In the middle of the merry nature, we see how a paralyzed child is driven in a wheelchair. Somebody who still has a heart which is not insensible to his neighbour will realize in that moment that something is wrong with our world, that the world in which such a torture and sadness is possible cannot be the genuine creation of God. Something anti-divine must have befallen the world. The world has apostated from her genesis. Destroying powers have seized rule in this world.
Only in a world having become godless, there is malady. Because the world suffers from God; therefore, there are sick people. Solely a world which would be secure in God, a delivered world, would be without any malady. In the Bible we encounter a strange sentence: “And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease [was] exceeding [great]: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.” (2. Chron. 16, 12). It is about a devout man there which the Bible else gives high praise for his zeal, regarding God’s matter. But this man, despite his devoutness, thought very modern so that he strictly distinguished between matters of religion, in which someone calls on God and the earthly matters, in which someone asks for help at earthly bodies. Diseases, particularly physical diseases, are earthly matters with earthly causes and earthly cures. Consequently, diseases are matters of physicians but not of God. How could someone be allowed to bother God, the Lord of the world, with his small physical maladies? God has other concerns.
That is thought pretty reasonable and maybe even religious, but it is wrong. Surely, diseases have their earthly causes and earthly cures. But with that is stated not at all everything and not the crucial thing about the essence of disease. For sure, the invalid shall call on a physician. But the most important thing is not done solely with that and is not realized. Behind the earthly causes and cures there are supernatural causes and supernatural cures of the disease. As long as someone passes by thereon, he or she lives ignoring his disease and doesn’t realize its essence. Its blessing or curse remain unrecognized.
The disease belongs to God in a special way. The Bible doesn’t blame a man for calling on a physician when he is sick but for not calling also on God. Not by chance, Christ lived noticeably close by the invalids; not by chance, blind man, paralytics, deaf-mutes, lepers, and lunatics were irresistibly attracted by him and seeked his community. Why didn’t Christ send them to the physician? Surely not in order to damage the reputation of the physicians or to present his own skills and suggestiv powers but in order to make clear that God and malady and that Christ and invalids belong strongly together.
Christ wants to be the real physician of the invalids. “I am the Lord, your physician!” (Exodus 15, 26). God says that; Christ says that. The Creator and Deliverer of the world wants to be the physician of the invalid. Do we want to spurn this offer after we have accepted so many less offers with more or less success?
One who merely intuits the connection between God and malady; one who takes serious the unexpected offer can get a pointer to the sin of the human beings, to the destruction of the community of the creatures with their Creator.
Here are the supernatural reasons and abysses of the malady. It is the sin of the world and it is my personal sin I get reminded of. My disease doesn’t have to be the consequence of or the punishment for a certain sin, which I had to accuse myself of; that may happen, but it is not necessaryly the case. Yet every disease will let me look into the depth of the sin of the world and the depth of my personal godlessness. This look drives me to God. When I looked into the abyss (of my sin), I don’t first ask for redemption of this or that malady, but I will confess my longly hidden guilt in the face of God. The physical malady wants to show me that my actual malady goes much deeper; so deep that no earthly physician can cure it because my actual disease is my sin. Not merely my body, my nerves, and my temper is sick but my whole essence, my heart is sick; sick by disbelieve, by fear, by the godlessness of my life. And which healthy man doesn’t suffer from that furtive and at the same time eerie disease?
Now I know that I can be helped if my whole essence becomes healthy, safe and new. How can that happen? The answer is very simple and yet touches the ultimate depth of our life: by true private confession and by divine forgiveness of all my sins. That may seem to be a strange turn and solution of this question for some people but yet only for someone who has not yet experienced the cure of the whole man by confession and forgiveness. What is confession? To open up oneself with all one’s sins, weaknesses, vices and maladies to Jesus Christ and to give him the whole heart without any reservation, according to his command. That is not easy and may seem to us harder than a dangerous surgery. Normally, the most of us will need a fraternal helper for that who assists us at confession; may it be the pastor holding an ecclesiastical office, may it be any member of the congregation who knows more about Christ than I. What is forgiveness? Extinction of all my whole hopeless, messy, failed past (of which maybe only I know) by God’s decree and by the present of a new and happy beginning of my life.
Who can give me such a new beginning? Nobody else than solely the crucified and living Jesus Christ, who himself experienced the hopelessness of life on himself and overcame it in the communion with God. He is the sole physician who knows my deepest malady; who himself has beared it. He is the saviour, who can cure heart, soul and body.
How is forgivness of sins connected with physical cure? More than the most people intuit. Of course, it is a mysterious connection. But isn’t it at least so much comprehensible that a man who got again a happy and released heart will get rid of some physical complaint? The body often becomes ill because it is not ruled because it has become its own master. But now the body has get again his right master who rules it. The body is no longer the master. It is only tool, even more than that; it has become “temple of the Holy Spirit”. There are many maladies which are not visibly subdued and eradicated by the assurance of forgiveness. But the hidden connection of received forgiveness and physical cure can become visible in such a way that medical limits are bursted, and the physicians face a mystery. One is sure: the faith is a source for cure like the disbelief is a source for destruction and sickness of the body and the soul.
When Christ calls himself the physician of the invalid, then the divine mercy shines upon every invalid. The sick one belongs to God. On him God wants to materialize his salvation. In the ill brother we encounter God’s mercy, who is the physician of the invalid in Jesus Christ. The sick man wants cure, but Christ gives him more: salvation.
Originator of the above sermon: Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (in my eyes, he is a king)