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Healing and Helping

Healing and Helping

Have you noticed there are some people famous enough to be known by a single name?

In entertainment I can think of Cher and Elvis.

In sports, I can think of Kobe and Shaq, as in Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, in basketball, and Tiger, as in Tiger Woods in golf.

As important as Cher, Elvis, Kobe, Shaq, Tiger, and Titus are, there is someone else known by a single name who is even more important. We just celebrated His birth. His name? Jesus.

Yes, He is often referred to as Jesus Christ. The second part of that is a reminder Jesus was set apart by God to be the Messiah - the Savior of the world. But when the name Jesus is mentioned, everyone knows who that is.

He is known for what He did 

So, too, are Cher, who has sold over 100 million records as a soloist, and Elvis, who had the most Top 40 songs ever at 115.

So, too, are Kobe and Shaq with their number of NBA championships - 5 and 4 respectively. And All-Star appearances - 33 between them. And points scored as professionals - 62,239 between them. So, too, is Tiger with 140 total victories world-wide, including 14 major championships.

But  Jesus. His accomplishments are even more impressive because His achievements have, not entertainment value, but eternal impact.

For instance, Jesus healed people.

If we were to consider a total list of recorded healings, we would be here a very, very long time. Let’s think about just a few.

One came very early in Jesus’ ministry. It is recorded inMark 1:29-31. 

Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew, two of His disciples. As He did so, Jesus discovered Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever. She was bed-ridden by the condition. 

Jesus went to her. He took her hand. He lifted her up. Immediately the fever left her. She was so healthy she was able to fix a meal and serve it.

Another healing is recorded in Luke 5:12-13. Jesus was approached by a man with leprosy. The leper begged for healing, saying to Jesus, “Lord, if You will, You can make me clean.”

Jesus - get this - touched the leper. That was unheard of. No healthy person ever even got close to a leper because of the disease being so contagious. But Jesus touched the leper. How good that touch must have felt to the leper.

Jesus said, “I will. Be clean.” Immediately the leprosy left the man.

In Luke 7:1-10, a Roman army officer sent representatives to Jesus to ask for healing for a slave. Jesus responded by starting to go to where the slave was.

Before reaching that destination, the officer sent other representatives, telling Jesus not to come to the house, but to simply speak the words of healing from where He was. The officer’s reasoning was that he was not worthy of having Jesus under his roof, and Jesus had such power His words could be effective even at a distance.

Jesus was impressed by the faith of the officer. Jesus did indeed heal the slave from a distance.

Back to Mark, this time Mark 5:1-15, one day, as Jesus and His disciples were near an area of tombs, they were approached by a man with unclean spirits. A dangerous man strong enough to break any bindings people had tried to use on him. A scary man who spent his days and nights crying out.

Jesus ordered the demons out of the man. The result was complete healing. As soon as the demons left him, the man put clothes on, sat down, and engaged in a conversation marked by sanity.

And this. A healing that happened very late in Jesus’ ministry. A healing that took place on the night of Jesus’ arrest.

In Luke 22:50-51, Jesus, His disciples with Him, was being confronted by those planning to arrest Him. At one point, one of the disciples grabbed a sword and swung it at a slave of the High Priest. The blade hit the right side of the slave’s head, cutting off an ear.

The first thing Jesus did was order, “No more of this.” He then touched the slave’s ear and healed him. Whether He picked up the ear and put it back on or grew a new ear, or simply took care of the wound is not clear, but the slave was healed.

What a wide variety of healings. One where no notice was taken outside the home of Simon and Andrew. Another benefitted a leper, who was an outcast until he met Jesus. One helped a Roman army officer. Jews had no respect for those considered enemies, but Jesus healed the officer’s slave, and He did it from a distance. How impressive that was. Another showed Jesus’ power over demons. The last one mentioned happened when Jesus was under great pressure, knowing the arrest would lead to a sleepless night before crucifixion the next day. Jesus still took time to heal.

What did Jesus do to warrant being known by a single name? He healed people. In addition, He helped the needy.

As is the case with Jesus’ healing people, if we were to consider a total list of recorded times He helped the needy, we would be here a very, very long time. Let’s again think about just a few examples.

