The Great Physician

Today, we have the gospel of Christ (Romans 1.16) and the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9) as the medicine from the Great Physician.

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In considering the two groups Jesus had contact with in Luke 5.27-32, a riddle to solve is which group is in a better place, spiritually speaking. Please take the time to read these verses right now. Was it the pompous and self-righteous scribes and Pharisees who would not deign themselves needful to come to Jesus for healing? The very ones who came to criticize the fact that Jesus was seeking the lost by being in their midst? Or, would it be the friends of Levi, who were tax collectors and sinners—WHO KNEW THEY WERE SINNERS and willing to listen to Levi’s new friend? Both groups are sinners, without doubt, but one group seems nearer understanding that fact and thus being nearer the possibility of doing something about it.

I fear that we often lose sight of the real lesson to be gleaned from this passage in Luke. We do have here one of the names or titles given to Jesus in Scripture. It is most comforting and appealing to think of our Lord as a physician who can heal us from the ravages of sin! I love the song: The Great Physician, by William Hunter and J.H. Stockton. The words of the first stanza are as follows:

The great Physician now is near,

The sympathizing Jesus;

He speaks the drooping heart to cheer,

O hear the voice of Jesus.

Certainly the words of this song are true and they are comforting. However, we may miss something very important about this text by focusing too much on the idea of Jesus as physician. In context, He was giving an answer to the criticism of the scribes and Pharisees, remember. It seems to me that using the figure of Himself as physician is almost incidental.

Evidently, Jesus felt that these publicans and sinners were “live” and “valid” for prospecting. Jesus would be teaching them just as He did anyone else while He went about His mission of seeking and saving that which was lost (Luke 19.10).

Are you more or less likely to respond to the good news when you are fully aware of your sinful condition? Brother Winkler used to teach us in preaching school that the job of the preacher is to: comfort the afflicted and likewise to AFFLICT THE COMFORTABLEThe Pharisees could not begin to commence to start to think of themselves being in need of anything that Jesus of Nazareth could provide them. How foolish they were and how foolish is anyone who thinks as they did! Jesus lowers the boom on them in Matthew 23 because of their self-righteousness, showmanship, and hypocrisy.

It certainly is taught in Scripture that Christians need to be wary and watchful about the associations that we make. Paul warns in 1 Corinthians 15.33… Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. The NKJV has it: Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” We must not allow ourselves to have the kind of contact with sinners that will put us at risk for being influenced negatively. But if we follow the example of Jesus, we will not be isolating ourselves completely from the world. We must come into contact with lost souls in order to save lost souls. Good judgment will have to be exercised in this matter, to be sure.

In this context when Jesus talks about the SICK needing a PHYSICIAN, He teaches an important lesson as He answers the faulty criticism spat out by the scribes and Pharisees. He is referencing Himself as the PHYSICIAN. He is referencing all men as the SICK. All men do need the balm that is possible because of the completed mission of our Lord Jesus. The lesson is, the ones who are willing to acknowledge a need for the medicine are the ones most likely to be helped by the efforts of the physician.

Today, we have the gospel of Christ (Romans 1.16) and the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9) as the medicine from the Great Physician. What are we to do with such valuable medicine as this? It has to be obvious that we must find the SICK (with all diligence) and administer the healing balm of the gospel and doctrine of Christ! As we go forth with this task, when we find precious souls who already realize their lost condition, we are at an advantage in placing before them the healing balm of the gospel of Christ! Let us be wise in following the example of THE GREAT PHYSICIAN!

At Thy Word

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In Luke 5.5 we have Simon Peter using the words of the title above. He did not come close to understanding the reason for letting the net down, as the Lord had just directed him (he openly questioned its wisdom), but he would do so at His word. He presents to us here one of the most remarkable instances of unquestioning obedience that is to be found in all of Scripture. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net (Luke 5.5).

I found some interesting comments about this incident from the late and great Bible scholar, Franklin Camp. He writes…

When one considers that Christ was a carpenter and Peter a fisherman one can imagine Peter’s thoughts. Just think of a carpenter telling a fisherman how to fish. It is even more suggestive in view of the fact they had fished all night and caught nothing. I think I can sense how Peter felt. It is as though he would say, “I do not think it will do any good, but we will do what you say.” The way to overcome doubt and questions about divine commands is to obey what the Lord says. Think what would have happened if Peter had just flatly refused to obey. Christ would not have forced him to let the nets down.

Discipleship is a challenge to faith. A disciple is a learner. Christ is the teacher. One does not learn by refusing to do what the Lord commands. Multitudes have found to their joy that blessings come when faith accepts the challenge and launches out in obedience to His will [Franklin Camp, Studies in Luke, Thomas Eaves, editor, p. 68-69].

I really like brother Camp’s statement: The way to overcome doubt and questions about divine commands is to obey what the Lord says. That seems to me to be quite a simple and yet elegant approach to life. The fact of the matter is, we will NEVER go wrong in following that prescription.

If we will only partake of the spirit of obedience demonstrated on this occasion by Simon Peter, we will certainly be the winners as a result! The result for Peter was that he hauled in such a multitude of fish that the nets began breaking (v. 6) and the boats began sinking (v. 7). The result for us is that we will live eternally in the beautiful home of the soul (John 14.1-6).

I have always been moved by the words Peter exclaims after seeing the Lord show His great power in the field which was Peter’s specialty. Listen to his statement of awe: Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord (Luke 5.8). Peter seems to me to be acknowledging that he was unable to show Jesus the respect and reverence He deserved and that he thus was not suitable to be in Jesus’ presence.

Thankfully, the Lord intervenes with words of encouragement to Peter, James, and John: Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men (v. 10). Read a little further and see that Peter, James, and John were ready to forsake all and follow Jesus (v. 11). They knew well that one who could do what they had just seen done would be able to provide anything they might possibly need.

Notice also, brother Camp’s statement: Multitudes have found to their joy that blessings come when faith accepts the challenge and launches out in obedience to His will. On one occasion an attempt was made to praise the mother of Jesus. His response at that time was to redirect the praise: Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it (Luke 11.28). The importance of unquestioning obedience to the will of the Lord needs to be emphasized more and more.

What advantage you and I have as we open our Bibles and have so freely available the amazing, completed, written, revelation from God! We can read about this miracle performed by Jesus and so many more. John tells us that there is a REASON for the recording of such powerful signs—John 20.30-31… And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Having LIFE through the name of Jesus is dependent upon believing that Jesus is the Christ! When we truly believe that fact, is it really any challenge to behave in the same way that Peter did in giving such a faithful response to the Lord’s command in Luke 5.5? Let us be challenged by the beautiful response of the Apostle Peter and say to the Lord, regarding whatever command might be given: AT THY WORD.

And They Were Astonished

A link to an article written by Tom Wacaster as he reflects upon the words of Matthew 13.54.

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Tom Wacaster is a great Bible student, preacher, teacher, and writer. I am thankful to own his commentaries and to have benefited from sermons I’ve heard from him. He has a website and I have it loaded into my RSS-reader. I always pay attention when I see something new he has written. Today I saw links to four articles. I would like to recommend you read them all. The one I will link to below is the one entitled: AND THEY WERE ASTONISHED. In this article the Lord Jesus Christ is exalted and praised and I am convinced that we NEVER can see enough of that kind of writing. Please visit Tom’s site to read this outstanding article by clicking HERE.

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