Sermon – 10-24-21 – Proper 25 – Cycle B
Scripture – Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 10:46-52
Sermon Title: Does a High Priest Heal?
Do you remember Melchizedek? Last week’s high priest? The mysterious person who came and went several times in the Bible. He bore the title of High Priest. He was to prepare people for the coming of Christ to earth as our High Priest. Jesus also came and went, did he not?
We believe that Jesus was with the Father and the Holy Spirit from before time. But he did not appear on earth until the time which became the separation of how years are counted. But when he disappeared from earth after 33 years, he did not disappear from our lives. He continues to be the ultimate High Priest, whatever that means and implies.
Linda introduced our Hebrew passage for us today by reading that human priests die and no longer can intercede for our sins. Even though Jesus died, he lived again and still lives and still intercedes for our sins with the Father. The writer of Hebrews says that it is fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Jesus is perfect forever.
The notable thing is that Jesus does not need to sacrifice for his own sins. We know he already sacrificed for our sins on the cross. Therefore, when our on-going sins reach him on a daily basis, our sins are already forgiven. The sacrifice of Jesus for us was handled on that Good Friday and on Easter Sunday. They go together. We can’t have one without the other.
So far I have mentioned forgiveness for our sins. Our sermon title is “Does A High Priest Heal?” Obviously, we want to shout “yes” because we have read and heard about all the healings Jesus did. So if Jesus heals and Jesus is also a High Priest, the answer is definitely “yes” as it applies to Jesus.
Can human High Priests heal? Where would we find a human High Priest? The United Church of Christ does not have a High Priest. We have leaders – some lay, some ordained as pastors.
The United Church of Christ has less hierarchy that some denominations and faiths. It is based more on a system of democracy. So let’s reword the question. Can a pastor or minister heal? Do you know anyone who was healed by a pastor praying for the person? Can humans other than pastors heal? Do you know anyone who was healed by a friend’s praying?
We claim that our prayers help to heal people! Else why would we have a prayer list? I hear people say all the time that our praying makes a difference in someone’s struggle for good health or to solve a problem. Do we have that power within us? Were we born with it?
You probably are wanting to shout that it is God working through humans that heals. So High Priest or lowly person, God can work through us.
How modest should we be about our praying? You know how Jesus scolded people who prayed on street corners. Jesus said, “Go into your closet to pray!”
We have Bartimaeus in our Gospel lesson today. Not a quiet one was he. His goal was to be able to see. He is very bold in his seeking healing from this Jesus. He is even so bold as to make a political statement. He is declaring Jesus as a king, an earthly king, just as David was king. Bartimaeus calls Jesus “Son of David.” If the earthly king at that time would hear Bartimaeus declaring Jesus to be a king, Bartimaeus could be in big trouble. Of course, it was Jesus who lost his own life, not Bartimaeus as far as we know. And through this whole episode, Bartimaeus is healed of his blindness. He can see!
Of course, Jesus’ journey on earth is all planned by the Father. Jesus was sent to earth to do what he did. Jesus was called home to the Father to continue doing what Jesus does. What does Jesus do now that he is home in heaven?
He provides for us to intercede for each other. The power of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit beams from heaven to people who are praying – any person who is praying as a believer. Wait! Does a person need to be a believer to be an interceder for someone else? I think not. I think God uses anyone at any time to be the interceder. You are welcome to disagree with that idea.
Then there is the question of why some people are healed and some not. Bartimaeus was bold in his request. His sight was healed. Should all people in need shout for Jesus to pay attention? Is that the secret. Should we be quietly persistent? Should we pray for specific healing as did Bartimaeus. What happens if we misdiagnosed ourselves?
Maybe if our big toe doesn’t heal, it is not just the toe that is the problem. Something else somewhere in our bodies is not the way it should be – maybe even in our thinking, our attitude, our relationships – and our big toe is just the signal. Our whole body may need an adjustment. We wait for God through prayer, through patience, through faith and trust. Jesus the healer will make himself known. Jesus told Bartimaeus that his faith had healed him. “Your faith has made you well.”
Sometimes a whole group of people need to be healed of their attitude and behavior. We find Jeremiah relaying God’s words to the people of Israel and Babylon. God is bringing these people home from captivity. There will be rejoicing and singing. They were taken from their homeland because they needed an attitude change. Israel was captured by the Assyrians. Later, Judah was captured by the Babylonians. But God brought them home. The people proclaimed, “The Lord has done great things for us.” The healing of nations. Don’t we yearn for healing of the nations in our life time.
We yearn for healing. It will come. Jesus will come again in some way at some time. We can only watch. In our Wednesday evening Bible study, someone was led to say that Jesus is actually here with us but we don’t recognize Jesus because we are looking for the wrong kind of entrance. We should be keeping our eyes open for little miracles, little adjustments in the world, in our country, in our community, in our congregation, in ourselves.
Before Jesus transforms our world bigtime we will probably be called to heaven. I am a firm believer in immediate arrival in heaven. That is where the ultimate healing will happen for each of us who believe. God has a perfect place waiting for us and he will call us home. There will be no pain, no tears, no heartbreak, no hunger, no depression, no attacks, and no sinning! There will be glorious, happy, singing, and dancing and beauty. Whether we find Jesus as a high priest or a humble casual person, Jesus will outshine everyone else there.
Meanwhile, God does not leave us or abandon us. God as Jesus, God as Holy Spirit, God as Father are always available for us in our sojourn on earth to help us through the tough times and the good times. For nations distraught, for people in severe pain and anguish, we need to be sincerely praying. Each prayer counts. Amen