“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him, and without him
not one thing came into being… And the Word became flesh
and lived among us, and we have seen his glory,
the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-3a, 14
When we are sick most of us get to go to a doctor. The doctor examines us, diagnoses our problem, gives us a prescription and, perhaps, performs a procedure. But the Great Physician heals in a very, very different way: He becomes the patient! He takes our disease to Himself and heals us by the power of His life. The Gospel of John shows that the Word became flesh with us, so that by His “life of perfect obedience, by dying and rising again, for us, our humanity is healed in him.” (James Torrance, The Incarnation, ed. Thomas Torrance).
Augustine cried out for the Savior’s healing of the disease of sin and death: “Of my own so deadly wound I should despair, unless I could find so great a Physician!” (Augustine, Exposition on the Psalms). The Word became flesh, descending into the depths of our fallen humanity to heal so deadly a wound. He came as fully God and fully human to heal inside out through His very life. The Son of God had to take on “flesh” in order to have a real human life, a real death, and a real resurrection for us. He took flesh to the grave with Him and raised it up again. Only God can save us, but He had to save as a full human being.
John Calvin paints for us what Jesus did in taking our human condition into His divine life:
“Having become with us the Son of Man, he has made us with himself sons of God. By his own descent to the earth he has prepared our ascent to heaven. Having received our mortality, he has bestowed on us his immortality. Having undertaken our weakness, he has made us strong in his strength. Having submitted to our poverty, he has transferred to us his riches.” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion)
He came to share our human condition and to share His life with us.
When the Word who was with God and was God became flesh, He took upon Himself our dereliction and rebellion against God. Jesus owned it, willingly submitting to judgment for sin, crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). As our Great Physician, Jesus plumbed the depths of despair, humiliation and misery. Jesus treated it all as His very own. “In making himself one with us he both took what is ours and imparted to us what is his.” (Thomas Torrance, The Trinitarian Faith) Acting as one with God, and one with us, He heals us of sin and death through His life. Jesus came to us from close to the Father’s heart, that He might unite us with the Father.
Gregory of Nazianzus spoke for many early Christian theologians insisting, “What is not assumed is not healed, but what is united to Christ is saved.” (Edward Hardy, Christology of Late Fathers) There is nothing human that is foreign to Jesus. He takes every heartache, sorrow and misery, that He might heal us. He acts as our representative, Head of a new creation, the new Adam, so that we are included in what happens to Him (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, 45). Jesus does all of this for us, in our place and on our behalf. We are crucified with Christ and raised to new life with Him. This means that “it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Christ has become our “righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
A little piece of poetry by the Scottish churchman Horatio Bonar has helped me live more and more into the adventure of life in Christ: “Upon a life I did not live, / Upon a death I did not die, / Upon Another’s life, Another’s death, I stake my whole eternity.” The Great Physician takes on our disease and heals us by taking us into His very life! Oh what glory!
- What disease, heartache, regret and sin do I want to present to my Great
PALMS DOWN/PALMS UP
For a moment hold your PALMS DOWN in a symbolic gesture of letting go to God your worries for the day, the busyness of the season, and expectations of the way the holidays ought to be. Release all of these concerns to God.
Next, hold your PALMS UP as a symbolic gesture of receiving God’s gifts, provision, and guidance for today.