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When You Need a Doctor
June 11, 2023

First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto

MATTHEW 9:18-26

Have you heard why Jesus was born in a barn? Joseph and Mary had an HMO! If you are finding Health Insurance complicated, I found these some steps to help you.

Step One: Decide on the illnesses you and your family are going to have in the coming year.

Step Two: Identify the best doctors and hospitals for those illnesses.

Step Three: Find out what plans all these doctors and hospitals belong to.

Step Four: Select the cheapest plan.

Step Five: If there are no plans with the doctors and hospitals you want, go back to the beginning and choose some new illnesses.

When you need a doctor, how remarkable to realize we have another doctor to whom we can go without an HMO! Dr. Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew is organized in sections. Matthew grouped Jesus' teachings together into chapters 5-7, which we call the Sermon on the Mount. Right after the teachings, he grouped Jesus' healings together in chapters 8-9.

Dare we believe that Dr. Jesus still heals? Healing is not automatic or magical; nor does it usually happen without our cooperation. Dr. Jesus gives us two prescriptions:   prayer and faith. The leader of the synagogue had a strong faith in Dr. Jesus' ability to heal his daughter who had died. The woman with the hemorrhage reached out and touched the fringes of Jesus' garment. She had a strong faith in Jesus' ability to help her. 

Faith makes healing possible and prayer is how faith heals. Prayer is a vehicle, a means, through which God acts. I believe in intercessory prayer where the Holy Spirit gathers the energy of those who are praying which then increases the power of the Holy Spirit. Dr. Larry Dossey, a medical doctor and author, spent years studying the positive effects of prayer on the healing process. Patients who were prayed for had significantly better rates of improvement, fewer complicating problems, and reduction of the need of medicine. His results demonstrate what believers have long known-- prayer changes things.

Parenthetically, please do not make the mistake of concluding that if you or someone else does not get well, it means you or they didn't have enough faith or didn't pray hard enough! God does the healing, not you. Don’t add more guilt, and think that the lack of healing is somehow your fault! There is a T-shirt that reads, My Mother Was a Travel Agent for Guilt Trips.

Dr. Jesus can heal. Through prayer and faith, Dr. Jesus can heal. Jenny Hammar, wife of Jon and daughter-in-law of Art and Lois has been coming to Family Camp since she was 14. She and Jon met at Family Camp. This afternoon I begin my 53rd year as Director of Family Camp and Jenny will be Co-Director. She is an ordained American Baptist minister. Let me read excerpts from two of her sermons.

“When I was fifteen I suffered from the heavy burden of eating disorders. I fell prey to anorexia and bulimia.. After about five months of starving myself I was too weak to walk even the two blocks home from school. I had to stop every half block and rest.. Besides the physical weariness this burden inflicted on me, it also brought along mental and emotional weariness. Depression and hopelessness soon set in, and I began to feel like I was battling this beast all on my own. I was sure that God had abandoned me.

My parents sought counseling for me... My symptoms went away on the outside. But on the inside, I was still weary and in a lot of pain.

One day in college I was so weak and my stomach was in so much pain that I could not walk from my car to my dorm room. I had to crawl from the parking lot to my door. It was then that I knew a real change had to take place... Shortly after this incident I went home and heard a sermon... on the scripture, Matthew 11:28, ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest’... I suddenly realized what had been missing from my life. I had always prayed to God and had a strong faith in God. But I had never really completely given my life over to Christ. And no one had ever told me that when you give your life to Christ, you get to give him the bad stuff too. Frankly, I never thought Jesus would want it. I had always had this belief in my mind that in order to give your life to Christ, you already had to be perfect…

During the prayer after the sermon, I closed my eyes and I could see an image of Jesus in my mind with his arms reaching out to me. And Jesus said to me, ‘Come to me. I love you and I will take care of you, if you would only come to me. You don't have to suffer alone anymore.’ It was then that I let down all of my defenses and opened my heart to Him. At that moment I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders and from my heart... Those five years of battling anorexia and bulimia did not go away instantly. But now I had a partner who would never leave me... I had peace and rest... By leaning on Jesus completely, the burden was lifted from me and since that day it has never returned.”

Dr. Jesus heals. Jesus heals minds, bodies, and spirits. 

In the Scripture lesson we heard read, do you see yourself as the leader of the synagogue who was deeply concerned about his daughter?  Is there someone you are deeply concerned about? Or, do you see yourself as the woman with a hemorrhage who needed healing? Do you have a health issue? Or, do you see yourself as Jesus the healer? Does it seem arrogant to identify with Jesus? But, we are called to be like Jesus, to do what Jesus does. 

Do you believe Dr. Jesus can use you in the healing process? When Karen, a United Methodist in Morristown, Tennessee, was pregnant with her second child, her 3-year-old son Michael began a relationship with his unborn sister by singing to her every night. Night after night, he sang his new sister a song. When it came time for Karen to give birth to the baby, there was trouble with the delivery. The baby, in serious condition after she was born, was immediately rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care. As the days crawled by, the infant grew weaker. The doctor began to prepare the family for her expected death.

During this time, Michael asked continually to see his sister. He wanted to sing to her. Finally, they dressed Michael in an oversized scrub suit and took him in to see his sister. The medical personnel refused to let a 3-year-old in the ICU, but his mother insisted. Michael made his way over to the bassinet that held his sick little sister, and sang, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, Please don't take my sunshine away.”

Did you realize the song ends with a prayer? The next day, instead of a funeral, they took her home! Woman's Day magazine called it the miracle of a brother's song. We know it was Dr. Jesus healing through Brian’s prayer.

3-year-olds can be Dr. Jesus and so can you. God can use you to heal. When someone is ill, you probably pray for their healing but do you also pray for them in person? You expect the pastor to go to the hospital and pray for their healing, but God can also use you. You are not the healer, but God can use you. James 5:15, “Is anyone among you sick? The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.” 

Did you notice that the woman with the hemorrhage touched Jesus’ robe and later Jesus took the girl by the hand and lifted her up. There is healing through touch. When you pray with someone, take their hand and pray for healing. Energy passes from one to another through our hands. Don’t be timid. By the power of the Holy Spirit, even you can be Dr. Jesus.

© 2023 Douglas I. Norris