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Jul 08, 2012

Health Care Jesus-Style—Part 2

Passage: John 11:1-44

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Life to the Full

Category: New Testament

Keywords: health care, healing, responsibility


This message continues from the previous message, looking at what God says we are responsible for when it comes to health care both individually, as a church, as citizens, as a nation and what God claims responsibility for.


Health Care Jesus-Style—Part 2

John 11

July 8, 2012


What does a biblical view of health care look like?

With all the chatter that is going on about health care these days, that sounds like a pretty reasonable question for us to ask as followers of Jesus Christ, doesn’t it?

REVIEW:  As we saw last week in John 4-5, we know the following:

  • God is very much interested in our physical health.  But our physical wholeness is not his first concern.
  • While diseases, illnesses and ailments may have changed, very little has changed about a.) how expensive health care is, b.) how many doctors people may go to for a cure, and c.) how long people often have to suffer with chronic illnesses. 
  • Jesus has and does exercise his power to heal everything from life-and-death emergencies to chronic handicaps.
  • Jesus doesn’t heal everyone.
  • He sometimes waits for us to ask for healing for ourselves or another.
  • He sometimes heals people who don’t ask for it or even know who He is.
  • Health and illness can both be tools in God’s hands to move us closer to him.  (Or in our hands, they can both drive us farther from Him.)


GROUPS:  So how about we come up with some of the more important questions that we should try and answer about health care from a biblical point of view?  Give us your best 3 questions in 3 minutes!


Possible questions:

  1. 1.       Should health care be a “right”?
    1. Rights are not commodities to be purchased but privileges/opportunities to be permitted/guarded by governments.  If health care is a “right,” then what about food?  Clothing?  Housing?  Aren’t these more fundamentally necessary than health care?  And if it is a “right,” I shouldn’t have to work for it, should I?  See the folly of this thinking?


  1. 2.      What is the individual’s responsibility in health care before God?
    1. Treat his/her body as a gift from God, the temple of his Holy Spirit on earth (I Cor. 6:19).
    2. b.      Exercise self-control over your own physical appetites and body (sex, food, work, etc.) 

GENERAL:  I Cor. 9:27—“I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave….”  Phil. 1:20—“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”

FOOD/SEX:  I Cor. 6:13-- “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”  I Cor. 3:19—“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame.”

  1. c.       Ask for prayerJames 5:14
  2. d.      Pray for God’s healing and/or sustaining grace

2 Cor. 12:7-9-- Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Jeremiah 17:14--Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.

  1. e.       Insofar as we are able, BE the “Good Samaritan” and provide aid and assistanceLuke 10:25-37
  2. f.        Care for the sick as we would for Jesus—Mt. 25:35-36—For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
  3. g.      Repent of sin:  Sometimes sickness is related to sin. 

I Cor. 10:30“That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.”

Acts 28:25-27--“The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet  (Isaiah 6:9-10): Go to this people and say, 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving." For this peoples heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'”

Psalm 41:4
I said, “Have mercy on me, LORD; heal me, for I have sinned against you.”

I Cor. 5:5—turning someone over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh.

h.  Use available medicines/medicinal remediesI Tim. 5:23—Take wine for your stomach


  1. 3.      What is the church’s responsibility?
    1. PRAY for one another: 

James 5:14-16

3 John 1:2 ...I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well." 

  1. Bear one another’s burdens:  Gal. 6:2
  2. Weep with those who weep:  Rm. 12:15
  3. Share with those in need (of what?)
  4. Use divine authority to heal:  Matthew 10:8
    Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
  5. 4.      What is society’s or government’s responsibility?

The Bible is silent as to whether society or government has a responsibility to provide health care. 


