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The Great Physician At Work

February 6, 2021 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
February 7, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Epiphany 5
The Great Physician At Work

And immediately he left the synagogue and, along with James and John, entered into the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever and they immediately told him about her. [Jesus] took her by the hand and raised her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening after sunset they brought him all those who were sick, and those possessed by demons, and the whole city stood stationed at the door. And he cured many who were ill with various diseases, and evicted many demons; and he would not permit them to speak because they had known him. (Mark 1:29-34)

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When the Lord had finished his work at the synagogue of Capernaum, when the teaching was complete, and the demons expelled we learn from today’s gospel that he left the synagogue, his fame preceding him, and entered the home of Simon and Andrew. But Jesus is never off duty.

There is never a time when "all is calm”. When we don't need his salvation and power, his cross and resurrection, his Word and Sacrament, his liturgy and intercession to save and defend us from the Evil One! From he who is dedicated to only one thing: our everlasting sorrow as his slaves.

We have seen a demonstration of his intentions in the last 12 months when he deceived the whole planet at one time, and made everyone irrational, viro-phobic and insane together.

But as Jesus is never off duty, nor does the devil ever rest. He knows his time is short and there is nothing misery loves more than company. Your company. Your eternal company of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

When he is not tormenting our baptized souls with lust for money, lust for power, lust for lust, and lust for our own glorification, he torments us with illnesses of every kind. With infirmities of body and mind; heart and soul; courage and stability – case in point: Peter's mother in law:

We don't know more about her than what St. Mark writes. We know that a fever had knackered her, knocked her down, and sent her to a sick bed from which she could not rise up. No one can say for sure HOW sick she was but we can speculate that she was very ill; and probably near death.

Our speculation gains traction when we learn what the disciples did, and what Jesus did.

First they told the Lord about her, but they were not simply relaying information, they were praying. They were interceding and supplicating the Great Physician of body and soul to intervene. They believed he could help. They had just witnessed him evict a stubborn and uncooperative demon. It was a good day for the man; but a terrible day for the demon who was now homeless. But demons never remain homeless for long, and so be careful who you invite into your sacred temple.

As for Jesus, he could do no other thing than restore her to health. He was on the ultimate mission trip. But he does something for her that he did not do for the demon-possessed man in last week's gospel. He took her by the hand and "raised her up.”

But what is not plain in any translation is that he actually "resurrected her." The same word St. Mark the Evangelist uses of the Lord's own resurrection from the dead, he uses here.

As the Lord was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, here we see a prequal of it. Yes there is a connection between this resurrection from the sick bed, and the Lord's resurrection from the tomb. The connection is this:

that illness is small death. It reminds us that we are mortal because of sin, and that no one leaves this earth alive.

But St. Paul assures us that: if we die with Christ in baptism, we shall also live with him (Romans 6:8) and live we do! God be glorified!

Yeah! Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for Jesus is with us, his cross and his resurrection comfort us; and he sets a eucharistic table before us in the presence of our enemies.

But what is further amazing about today's gospel is just how many sick people there were in Galilee that day. According to St. Mark:

"That evening after sunset they brought him all those who were sick, and those inhabited by demons, and the whole city stood stationed at the door. And he cured many who were ill with various diseases, and evicted many demons; and he would not permit them to speak because they had known him."

Also not evident in English translations of Scripture is that the whole city had permanently camped out at his door. They “synagogued” there St. Mark tells us. Assembled, that is, for religious purposes. This was no tourist attraction! But wherever Jesus is, there is a hospital for those infected with sin and death, and no one was leaving until they got what they came for.

And neither should you!

Nor was there any impatience on the Lord’s part; nor any shortage of power to undo every single infirmity. You did not need to call the parish office, then, for tickets, or reservations, as some churches demand these days. Nor did he require you to wear a mask – for his indestructible flesh is immune to illness; and every affliction is undone when he touches it.

Yes, the Great Physician's parking lot was full. And if people could only comprehend that all infirmity is "harmatiagenic” which means “caused by sin,” then the church's parking lot would be as full as the Cleveland Clinic's.

But there is no reason to lament, but every reason to follow the example of Peter's mother in law instead. Let us, too, rise up from the absolution, rise up from the altar with the Lord’s Body and Blood still warm on our tongues. Let us “rise up as on the wings of an eagle,” as Isaiah the Prophet exhorts, and serve Christ the Lord; by serving all men with sacrificial love in his name. Only let your love be pure, let it be true, and let it never end.

And let also heed that word of Isaiah that says, “He determines the number of the stars, and calls them all by name."

This versicle of Isianic liturgy should fill our hearts with giddiness so that no earthly care could ever trouble us again. The Lord's salvation is very, very, very big!

He created the magnificent stars with a word.

No man knows their number, but he does.

He knows their location.

He knows their composition.

And he gave each one of them a name!

But don't hear that as mere sentiment, but rather let us think of each of the luminous stars as an icon of each of the redeemed; with Jesus as the Bright Morning Star and we his vivid constellation. (Dan. 12:3)

Or said yet another way we have an unspeakably exalted future awaiting us in heaven. When mortality transmogrifies us; then immortality will transfigure us into immortal and incorruptible images of our God.

And when we understand things in these terms (and what other way is there) then we apprehend what St. Paul means when he writes that our, “present sufferings are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Rom. 8:18).

And so now let us do what the crowds did that day. Let us assemble ourselves at Christ’s altar to eat and drink the “medicine of immortality” that we may serve him now, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.