Recently I was reading through Matthew 8 and noticed that the whole chapter is about faith. Below, I included the text from the JB Philips translation. I was particularly struck by vs. 16-17, that Jesus took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses. He is Lord of all. Without Him there was not anything made that was made. He is Lord even of viruses and viruses that we, in our finite weakness, feel powerless to fight.
I read an article on Slate by an atheist here: In Medicine We Trust. The author, Brian Palmer, explains his feelings of conflict over missionary medical workers who are the most effective medical workers on the front line. To quote the essence of the article, the author asks, “It’s great that these people are doing God’s work, but do they have to talk about Him so much?” He also states, “for secular Americans—or religious Americans who prefer their medicine to be focused more on science than faith—it may be difficult to shake a bit of discomfort with the situation.” This would be a good place to talk about ‘what is science’? The word ‘scientist’ is only a recent invention – 19th century. In Nabeel Quireshi’s lecture on God and Medicine, he states “How is science different than faith? The vast majority of what you know in science is based upon what other people have told you. Have you yourself tested and seen with your own eyes? …In order to do science, it requires faith…The scientific method is not science. It is a philosophy.” Before the word ‘scientist’ was invented, those who studied nature called themselves natural philosophers. Perhaps a better way of addresses the preferences of secular Americans regarding the practice of medicine, would be to say that they prefer modern medical philosophy over natural, traditional and faith based philosophy.
Ultimately, the goal of all of these philosophies as they relate to human sickness is healing. I’ve had several modern medical physicians tell me that they do not heal. They merely assist the patient so that their body can heal. My chiropractor likes to say “Let’s turn the power on!” Well, where is the power from? Can we talk about the power?
Jesus cures leprosy, and heals many other people
8:1-3 – Large crowds followed him when he came down from the hillside. There was a leper who came and knelt in front of him. “Sir,” he said, “if you want to, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand and placed it on the leper saying, “Of course I want to. Be clean!” And at once he was clear of the leprosy.
8:4 – “Mind you say nothing to anybody,” Jesus told him. “Go straight off and show yourself to the priest and make the offering for your recovery that Moses prescribed, as evidence to the authorities.”
8:5-13 – Then as he was coming into Capernaum a centurion approached. “Sir,” he implored him, “my servant is in bed at home paralysed and in dreadful pain.”
8:7 – “I will come and heal him,” said Jesus to him.
8:8-9 – “Sir,” replied the centurion, “I’m not important enough for you to come under my roof. Just give the order, please, and my servant will recover. I’m a man under authority myself, and I have soldiers under me. I can say to one man ‘Go’ and I know he’ll go, or I can say ‘Come here’ to another and I know he’ll come – or I can say to my slave ‘Do this’ and he’ll always do it.”
8:10-12 – When Jesus heard this, he was astonished. “Believe me,” he said to those who were following him, “I have never found faith like this, even in Israel! I tell you that many people will come from east and west and sit at my table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven. But those who should have belonged to the kingdom will be banished to the darkness outside, where there will be tears and bitter regret.”
8:13 – Then he said to the centurion, “Go home now, and everything will happen as you have believed it will.” And his servant was healed at that actual moment.
8:14-15 – Then on coming into Peter’s house Jesus saw that Peter’s mother-in-law had been put to bed with a high fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her. And then she got up and began to see to their needs.
8:16-17 – When evening came they brought to him many who were possessed by evil spirits, which he expelled with a word. Indeed he healed all who were ill. Thus was fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy – ‘He himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses’.
8:18-19 – When Jesus had seen the great crowds around him he gave orders for departure to the other side of the lake. But before they started, one of the scribes came up to Jesus and said to him, “Master, I will follow you wherever you go.”
8:20 – “Foxes have earths, birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere that he can call his own,” replied Jesus.
8:21 – Another of his disciples said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”
8:22 – But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”