5.  What is God’s responsibility?

  • Ezekiel 47:12
    Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”
  • Malachi 4:2
    But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.
  • Deuteronomy 32:39
    “See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand.
  • Eventually overcome sin, sickness and death.  Revelation 22:2--Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Ezekiel 47:12--Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”

Rev. 21:4-- ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”




Health Care in the Early Church

“And as the early Christians were dispersed throughout Asia Minor, largely as a result of being persecuted, we find them engaged in healing in addition to their preaching and teaching. History shows that these early Christians did not only oppose abortion, infanticide, and abandoning infants, but they also nurtured and cared for the sick, regardless of who they were: Christian or pagan, it made no difference to them. Bishop Dionysius (c.200-c.265) tells us that Christians, when it came to caring for the sick and dying, ignored the danger to themselves: "Very many of our brethren, while in their exceeding love and brotherly kindness, did not spare themselves, but ...visited the sick without thought of their own peril, drawing upon themselves their neighbors' diseases, and willingly taking over to their own persons the burden of the sufferings around them."  [http://www.reformedreflections.ca/faith-and-life/chr-perspective-healthcare.html]



1.)    Health is not a right; it is a gift from God.

2.)    Most of the responsibility for health or health care expenses resides with the individual.

3.)    Governments have no obligation to care for the sick, people/individuals/God’s children do.

4.)    Christians have the privilege of praying for health and healing.

5.)    Satan is the one who uses illness against people to steal, destroy and kill. 

6.)    God can use illness to punish, discipline and get attention in the case of sin.  He also uses it to mature and humble his own children walking in righteousness. 












Now, let’s take one more look at a passage that has everything to do with how our Lord views illness in the lives of people, people for whom he has deep compassion and love. 


Since we all probably know the story of Lazarus in John 11, I won’t take time to read it all.  Let me simply point out a few of the issues at work in this story that will probably hit all of us at some level.


The key players in this story:

  • Lazarus, the sick man
  • Mary, the one who preferred sitting at Jesus’ feet to listen to him teach rather than prepare the meals everyone would eat (Lk. 12).  John IDs her as the one who will later, in ch. 12, anoint Jesus feet with the costly perfume and dry them with her hair.
  • Martha, great cook, server and probably older sister.


Lazarus falls seriously ill, so both the sisters send word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”  They don’t even use his name.  They simply identify him by the loving relationship Jesus has with their brother. 

            Notice, it’s not “the one who loves you.” It is “the one you love….”  If there is 1 thing we really need to keep fixed in our souls when we or those we love are sick, it is this:  the presence of sickness is never an indicator of the absence of God’s LOVE.

            In fact, in vs. 5, John reinforces this reality with the commentary that Jesus loved all 3 of them—“Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” 

            This really is one of the biggest challenges with illness, isn’t it?  We almost automatically go to the belief, “Well, if I or my loved one is seriously sick, I would do anything to heal them…so why won’t God?”  And then we move to, “Well, he must not be the loving God I’ve always been taught he was.” 


God’s health care plan is grounded in His deep love for us.  So any belief system we develop about illness and healing and health care must be anchored in the bedrock belief that whatever God allows or brings into our lives in terms of suffering and sickness does NOT contradict his deep love for us. 


We far too often equate less suffering in life with more love and visa versa, right?  That’s not unreasonable.  What do we call people who take pleasure in seeing other people suffer?  Sadists, no?  But God certainly gains no pleasure from watching people suffer.  In fact, another clear teaching of this story is that God weeps with those who are sufferingHe shares our sorrow and heartache.

But his love runs far deeper and is much wiser than our love.  He knows and sees purposes for suffering, sickness and even death that we do not grasp to the same degree… or perhaps not at all.  That is one reason why he does not jump in when we think he should, do exactly what we want him to or rescue us from the effects of living in a deeply fallen and broken world.


ILLDr. Joe Aldrich, former President of Multnomah University in Portland.  The first year I was there at Multnomah, Joe became the 4th president of the college in 52 years. The last time I saw him, Sandy and I were at a Billy Graham Evangelism Conference in Lake Louise, Alberta, in the mid 90s.  When I had been a student at Multnomah, I had been part of a group of young men who met with him for about an hour every-other week.  He was quick-witted and a very strategic thinker and leader. 

