JESUS IS A PHYSICIAN, NOT A MORTICIAN
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
September 24, 2017
40 Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. 41 And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus' feet, he implored him to come to his house, 42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.
As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. 43 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. 45 And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” 47 And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
49 While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler's house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” 50 But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” 51 And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. 52 And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” 53 And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” 55 And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat. 56 And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened.
— Luke 8:40-56, ESV
It sounds almost blasphemous to suggest that Jesus was poor at something. How could it be? Our Lord was, is, and always will be perfect in every way, to be sure. But during His earthly ministry He was poor, in more ways than one.
I’ll just go ahead and say it. Jesus was a poor mortician. He was the great physician, but He was a poor mortician. The Jesus of Nazareth Funeral Home would have gone out of business in a hurry, for the Lord Jesus Christ could not seem to bring Himself to bury the dead.
Perhaps we should major on His prowess as a physician before we point out His peculiarities as a mortician. This text allows us to do both, and more, as Luke culminates this section of the Gospel by documenting God’s sovereign power over nature and the spirit world, sickness and death.
Jesus was the Great Physician
The medical profession has come a long way in two thousand years. There precious few good doctors in the first century, one of whom is the author of this Gospel, but their understanding and ability to heal diseases was extremely limited. None could cure what ailed this little girl nor the hemorrhaging woman. Jesus, on the other hand, was a physician with omniscient understanding and omnipotent ability. Nothing was, or is, impossible for Him.
When He returned from His ministry trip to Gadara, Jesus found the line at His hometown clinic in Capernaum very long. Two people, a ruling elder of the synagogue named Jairus and an anonymous bleeding woman, pushed their way to the front of the queue. The Lord had healed before and the expectation was that He would heal again. Indeed He did, and this made His fame soar. But Jesus poked a hole in His popularity by asking the recipients of His miracles to keep quiet about them. This “messianic secret” was necessary because He had something much more important to do and something even greater to give than health and wealth.
When it was God’s will, Jesus never failed to heal. He healed with a word, He healed with a touch, He even healed without looking, as in the case with this woman who reached out and touched His cloak. He would have healed Jairus’ daughter, too, if she had not died before He arrived. People loved going to Jesus for healing because He did not fail and He didn’t charge for His services. This is a far cry from the contemporary frauds who pollute the channels of religious television.
Of course, there are critics of the Bible and skeptics of the supernatural who doubt Jesus’ miracles. Personally, I have never questioned them. I do wonder, however, why there were so rare, relatively speaking. Millions and billions have lived, fallen ill, and died on this planet. Jesus the great physician was here for such a short time, in such a small place, healing only a select few. The Scriptures prove to me that Jesus was a great physician, but Jesus wanted to be known as something much more than a mere physician. What about a mortician?
Jesus was a Poor Mortician
Jesus was a great physician, as Jairus well knew. But by the time he found Jesus and brought the Lord back to his house, his only daughter had died. A great physician would not do. That’s when Jesus proved to be a poor mortician.
Jairus’ people were coming to grips with his daughter’s death and were ready to start the funeral proceedings. Christ had other plans, which were mocked by the mourners. Jesus got away from the nay-sayers and surrounded Himself and the deceased little lady with the parents who loved her the most, and the people Jesus loved to be with the most, His “inner circle” of Peter, James, and John. Instead of a committal prayer, Jesus uttered a resurrection command. “Child arise,” He said, and arise to life she did. So shocked were the parents that Jesus had to prod them to give the girl some food.
Jesus had broken up a funeral earlier, resurrecting the son of the widow of Nain (ref. Luke 7:11-17). He would rob the cemetery of His dear dead friend, Lazarus, at the end of His public ministry (ref. John 11:1-44). This middle miracle makes Jairus’ daughter (ref. Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:22-43, and Luke 8:40-56) one of only three people the four Gospels tell of Jesus raising a person from the dead.
I’ve known several fine morticians in my life and ministry. We pastors work with them often, too often it seems. I’ve never known one like Jesus. But even more scarce than His healing miracles, Jesus hardly ever unleashed His ability to raise the dead. Chances are, the Lord will not be there in the body when the body of your loved one is laid down in the grave. A mere mortician will do for us.
Jesus miraculously healed the sick, for a very short time on earth. I am sure that God still gives healing miracles which cannot be explained in any scientific way, but I am equally sure it is quite rare. Jesus raised the dead, on at least three occasions, but we must admit that three out of billions is not a high percentage. Jesus is the great physician and the poor mortician, but those are not the titles He desires. His miracles are parables of something greater.
Jesus is Lord
Jesus was the great physician, for a handful of folks for a short period of time. Jesus was a poor mortician, raising the dead instead of burying them, but only three times. But Jesus is Lord, all the time. God has come to us in the flesh, deity and humanity, in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ performed miracles, on flesh and blood people, to prove to the people that He is Lord, God, Savior, Sovereign over all creation. This is good news and bad.
The good news is, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (ref. Romans 10:13). Jesus told the bleeding woman, “Your faith has saved you” (a better translation than “made you well”). He told Jairus and his wife, “Do not fear, only believe, and she will be saved” (a better translation than “be well”). The woman was healed but she later died. Jairus’ daughter was raised from the dead, but she later died again, too. Look around this room and the day will come when none of us will be in this room. But if by the grace of God we have faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, we will enjoy an abundant life now and an eternal life with God and the saints forever and ever.
The bad news, which is not really bad unless you are bent on the property gospel or some other modern American caricature of God, is that if you receive this gift of life from God, it comes with giving God control of your life, and death. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” (ref. Romans 14:8) and “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (ref. Philippians 1:21).
It pleased the Lord to heal this woman’s bleeding disorder when other merely human physicians could not. It pleased the Lord to resurrect Jairus’ daughter instead of placing her little cold body in the grave. Somehow, some way, their improved health and extended life glorified God and communicated the gospel to more of God’s chosen people. However, if poor health or an early grave could have better served God’s purpose, Jesus would have remained out of reach if not out of sight.
I am not saying we should never cry out to God for healing, nor that God does not heal in our day and time. We should, always, and He does, sometimes. But ultimately, every miracle of physical life is a parable of eternal life, and it is our eternal lives matter much, much more to God.
Glory in this great physician and poor mortician. He did miracles! Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead. But what does the this part of the Gospel really teach us? It tells us that we are all sick with the disease of sin, and uncured it will kill us, physically and spiritually. We must bow before the Lord and reach for Him in desperation, like a drowning man reaching his hand out of the water, and God will save us, every time.
In this passage we find a God who will sometimes heal us, a few times bring us back to life, but always take our hand, forgive us of our sins, give us His Spirit, and walks with us throughout time and eternity. So call upon the great physician. Call upon the poor mortician. But most importantly, call upon the name of the Lord!
Copyright © 2017 Lake Hamilton Baptist Church, All rights reserved.
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org