Tuesday, April 1, 2014

God's Affordable Health Care Act (A sermon based on Isaiah 53:4-5)

Feeling okay? Got the sniffles? Have a few extra pounds or high cholesterol? How healthy are you, really? Thanks to our Suffering Savior we have perfect spiritual health! And thanks to him we will have perfect physical health too! Read or listen to (download or stream) this sermon based on Isaiah 53:4-5 (or watch the entire service at www.GraceLutheranKenai.com/webcast) and rejoice in how healthy you are! 

Our Suffering Savior

God’s Affordable Health Care Act

A sermon based on Isaiah 53:4-5

Sunday, March 23, 2014 – Lent 3A


How do you feel this morning? You healthy and well? Relatively speaking, right? I mean no one is bleeding out or coughing up a lung or you wouldn’t be here. At least, I hope you wouldn’t. I hope you’d be in the hospital or at least in the back of an ambulance. But how healthy are you? Is your blood pressure exactly where it should be? Your cholesterol counts? Your weight? Have healthy and clear toenails? Perfect skin? Perfect hair? And when was the last time you had a complete physical? And who but God knows exactly what you look like on the inside?

The truth is, none of are as healthy as we should be. Because of sin in the world, our bodies are dying—literally! Cells are dying every day and being replaced by new ones. We’re all sick. But far worse than the physical ailments and health challenges we face, we have a much bigger problem. We’re all sick with sin. It may not be apparent to others, but we don’t need an x-ray, a CAT scan, or an MRI to reveal it. We have our own consciences which remind us how sick we are. And if those aren’t working right, we have the Word of God. And what’s more, this sickness is terminal. We may delay the inevitable, but it always ends in death. And if left untreated it will end in eternal death.

But thank God that he has given us the cure. He has given us Jesus. Jesus is God’s health care plan. He acted to save us from our terminal illness. And it worked! The cure works perfectly for all who take it every time! And what’s more, it’s very affordable; it doesn’t even cost us a thing! This morning, as we again consider that familiar prophecy in Isaiah 53, we specifically look at verses 4 and 5 and see God’s affordable health care act…


4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

I.              From Terminally Ill


Now, literally, the word translated “infirmities,” in the NIV or  “griefs,” in the KJV is sickness. Maybe a more literal translation would be, “Truly, he lifted up our sicknesses and carried our pains. But we considered him diseased by God.”

The truth is, we are sick. We can’t deny it. That truth is revealed even in the way we think about physical health: In the way we think of our own bodies, either indulging in whatever we want with no thought of how it affects our health, or energy levels, or ability to serve God, or focusing too much on how healthy I am so I look good, so I feel good, so I live longer, but giving little thought on how I’m going to live for God and not myself. And our sick souls are evident in the way we think about other people too.

Ever act like Job’s friends and think, “Those sick people deserve what they get. They don’t take care of themselves.”? But while it may seem easy to find the flaws in others, we too often fail to recognize how sick we are with such unloving judgment of others, with pride, with our own sin—the whole time thinking ourselves healthy (or, at least, healthi-er than others).

Not long ago I watched a documentary on Netflix called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Joe Cross is an Australian businessman who has a large wallet and had an even larger lifestyle. Parties on the weekend, elaborate business lunches, and plenty of trips to the bar left him overweight, on all kids of medications, and feeling tired and lethargic all the time. But he got sick and tired of being sick and tired. So he went on a 60-day juice fast, eating nothing, and drinking only pulverized fruits and vegetables. In the process (and under close medical examination, by the way), he lost over 90 lbs. and got off all of his medications. And it launched him on a path of health and wellness, eating sensibly (though still enjoying a bacon burger from time to time), getting regular exercise and maintaining his new health.

Sadly, many people think that if they just get on the right plan they can not just lose weight, but lose their sickeness of sin. One man recently told me that he’s not that bad. He said that he’d be perfectly comfortable having a camera follow him around 24-7 confident that a camera crew would find no sin in him, maybe a nose picking at worst if they followed him for a few years. He thinks that with the right diet, the right exercises, the right self-help books, the right meditation and the right medication he can be, in essence, perfect. He doesn’t understand how deep the cancer of sin goes.