            Sometime in the early 90’s, Dr. Joe was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  When we saw him in Canada that fall, it was evident that the disease was taking its toll. He resigned the presidency in 1996 and lived another 13 years before passing away.

            When asked if he wanted God to heal him, Joe would respond something to the effect, “Yes, but not if it would mean that healing would in any way take away what this disease has done to my walk with Christ.” I’ve always admired that view of illness.  Here was a highly successful, very influential national Christian leader saying that illness had done more to his relationship with God than good health ever could have.  And he meant it!


Notice that Jesus recognizes that sickness often leads to death.  And if you stop and think about it, every time someone dies God is choosing not to rescue them from the ultimate form of sickness.  But Jesus told his disciples when they heard Lazarus was sick, (vs. 4) “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

Normally, this sickness would end in death.  Jesus didn’t say that this sickness is not going to involve death.  It will.  But it won’t end there. 

            Here is one of those examples of where God’s perspective and ours simply do not meet.  He knows this sickness will involve death and bring with it all the accompanying grief, all the accompanying sorrow, all the attendant anger and fear and emptiness death always seems to bring.  But it won’t END there.  It, too, will be used by God to bring Him glory. 


Knowing the ending to this story, we all say to ourselves, “Of course!  How silly they were to question Jesus.  They should have known better.”  J 

            True, they eventually received Lazarus back from the dead after 4 days of mourning.  But we don’t know how long that lasted.  Did Lazarus live to the ripe old age of 70 or 80 or 90?  Did he enjoy another 25 years…or did he die the following year?  We don’t know.  What we do know is that he actually did die again.  And those who loved him certainly mourned his death…again. 


Here’s another thing we can say about health care Jesus-style: it sees all illness and even death as temporary, not permanent, something that will eventually bring glory to God.

            As we saw last week, every person’s death is only a temporary pause in God’s divine plan of giving glory to Jesus, the Son.  As we saw in John 5:28, Jesus said, “…for a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come out….” 

What Jesus did for Lazarus is only a faint pulse of what He will do with all humanity at the final resurrection.  And if that one, singular resurrection of Lazarus brought glory to Jesus, imagine what the resurrection of billions upon billions of people will do to display God’s power and love?


Now let’s move on to vs. 6.  Having just told us that Jesus loved this family deeply, John tells us, “Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” 


Here’s another reality about Jesus’ health care plan:  God does not operate on our time table or schedule; He often allows things to get much worse.


That reality is reinforced in vs. 17 where John tells us that “On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.”  Four days of mourning.  Four days of grieving.  Four days of crying and trying to come to grips with the deepest kind of loss there is in life.  God does not operate on our time table or schedule. 


Why is this important to recognize when we’re talking about God’s involvement in our health care?  Because if we don’t really come to grips with God’s timetable, we will be deeply disappointed and frustrated with God himself.  God’s health care plan operates on a different calendar, much less clock.  Because God’s plan doesn’t just include the length of our life;  it also includes the coming resurrection.  Death is not the end of his plan; it only ushers in another chapter of his divine health care plan.  His “plan” doesn’t lapse until every human being who has ever lived is resurrected bodily at the end of this age. 


You see, God’s health care plan has a very important clause in it:  a MORTALITY clause.  Every health care plan I’ve ever had ends at death.  There’s no more coverage once my heart stops beating and my blood stops circulating.

            But not God’s policy.  His endures until he raises every one of us from the dead.  His promise of care and treatment spans every inch of this globe, millennium after millennium. 

            You might be thinking, “O sure, Pastor.  Cute thought.  But what does that really have to do with the discussion?”


Apparently to God, EVERYTHING!  When we lose the eternal perspective on life, then our temporal survival becomes everything.  When we see divine health care as limited to the illness of this life and impotent once death has take place, then what we do with illness and how we treat life will be dramatically different from what God may want to do with illness. 


