“A Gift of Healing”
Luke 9:37-43a, March 13th, 2022
Sermon by Pastor Tim Woodard
Second Sunday in Lent
Read Statement of Faith
“Hear now these words from the Gospel according to Luke, chapter nine, verses thirty-seven thru forty-three-a.”
37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39 Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40 I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father.
43 And all were astounded at the greatness of God.
“Having heard the teaching of this ancient healing event, all we need do is accept its implication for us here in this time and space in which we live.”
“A Gift of Healing”
“Peter, John, and James went up on the mountain to pray, with Jesus. And while he was praying, the appearance of Jesus’ face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses, and Elijah, talking to him.” /Luke 9:28b-30/ This ‘Transfiguration’ a true ‘mountaintop event’ is what three disciples experienced just prior to today’s reading regarding Jesus’ healing of the man’s son who had an unclean spirit. Jesus had charged the three disciples not to speak of the miraculous happening until after the Easter event, as it now appears in Luke’s gospel. Against this backdrop we now hear of how this healing, in today’s lesson, occurred. The combination of these two occasions clearly begin to prepare us for the miraculous message of Easter’s “New Life” message. All we need do, is grapple with who Jesus is and how we are to acknowledge the gift of healing. Let us pray today, that all unclean spirits are ‘rebuked’ leaving all who suffer healed.
Pastors, as well as those of us who sit in worship each week, listen with hope and anticipation to the preachers’ words, all of us, pray the words of the scripture lesson’s message, for today, will lift our spirits as we struggle with the hardships and disappointments of everyday life. Ironically, even preachers grow weary of the miracle stories in the gospels as they fear their authenticity is hard to convince others of. Possibly-because, even pastors and preachers now and then get stuck in the quagmire of the ‘all too real world’ in which we live. True, it is hard to replicate the written accounts of Jesus’ miracles. Yet, by different writers and sources, the miracle stories are there for us to ponder. Could it be that the oral tradition that carried these events for thirty years, and the translations from Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, and now in the English, which we speak, cloud the details even more? Possibly.
Possibly, if we are blind to the everyday miracles, we all encounter every day. Possibly, if we demand proof of a miracle that, by definition, is an event which is impossible. The breath of life itself is a miracle, a miracle that baffles doctors, nurses and anyone who has witnessed the birth of a child. By the time it is all written down and all technical data accumulated, it may seem, just another piece of science; but is it! Science has never been able to resolve or determine the ‘how’ of the miracle of our uniqueness – one from another. No, the birth of a new person, is a miracle, which no one fully understands. How many modern miracles must we discuss this morning before we all become believers once again? And what is impossible – do you know? During the time of Columbus, they thought the Earth flat, and that it would be impossible to sail a ship to the other side of the horizon. At one point in time, we believed that only birds could fly. Now look at the miracles of flight in the twenty-First Century. The impossible became possible – a miracle indeed.
While I was in the United States Air Force a miracle occurred; actually, many occurred. I was afraid of heights, yet a loud-mouthed TI convinced me I could indeed climb that 30-foot telephone pole and that 75-foot tower that swayed back and forth about three to four feet. Those that knew my fears were sure it was a miracle, as I did not faint halfway up and fall to my death. It would be easy to go on and on about the modern miracles you and I see – all the time. But you and I also know we have a fear of telling people about miracles for fear they think we are wacky, foolish, or at least they believe we have experienced a loss of coherence. The fact is… they do “lock people up” for saying that they saw the most impossible things! To the nonbeliever most miracles can be explained away, or they can talk themselves out of telling anyone… cause what they experienced, or saw is impossible. It is easy to understand, who dares tell another that their loved one came to talk with them in the night – just before their loved one died in the hospital five miles down the street that night. Or the war veteran who only told his pastor and wife about the day a bomb dropped on the building he was in, causing it to collapse on top of him. Pinning him down so that he could not get free. Asking for help, he says: Jesus came and set him free. No, most war vets do not tell of such miracles; any more than they tell us of the hardships they faced or the awfulness of war which they saw. Either are too hard to accept.