Again in Luke 7, this time Luke 7:11-15, Jesus and His disciples went to the city of Nain. As they approached the city’s gate, a funeral procession was leaving the city. The one who had died was a man who was the only son of a widow. That means the woman was completely without financial and emotional support, which means she was very needy.

When the Lord saw the woman, He had compassion for her. He acted out His compassion, first telling her to not weep. Then going to the dead man, touching what held his casket, He said to the man, “I say to you, arise.”

Immediately the man sat up and began to speak. He was not only healed. He was raised from the dead.

Jesus took care of the needs of two other women, those two told about in John.

In John 4:7-26 , Jesus met a woman at a well. A Samaritan woman. A woman by herself because she had a reputation of being a home-wrecker. 

The woman’s reputation was accurate. She had broken up many marriages in her city. However, instead of adding His condemnation, Jesus offered her salvation. He offered her eternal life.

Whether the woman accepted His offer is not shared. However, the woman was excited enough to return to her city and tell others about Jesus. That gave many more people the chance to meet Him.

In John 8:3-11, Jesus met another immoral woman, this one caught in the act of adultery and then dragged before Jesus. When there, the woman’s accusers demanded of Jesus what should be done to her.

Jesus’ response could legally have been to have the woman stoned to death. That is what Jewish law called for in cases of adultery. Instead, He paused before stooping to write something on the floor. 

What He wrote is not known. Some suspect He might have written the sins of those who were accusing the woman.

Jesus then stood up and said, “Let him who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” He then stooped a second time and wrote some more on the floor.

One by one, from the oldest to the youngest - not only the accusers, but everyone there at that time - all left, leaving only the woman and Jesus.

Jesus looked at the woman and asked, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered. Jesus said, “Neither to I condemn you. Go, and do not sin again.”

Whether that woman fulfilled the challenge to sin no more is not shared. However, the woman had the opportunity to do better in the future than she had in the past. She had that opportunity because Jesus helped her when she was in need.

And this. Something that happened as Jesus was being crucified. Still in John, now John 19:26-27. 

As Jesus was being crucified, He noticed His mother Mary and His disciple John standing and watching. 

Knowing John’s tender spirit - knowing what was happening would make John emotionally needy - Jesus looked at Mary and said, “Woman, behold your son.” With those words, Jesus gave Mary the responsibility of taking care of John.

Knowing Mary was also emotionally needy and would require someone to take care of her financial needs, Jesus looked at John and said to him, “Behold, your mother.” 

John took Mary to his home, doing so just a few minutes later. Together, they helped each other. They were able to do that because of Jesus’ desire to help them when they were needy.

What a wide variety of examples of Jesus helping people who were needy. In the first one, a woman who was financially and emotionally needy. In the next two, women who were threatened because of immoralities of which they were guilty. Jesus helped even them. The last one happened as Jesus was being crucified. Despite the pain and His knowledge He would very soon die, He still took time to help the needy.

What did Jesus do to warrant being known by a single name? He healed people. He helped the needy. In addition, He helped the lost. Those lost spiritually.

As is the case with Jesus’ healing people and helping the needy, if we were to consider a total list of recorded times He helped the spiritually lost, we would be here a very, very long time. Let’s one more time think about just a few examples.

One example is recorded in Mark  6:31-34. Jesus and His disciples were trying to get off by themselves to rest. However, people noticed where they were headed. They hurried to that spot so they could be with Him some more.

Jesus saw the crowd. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd and took pity on them. Though Jesus needed rest, He was more interested in helping those who were spiritually lost, so He taught them many things, which of course included spiritual things, including how to be saved, which was and is to accept Jesus as Savior.

Another example returns us to John. It is something told about Jesus in John 3:16-17, when Jesus met with Nicodemus one night. God gave Jesus, and Jesus was willing to be given, so that whosoever - either gender, every nationality, all age groups, those who try to be good and those who in the past have sinned greatly - so that whosoever believes in Jesus - whosoever accepts Him as the Savior He is - should not perish spiritually, but have eternal life. Life with Him in Heaven forever. 

Added is this. For God sent Jesus, and Jesus willingly came, not to condemn the world. Condemning anyone is not His desire. But that through Him - through Jesus - the world might be saved. Jesus came to help - to save - the spiritually lost.