We tend to think that life is really all about living as LONG as you possibly can.  But having lived now for 55 years and seen many people much younger than me die, I can assure you that if a long life is the measurement of how well God is doing with our health care, then He must be failing every day.  If that is the case, then millions upon millions of people have been cheated out of the most important thing and even eternity will probably be somehow inferior. 


Let’s face it:  God’s priorities when it comes to our bodies and illness, disease and death simply are not our natural priorities.  And if our objective as followers of Christ is to be conformed to His image as much as possible, then our expectations about health and death need some radical reorientation.  God’s timetable about health care includes our future resurrection.  So death, while still an enemy, is not the victor.  God will be…and we will all experience the power of his resurrection some day. 


The only really important question is, “To which resurrection will you answer:  the resurrection to life eternal in Christ in heaven OR the resurrection to judgment and self-condemnation to hell for rejecting Jesus, the Son of God?  It is amazing how much time and money and effort so many people spend on health insurance and health care in this brief life while giving so little attention, time, thought and research to preparing for the resurrection they will one day experience (see John 5:28, 29). 


We have a God whose “health care policy” doesn’t expire even when we do!

Final observation here from John 11.  The story goes on to relate the interchange that happens between Jesus and Martha in vss. 21-27.  Then in vss. 28-34 you have his conversation with Mary. 

            In verse 33 and again in vs. 38 you have an identical phrase being used by John. 

Vs. 33—“When Jesus saw her [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”

Vs. 38“Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb.”

The way most English versions translate this is rather weak and watered down.  The term is not used a lot in Scripture but it always has the sense of anger, outrage and emotional indignation.  Jesus wasn’t just being empathetic with his sorrow.  Something was causing him to be moved to anger. 


Anyone who has experienced the death of someone the love deeply knows that anger will be a part of the grieving process.  But Jesus’ anger seems to be in response to something that was going on at the scene there.  Yes, he clearly shed tears along with those who were weeping and wailing with Mary.  There was definitely compassion and sorrow. 

            But it could not have been sorrow over Lazarus’ death since Jesus knew he was about to raise him from the dead.  If you knew a secret like that going to a funeral, you would not be crying because you would never see the deceased alive in this life again. 

            So what are our options?  A couple of things, I think, that overlap.  First, I think Jesus is both angry about what death does to people in terms of the pain it introduces to life.  But I also think he is angry about the response of most of the people there to Lazarus’ death.  They seem to be mourning as if there were NO RESURRECTION, no hope, no future.  God’s children, though we will certainly feel sorrow and deep, deep loss, should never grieve like unbelieving pagans who have no hope.  We have a sure and living hope.  As painful as this temporary separation is, it is not final.  It is not eternal.  It is not the end. 


ILL:  I’ve done funerals for families who didn’t have a single believer in them.  I’ve heard people come into a funeral home and wail over the casket of a family member they have no hope of ever spending more time with here or in eternity.  And I’ve seen the difference knowing Christ makes to those who bury a loved one “in Christ” and have to learn to face the rest of this life without them.  People who truly know and believe in Jesus can and often do look at death very differently. 


So the final truth I trust we will take with us today about Jesus’ Health Care Plan is this:  God’s administration of his health care is not detached, unemotional or passionless; it is compassionate, emotional and expectant.  God hates death and sees it as “the last enemy” (I Cor. 15:26).  He hates what it has done to life and to every person’s experience.  But he also hates it when we who know Him get sucked into grieving as if there were no resurrection.  He gets angry at some level with our disbelief and refusal to hold tightly to his promises of the resurrection.  Having passed through death himself, and having risen from the dead as a model of what he will do for every one of us at the resurrection, he knows that his divine health care plan should not only change how we steward our bodies in this life but should change how we mourn for those who have moved on to the next life.