Jesus: the Divine Physician, the Great Healer

February 2, 2018

The Pastor's Page

Divine PhysicianThe gospels in early Ordinary Time of Year B are taken from the beginning of the Gospel of Mark, and the texts from Week Four to Week Seven constitute a vertical thread, a spiritual concept or theme that connects a set of readings over a series of weeks. The thread is that Jesus is the Divine Physician (see Mk 2:17), an astounding miracle worker, a phenomenal healer, one who possesses the creative and restorative power that belongs to God alone.

In ancient culture, people had four main fears: natural disasters, demonic possession, illness, and death. No human being has power over any one of these injurious or lethal forces, yet Jesus had power over them all. Collectively, these gospels make a convincing statement about who Jesus is. His cures far exceeded human power. He wielded unparalleled power. It was divine power. Jesus is the Son of God.

Week 4B: The Cure of the Demoniac (Mk 1:21-28). In this gospel Jesus encountered a man possessed by an unclean spirit. People knew nothing of metabolic disorders, neurologic disease, or mental illness. If a person demonstrated a peculiar behavior, had seizures or spasms, or went into convulsions, people thought that it was caused by an evil spirit because demons make bad things happen. Jesus sternly rebuked the demon, “Come out of him!” (Mk 1:25), and once Jesus issued his order, “the unclean spirit convulsed him and … came out of him” (Mk 1:26). If someone else had given the order, nothing would have happened, but when Jesus gave the word, the man was cured. It was power that the people had never witnessed before.

Week 5B: The Cure of Peter’s Mother-In-Law’s Fever and the People at the Door (Mk 1:29-39). Later the same day Jesus went to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law had a fever. People knew nothing about bacteria and viruses. They did not have antibiotics, fever reducers like Ibuprofen or Tylenol, or IV fluids. People dreaded fevers because they quickly raged out of control and often caused death. All Jesus did was to grasp her hand, and the fever left her immediately. His power was simply astonishing. Later the same evening, the sick were brought to the door. There were no hospitals, diagnostics, or surgical options. Those with disease were hopeless and left to languish, but Jesus cured many of them (Mk 1:34).

Week 6B: The Cure of the Leper (Mk 1:40-45). People were petrified at the thought of leprosy. Without accurate medical information, skin disorders were lumped together and considered highly contagious. The victims were forced to live in colonies in isolated places and people “avoided them like the plague.” When Jesus cleansed the leper, not only did he cure his infirmity, he also restored him to his family and the wider community. The miracle changed the man’s life forever and was cause for tremendous joy.

Week 7B: The Cure of the Paralytic (Mk 2:1-12). A paralytic was brought to Jesus on a mat. Paralysis can be caused by a spinal injury, and it often is a permanent disability. There were no MRI or CT scans, no rod or pins, no reconstructive procedures, and no orthopedic surgeons. There was no hope for a normal future. Jesus told the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your mat, and go home” (Mk 2:11), and he was able to do so. Jesus did the impossible; he reversed an irreversible condition. It was awesome to behold. The people were so astounded that they immediately glorified God (Mk 2:12). The possessed, sick, and injured were blessed with life in his name.

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About Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael A. Van Sloun is the pastor of Saint Bartholomew of Wayzata, MN. Ministerial interests include weekly Bible study, articles on theological topics, religious photography, retreats on Cross spirituality, and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

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