Matthew 9-10, Psalm 86
Every week as a physician I am presented with many situations to act as a physician and also to act as a referring physician. This week I was able to take care of a woman who was 19 weeks pregnant with a severely weakening cervix and in danger of losing her pregnancy. I took her to surgery and placed an emergency cerclage (stitch) and helped to secure the pregnancy. I also had a woman present to me with a condition so rare and so dangerous that it was only the second one that I had seen in the 30 years that I was practicing medicine. Her tubal pregnancy, was a rare variant called a cornual pregnancy, implanted in the junction of the tube and the corner of the uterus. When that ruptures it often results in rapid death to the mother. I took her to surgery and removed the fallopian tube and the corner of the uterus and she did well. This week I also had a patient who was in a very unstable personal situation and found herself pregnant and desiring an abortion, after a long conversation she accepted a referral to the Great Physician, Jesus, and has decided to keep her pregnancy. I also have a long time patient whose marriage is falling apart partly due to her problem with alcohol which she is recovering from. She feels unable to forgive herself and she is Jewish. She also accepted a referral to the Great Physician who not only forgives, but forgets our past sins if we bring them to him and has decided to begin reading the Scripture and join along in the New testament in the Bible Challenge. I also had a patient who was referred to me with what is either stage 3 or 4 cancer, though we are not sure where it is coming from. Though I referred her to a cancer specialist, realizing this was probably the only time I would be seeing her, I attempted a referral to the Great Physician. Unfortunately, after a number of approaches, she rejected the referral instead placing her hope and trust in St. Anthony.
After asking Matthew to follow him, then sitting down at dinner surrounded by Matthew's fellow tax collectors and sinners, we read in Matthew 9:11-13, "And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." Though we see many miracles and physical healings through Jesus in today's readings, this section refers to spiritual healing. Those who are sick are those that have emptied themselves of pride as Jesus stated in Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven." While those filled with their own self-righteousness and who feel that they are good enough on their own, will reject the offer of forgiveness and healing by the Great Physician. Once someone is willing to become a patient of the Great Physician they will naturally move to the second Beatitude in Matthew 5:4, "Blessed are those who mourn, For they will be comforted." This means a mourning over our own sin.
We read in Ecclesiastes 8:8, "No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit, And no one has power in the day of death..". Billy Graham said: "Ultimately our lives are in God's hands; even the next breath you take is a gift from Him. If He were to withdraw His hand from you, your life would end-despite the most strenuous efforts of your doctors. What difference should this make? First, it should remind us of our dependence on God. All too often we assume that our lives and our futures are in our hands. but hey aren't, they are in His hands. But this should also remind us that each day is a gift from God- a gift to be used wisely, joyfully, and for His glory." When Daniel comes before King Belshazzar we read in Daniel 5:23, "...And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified." Despite years of training to become a physician, many years ago I realized that My true role was to be a vessel in His hands and to be a vehicle in which the Holy Spirit can work. At times this is in the practice of medicine, other times it is to minister to my patients and refer them to the Great Physician. Though most reading this do not practice medicine, each and every one of us have the right and the commission from Jesus Himself (Matthew 28:18-20) to speak to those we encounter on a daily basis and offer them the only hope they have in their lives, a saving knowledge and relationship with the Great Physician, Jesus Christ, their Messiah.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: