Summary: The text was the lectionary text for the 6th. Sunday after Pentecost with the theme that Jesus is present to heal His people today.
SICKNESS, HEALTH, AND HEALING by R. David Reynolds
The late Bruce Thielemann, pastor of Pittsburgh’s First Presbyterian Church tells, the story of a clergy friend Southern California who knew a woman who had been in a mental hospital many years suffering from extreme depression. She used to just sit on a bench every day staring at the earth—no conversation, no response. One day a new doctor who’d never seen her came down the hall and greeted her. He said, “Good morning!” She made no reply. “What is your name?” he said. No answer. “Well, my name is Doctor Heven, H-E-V-E-N, and I’ll be by to see you again tomorrow.” Then he started away.
“But she lifted her head and said to him—and because he did not know the patient, he did not know how remarkable it was that she was saying anything at all—‘What did you say your name was?’
“He said, ‘Heven, H-E-V-E-N.’”
“Now, somehow in the confused process of that wounded mind, the woman confused the word Heven with the word Heaven, and she thought of God’s love made know to us in Christ. The next day she said to everyone she met in the hospital, ‘This is the day which the Lord has made.’ And the day after that, ‘Yea, I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Evil, but I fear no evil.’ Within six days she was saying, ‘I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.’ Within five weeks she had been released from the hospital, and for the last fourteen years she has been carrying out her responsibilities as a leading teacher in Southern California” (--Bruce Thielemann, “Christus Imperator,” Preaching Today, Tape 55).
The awesome, healing power of Jesus is the same, “Yesterday, today, and forever.” This same Jesus, Who lovingly let the sick touch Him in the District of Gennesaret nearly two thousand years ago, wants to touch you today. “As many as touched the fringe of His cloak; were being cured.” This same Jesus wants to make you whole today.
Gennesaret is a district on the Northwest corner of the Sea of Galille that covers only an area of about four square miles. It is home to the cities of Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Chorazin, places where Jesus frequently ministered. Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene, “out of whom Jesus cast seven demons, is also in Gennesaret. Although the Gadarene Demoniac, the man possessed by a legion of demons that Jesus cast into a herd of pigs, was from the opposite side of the Sea of Galilee, the miracle of his healing is recoded by Mark in the previous chapter.
But how does all this relate to our lives today? We are just like the people that came to Jesus in Gennesaret that day. There were at least three steps they took to Jesus that if we take will lead us to healing an wholeness in our lives today.
I. THEY RECOGNIZED THAT JESUS COULD HELP THEM:
Verse 54, “When they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him,” i. e., “They recognized Jesus.” How do you recognize Jesus? Recognition implies knowledge or understanding. To recognize a person means you have some knowledge of that individual or know him/her personally; the two of you have a personal relationship. When you recognize a person, the two of you are mutually acquainted.
I want us to recall an Old Testament incident that comes to mind here. Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh in Exodus chapter two to give him to give him God’s message, “Let My People go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the Wilderness.” In verse two we read, “But Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go.’” Pharaoh was not acquainted with God; God had no part in his life style or thinking; no part in his plans. So God showed His power to Pharaoh and the Egyptians in ten traumatic plagues that proved His awesome power. Pharaoh finally came to know Who God is, but only fully when his armies were drowned in the Red Sea.
The people of Gennesaret knew Who the LORD was, they knew His awesome power that had healed Mary, the Gadarene Demoniac, and others; therefore, they “recognized” He could help them. Some of their neighbors had already had personal encounters with Him. To know Jesus is to have a personal relationship with Him, and He came to make it possible for the people of His day and for all of us to have a personal relationship with God for all eternity. This was the One Whose awesome power could help them; they recognized this truth; therefore, they. . .