Lee Koontz, back in 2010 spoke of the transfiguration event; clearly an impossible miracle to be sure. Lee tells us that “We do tend to get lost in the clouds; I think. There are times when the distance between Sunday and Monday seems to be about a million miles, and the path from mountaintop to dark valley subtly difficult to find.” Our time together on Sundays averages about an hour or so. A great many, if not most, come to worship praying for an uplift of their spirits. We are seeking a spark of new hope as we seek new energy and new willingness to go forward with our lives, especially when things have bogged down. Does this describe you or a loved one or the person sitting next to you? If yes, then you understand what Lee was saying to us. When we get-lost in a negative troublesome situation, we feel like we are in the darkest valley. Sunlight, the spark of hope from last Sunday is buried under new calamities or situations. Yes, sometimes hope seems a million miles away.
You and I, we are responsible for: believing and trusting God. As Jesus responded to the man whose son was ‘tortured’ by an unclean spirit, Jesus clearly indicated that he needed to have more faith. However, Jesus expels that which was torturing the boy and heals him at once. Leaving those who witnessed the event with – astonishment. Why? Because Jesus once again did the impossible. Do not get confused as we talk of miracles. God also gave us brains, and the ability to reason. Thus, we can talk ourselves out of believing in the miracles of Christ and/or the miracles of any devoted disciple of God’s beloved Son. I have witnessed it often.
Take for example the guy or gal seeking a little spiritual help who stops, pauses, and asks God by simply saying a prayer. “God, I need your help and some direction, I am lost.” A moment later as they pull their car to the side of the road, they realize there is a hotel and a restaurant, where they can get a bite to eat and a place to sleep. The person had been distraught and had gotten lost while driving aimlessly around. The next morning, with a clear head they adept to their new life situation and move on with their new life. Was that a miracle? We will never know for sure. The man of faith would say, of course, a simple prayer can be miraculous. The non-believer tells us, no, they just used common sense and got food and a night’s sleep.
Hope comes from our faith in the ‘impossible’ things that are yet to be! The world we live in needs new hope. Are we part of the solution or are we part the problem? A simple question, but a difficult one to answer. What of the ‘woman of faith,’ who strives to put her knowledge to work seeking to breathe a breath of clean fresh air into an old warn out enterprise. Very quickly there is a bump in the road. There is always something to stumble upon. What to do next? Yes, you are right, pause and pray about it. Sort out the facts from fiction. Ask God to help clarify the objective and work toward the resolution and it is simply amazing how quickly the road ahead refocuses. It takes faith. There is a friend who often says “I trust God” but ‘gee-whiz’ I wish God would stop ‘testing’ my faith! Yes, we often may feel the same. Please God do not ‘entrust’ me with so much! Faith does not need to be an obstacle which causes us to stumble. Rather, faith is the tool which shall open the doors which we find shut as we approach them, yet open when we arrive.
The situation the father faced in our scripture today was no laughing matter. He was desperate to get his son help. It was an impossible situation. Yes, it truly was an impossible situation. An unclean spirit possessed his son. When we have a crisis in our families, do we always believe a miracle will fix it all? If your son were born blind, would you believe that a handful of mud ‘rubbed on his eyes’ and then ‘washed away’ would cure him, if told by a charismatic preacher, like the man Jesus? Modern parents, of a crippled child, seek out the best surgeons and will seek them before they would consider consulting with a holy healer. How hard would it be for the average parent, a parent like you or say your daughter, now a mother, come to believe that a prayer to God would have influence on the child’s health? What would it take for you to believe… in a miracle cure?
We live in a time when most non church goers do not believe in the miraculous healing stories contained in the gospels yet do believe in the miraculous medical procedures developed over the past Centuries. What surgeons do today is miraculous in the eyes of our great grandparents, as today’s surgical procedures were impossible when they were young. Why then, is it so hard to believe that Jesus was able to do unbelievable Miraculous healings – as the Son of God?! Surely, the anxious parent, of the boy needing healing, came to Jesus believing that his son would be ‘transformed’ and healed that day, even though his ‘unbelief’ was there for all to see as well!
Do we still hesitate to take everything to God, simply because our humanness tells us what we pray for is – impossible? Are we still a part of the ‘faithless generation’ Jesus speaks of!? Let us, rather, be among those who “Were astounded at the greatness of God.” /Luke 9:43a/