil and false. He is separating us from any infection that would inflow, and so it protects us and protects the society around us.  We begin to depend on the Lord as physician to heal us, to heal the world, to protect us and to protect the world. No longer do I have to separate people out or separate myself from them, to protect myself from them, for I'm convinced that the Lord is doing that separation and protection from evil.

         Sharing this call from the Lord, following his path, depending upon the physician to heal me and protect me then forms healthy boundaries around my spirit, and my response to the Lord's invitation creates then a secure attachment, which I experience as a healing and lifting of my spirit. All because the Lord has become my healing physician. Amen.