But he’s not the only one. We all forget how sick we are sometimes. We think, “Sure, I’m sinful. Everyone is. But I’m not that bad. With the right diet, the right exercises, the right self-help books, the right meditation and the right medication we can be, in essence, perfect. But it’s like trying to cover up cancer with a band-aid. Face it: we are sick. We’re fat with selfishness, sick with this terminal cancer of sin, (for the wages of sin is death), and we’re nearly dead when our short time on this earth is over. And there’s nothing we can do to make it better. No hospital or treatment center has the cure.

There is only one cure for sin: Go on a Gospel fast: Drink of the Living Water that is Jesus. By his substitutionary atonement, taking our sickness on himself, he gives us the cure. Instantly! Like a magic pill that sounds too good to be true, he makes us healthy—just like that!

II.            To Eternally Well


In 1932, John Coffey, a huge, 6’8”, black man, was found cradling the bodies of two small white girls. It didn’t take long to convict him and soon Coffey was off to Cold Mountain Penitentiary to await his execution. But there was more to John Coffey than met the eye. He had a special gift. You see, when Coffey placed his massive hands on someone sick he could heal them. He healed a prison guard of his urinary tract infection. He healed a mouse that had been stepped on.

But Coffey healed in a unique way. He took the sickness into himself. He absorbed the disease. And in spite of the fact that was innocent of the crimes for which he was accused, he even took the cancer from a prison guard’s wife, knowing that it would likely be too much; it would kill him. But he was going to the electric chair anyway. So innocent John Coffey died that she might live.

Okay, this is fiction of course. The Green Mile was a great movie and an even better set of books. But what Stephen King wrote as fiction, took place in reality for you and me. His name wasn’t John, but Jesus.

Jesus took people’s sicknesses away in real life. By his miracles he demonstrated who he was—divine, the very Son of God. But he took our sicknesses on himself. He became human, one of us, susceptible to sickness, injury, pain. And he took our greatest sickness—that terminal illness of sin—on himself. He absorbed it into himself. And he who was innocent of all charges, of all sin, died—he endured, not an electric chair, but torture on a cross, and worse! the agony of hell that our sins deserve when God the father turned his back on Jesus, disgusted by sickness, oozing with our sin. Innocent Jesus died that we might live.

Because of Jesus act, we have perfect health care. By that act we are made healthy and whole—not in body, but in soul. I prefer a different translation in verse 5 too. The word translated “healed” can also be “made healthy.” You see, it’s not just taking away the problem—removing the cancer but leaving the high cholesterol, or mending the broken leg but leaving the extra pounds. No! It’s giving perfect health.

We have peace with God—not just the absence of war with him with our sins forgiven, but the presence of every blessing—with the assurance that he will work our physical ailments, our aches and pains, all for his good purposes, with the assurance that he will always be with us. We have perfect spiritual health with no room for improvement!

Though we considered Jesus diseased by God, in truth, he lifted up our sicknesses and carried our pains. By his wounds we are made healthy and whole.

And, even though “faith healers” misuse these verses to promise physical healing of diseases, it is true that through Jesus’ death and resurrection we are healed not just of sin, but of every sickness and disease of body and mind too. One day soon all sickness, disease, pain, and suffering will come to an end. We will be perfectly healthy in soul, body, and mind when our Savior takes us to glory where there is no sickness, suffering, or pain, when we are made imperishable with glorified bodies.

What perfect care we have in Jesus! And it’s completely free to us! Because of God acted in Christ we have affordable care. This is God’s affordable health care act for us.

Now, having been made perfectly healthy in our souls with sins forgiven, certain that we will be made perfectly healthy in body and mind soon, let’s inoculate ourselves from falling away by the Word of God. Let’s drink lots of the Living Water and get a healthy diet of the Word and of Jesus’ body and blood. Let’s exercise our faith as we live to serve Jesus and others. And lets take care of our physical bodies too, that we might have more energy, more vitality, and more years down the road to serve our God in thanks for his affordable health care act. For the innocent died, that we might live:

4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

In Jesus’ name dear friends, amen.  


In Him,
Pastor Rob Guenther

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
47585 Ciechanski Road, Kenai, AK 99611

Listen to sermons online: www.GraceLutheranKenai.com/Podcast
Watch services online: www.GraceLutheranKenai.com/Webcast

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