The Great Physician

Of the many names for Christ, the Great Physician has long resonated with me. It’s meaning and power have been immediately clear. It means the Strong Healer, the High Doctor, the Final Mender. While the phrase is not found in Scripture, Jesus heals many times. I see three distinct yet related ways in which Christ heals, and each is more profound and truly healing than the next.

First, he is a physical healer. The Gospels are full of Jesus healing lepers, the blind, even the dead. I tend to skim over this fact and head straight to the most profound healing that Jesus does, but it is significant. James 2:15-16. Christ’s love is so complete that even our physical bodies respond to it. This healing is a glimpse of heaven, where our healing will be perfected. It is also a memory of the Garden of Eden, before we needed healing.

Ignoring this type of healing is not remembering people as if you were there with them, Hebrews 13:3. The writer tells us to do this for people we are not even with, but I often fail at truly being with someone when they are right next to me. If something is important to someone, pay attention to it. Weep with those who weep. This is compassion. If physical healing is passed over as inconsequential, you make light of Jesus’ work and scoff at his commands.

However, this is not the most profound healing Christ does. Many people have made physical healing an occupation. It can be done without conviction and without love.

Second, Christ is an emotional healer. Pain and suffering are real, and the most profound pain is not physical. Real pain comes through love. “You don’t know about real loss, because it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself.” When you love something, or someone, so much that giving your life to preserve theirs seems small and obvious. When you want to take all their pain and bear it yourself. When in your deepest parts, you want to see them become tall and mighty and beautiful, and attack anything that threatens this purpose. When you would do anything in your power to see this thing continue and it does not, that is loss. And we all know it to one degree or another. We know it enough to imagine it. This is some of the pain, the suffering that God himself endured. This is the pain he felt when his beloved creation Fell. He endured it and overcame it, and so he can heal it in us. He wraps you in his arms and you weep, and you are given joy. This joy and comfort is yet another glimpse of heaven. In heaven, we will be bodily wrapped by God, by love, and the source of all pain will be removed. The sweetness!

Another source of this emotional pain is depression. The depressed’s emotions are an open wound and inescapable. The hard times come in waves, and the waves from an endless ocean. A search for a cause is a bottomless pit; usually there are either none or too many to count. All knowledge and willpower is fruitless in the struggle.

This healing is profound indeed, and takes time. Even so, it is not the deepest. Although it is only effectual when administered with love, sinners have the ability to heal in this way. They may not heal perfectly, but everyone knows the immense strength a caring friend can give to the hurting.

Finally, Jesus heals our soul from sin. When I say sin, I mean the root substance binding itself to our being. The thing that is a part of our nature. Here I do not mean the action of sin, only the disease. This is the profoundest healing possible, and he does it because he loves us, and for no other reason. The physical healing he did demonstrates this. He opened the eyes of the blind, he raised the dead to life. Sin blinds us, it kills us. Our will, intellect, heart, and body are stunted. Sin causes physical and emotional suffering. In heaven, there will be no sin, and that is the reason there will be no death, crying, or pain. Revelation 21:4. Sin is the ultimate sickness. If depression is inescapable, sin is infinitely more so. It laughs at knowledge and will power, because it knows it is in control. Who can save me from this body of death?

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! This healing from sin is by far the most profound healing Christ does. No human, no matter how influencing and righteous they seem, can help another human overcome their sin. Bonhoeffer likes to talk about the aloneness of the Christian, and he is right. The most direct access we have to someone’s soul is through prayer, because only the Holy Spirit has access. We are powerless when it comes to sin. Again, when I say sin, I mean the disease, not the action. Only God has any power whatsoever over that thing, and praise be to him for using his power.

This healing gives us the truest picture of Heaven. It will be a world in which love and joy are made perfect through removal of sin. We love perfectly, which means others’ joy increases our own. Our own joy will increase others’ joy, and the love and joy will explode upward into a bliss so utter it can hardly be imagined.

A final thought. It is obvious that we still live in sin. Yet, it is obvious from Scripture that God has already conquered the sin in our lives, and we are no longer slaves to it. This work will be completed in glorification, but how can both of these things be true now? I often feel that sin still resides at my core, yet I know I am a slave to Christ, and not a slave to sin. Augustine says that the regenerate man is able to sin and able to not sin. Okay, but what of our nature? Is it dual? How can that be? I don’t know, just as I don’t know how the Incarnation can be, or how God can be sovereign while I am responsible. But I do know that Christ has healed, is healing, and will heal with finality one day.

Sorry one more thought. I must confess that I am not certain that God is passable. I am undecided at this point, although I think that he is.

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