Sickness and the shadow of death

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At the close of 2017, the East Texas area ranked first in the nation for cases of the flu. My toddler and I contributed to this prestigious recognition. The prevalence and power of viruses and harmful bacteria that cause sickness and death everywhere and among everyone calls for sober reflection, especially for those who believe that a man has already conquered death.

Sickness seems almost normal. Yet clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies multiply, children aspire to be doctors, and individuals and organizations donate money to increase medical research. Everyone recognizes that sickness reflects something wrong with the world. Sickness is something that people rightly fight.

Jesus’ coming into this world featured an emphasis on healing sickness. Jesus exhibited power to heal surpassing medical practices both ancient and modern. Jesus cleared up a case of skin disease with a verbal proclamation and a touch, healed paralysis without even visiting the patient, and instantly cured a fever by a touch, without any prescription of Tylenol (Matthew 8:2-15)! Jesus came to heal physical bodies.

But, at the same time, Jesus didn’t heal every sick person he met. And we’re probably right to assume that many of the people Jesus did heal experienced other illnesses, and they all died. So, why did he heal people? If physical sickness is a result of human sin and rebellion against the God who created us, then the ultimate end of sickness must be connected to the ultimate end of sin. Now, that’s not to say that I contracted the flu because of some sin I committed. But the original human rebellion described in Genesis 3 resulted in a curse on this world and the dominance of death over human life (see Romans 5:12-14). So, Jesus’ kindness to heal some could be viewed as a token of the full victory over death that he would accomplish in his own death and resurrection.

So, we continue to endure sickness; we continue to live in the shadow of death. But, every cold, every flu, and every cancer can stimulate our longing for the final enemy—death itself—to be finally destroyed.

Mr. Justin Langley is Minister of Discipleship of Kilgore Bible Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.kilgorebiblechurch.org.

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