The Great Physician

Nowhere in any of the Bible translations I researched is Jesus actually referred to as “The Great Physician”. Jesus compares the spiritual illness of sin to physical illness in the gospels of Matthew and Mark where He says, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to callthe righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

In Luke’s gospel, after Jesus finished reading the words of Isaiah to the people in the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth, He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’”  He indirectly referred to Himself as a physician in that particular passage, but Jesus never came right out and said of Himself, “I am the Great Physician”. There was an old gospel hymn that used to be sung in churches many years ago called, “The Great Physician”, and that I believe is where we got the term from and why we still use it today. The fact is, there’s only one recorded instance in all the Bible where God said, “I am the Lord, your healer.” That was in Exodus chapter 15.

It would have been uncharacteristic of Jesus to call attention to Himself in that way, to call Himself  “The Great Physician”. Jesus was far too humble to do that.  It was always His desire to bring glory to the Father, never to Himself. He often told people after He healed them not to tell anyone. But let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind; Jesus was – and is – our Great Physician. During His time on earth, he healed people of everything from blindness to leprosy. A woman touched the hem of His robe and was healed. He drove demons out of people and restored their sanity. He raised the dead. In our time, physical ailments are still healed miraculously through the power of prayer when it’s God’s will to do so. But Jesus heals more than physical ailments. Jesus is the healer of our souls and that’s far more important than physical healing. I know this from my own experience eight years ago.

We experience many kinds of pain. There’s manageable physical pain, like a headache or muscle strain. We take aspirin or ibuprofen and go about our business. There’s pain that requires us to seek medical attention, and with the right type of treatment, our bodies eventually heal.

But then there are those hurts that are not physical. They are deep spiritual pains that can only be healed by God. That experience I mentioned from eight years ago was the pain that my family and I went through when we lost our grandson. As I look back on that time, I can clearly see that healing could have only come from Jesus Christ. Not only was it deep spiritual pain, it was the worst pain a parent or grandparent can go through. There is no other possible way my family or I could have ever healed without the Lord by our side.

When I was baptized in August of 2008, our pastor at that time said something I remember very well. He said that when people experience the sort of hurt that my family and I went through, they will choose one of two paths. They’ll either seek God or turn away from God. I know that’s all too true. All too often, people do turn away from God. They shake their fist at Him. They burn with anger toward God. They ask how God could dare do such a thing to them!

I know the path I chose. I chose to put my trust in Jesus Christ. Anything else only masks the pain for a while. It’s like taking Tylenol for a headache when you actually have a brain tumor that needs to be cut out. If you knew something was seriously wrong with your body, you’d seek medical help. It wouldn’t make any sense for you to try to treat yourself. You might mask the pain for a while, but eventually, the problem will only get worse.

But that’s exactly what people do to their souls. They try to heal themselves without God when they are in deep spiritual pain. They’ll often turn to drugs or alcohol, or some other form of self medication. They become angry, hateful, bitter. As a result, marriages fall apart. Families come unglued. And even if they manage to hold it all together somehow without God, their healing is never complete. I worked with a guy at Delta Airlines who had lost an infant daughter years before I met him, and there was still lingering bitterness. Even though he and his wife did manage to stay together and eventually had another child, he was still resentful toward God over the loss of that first child. I pray that God will let our paths cross once again so I can show him how Jesus Christ healed my hurt and restored joy and laughter in my own heart and in the hearts of my family! And I ask all of you to pray that as well.

There is pain and hurt in this life, but none of that can compare to the hurt of being eternally separated from God. Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians: That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

The pain in this world is only temporary, but the healing that comes from the Great Physician will carry us for eternity!