And this. Two things Jesus said as He was being crucified, these two recorded in Luke 23.

Verse 34. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” How amazing that Jesus did not condemn, but asked forgiveness for, the very ones whose actions had led Him to suffer and die on the cross.

A bit later, beginning with v.39, when one of the two men also being crucified at the time - one on either side of Him - asked for mercy - spiritual mercy - Jesus answered, “Today you will be with Me.”

Think of it. Jesus, even when He was tired, taught people spiritual things, thereby showing His willingness to help the spiritually lost. In fact, so great was His willingness that He left Heaven to be with us and die so that all who accept Him will no longer be spiritually lost. Even those who mistreat Him and violate His ways can be saved if they turn around and accept Him.

*       *       *      *       *

You know what? I am going to take a wild guess I am never going to sell even one record. I will therefore never have a Top 40 hit. So I will never be like Cher or Elvis.

You know what? I am going to take another wild guess I am never going to score one point at any level of basketball. I tried golf 40 years ago. The one thing I learned was to give up the game since I had absolutely not an ounce of skill. I will never be like Kobe, Shaq, or Tiger.

On a more serious level, I will never have the skills of Jesus. However, listen to this challenge in Ephesians 5:1-2. This comes right after the apostle Paul, who wrote these verses, taught Christians to put away bad things like bitterness, wrath, and slander and put on good things like kindness and forgiveness. “Therefore, be imitators of God.” When we do that, we imitate Jesus. “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us.”

Imitate Jesus.

Will I ever heal anyone physically? Of course not. If I was a doctor, then yes, but I am not a doctor. So I cannot imitate Jesus in the way of healing. But I can certainly tell people about the Lord’s healing power. I can pray for those who are ill. I can help them accept the Lord’s healing touch. That is one way I can walk in love.

Will I ever help those in need? I hope I do that now in at least some ways. My prayer is that I will continue to imitate Jesus in helping in ways and with things He makes available to me. That will be another example of walking in love.

Will I help the lost? Will I seek after the lost so I can help them? Will I see people as ready to be harvested? Will I help them to the extent of forgiving them, which will be necessary for me to have the desire to see them helped? To see them saved from their sins? My prayer is that I will seek to save the lost, in that way imitating Jesus, which will be another example of walking in love.

Imitate Jesus. Walk in love as He did. That is what Paul, in Ephesians, challenges us to do. A challenge that can be met. We know that because of something Jesus said, recorded in John 14.

The chapter opens with Jesus preparing His disciples for His crucifixion and death. We know, of course, that on the third day after that, Jesus would rise from the tomb, but it was going to be a traumatic time for the disciples. Jesus was trying to prepare them for what was ahead.

Jesus’ preparation included the call to believe in Him. Listen to this in verse 12. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me will also do the works that I do, and greater works than these will he do.” 

Again, I cannot, in my power, do anything spiritually worthwhile. But I can pray that Jesus will work through me. I can introduce people to the one who can and does heal people and help the needy and the spiritually lost.

What did Jesus do to warrant being known by a single name? He did not record music. He did not shoot baskets or golf balls. He healed people. He helped the needy. He helped the spiritually lost. 

May I - may you - may we do the same. Not on our own, but using and reflecting His love and power and compassion.

The closing song for today is an invitation to Jesus to keep teaching us, including how to imitate Him. It is Savior, Teach Me, Day by Day.

Savior, teach me day by day,

Love’s sweet lesson to obey;

Sweeter lesson cannot be -

Loving Him who first loved me.

With a childlike heart of love,

At Thy bidding may I move,

Prompt to serve and follow Thee -

Loving Him who first loved me.

Teach me all Thy steps to trace,

Strong to follow in Thy grace,

Learning how to love from Thee -

Loving Him who first loved me.

Love in loving finds employ,

In obedience all her joy;

Ever new that joy will be - 

Loving Him who first loved me.

Jesus, out of all those known by a single name, You are the greatest. Thank You for Your healing power. Thank You for Your care for the needy. Thank You for Your concern for those spiritually lost. Thank You that whatever of those categories we have been or are in, You have taken care or offer to take care of us. Thank You that we, in Your name, can have eternal impacts on others. Keep us interested in imitating You. Amen.

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