“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.’”
(Mark 16:15 NIV84)
The story is told of a doctor back in the day who moved from the East to a small Midwestern town. One of his first patients was a man who was afflicted with a vexing skin disease from which he had been suffering for a long time, for which no other doctor had been able to provide relief. The new doctor used the medical knowledge he had accumulated over decades of practice to diagnose the man’s problem. He then prescribed a course of treatment for him that cleared it up in a matter of weeks. His patient, delighted to be relieved of the discomfort from which he had been suffering, couldn’t wait to tell his friend. His friend spoke to his wife about it. She told the grocer. The grocer told a truck driver. The truck driver told the people at the warehouse. Before long the whole city was abuzz with news of “the talented doctor from the East” who could do amazing things for people. It didn’t take long for his office to be crowded with patients seeking help for their own medical ailments.
During the past months the world has been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic health problem. Concerted efforts have been made to halt its spread. Scientists the world over have been working feverishly to develop a vaccine that will provide people with immunity. What a glorious day it will be for the world when it happens! The threat of COVID will at long last be removed. People won’t need to practice the safeguard measures of donning face masks and social distancing any longer. Air travel will go on as before. Schools and churches will be opened fully. Life will be back to normal, or the “new normal,” as some like to say.
Yet as marvelous as it will be to have a vaccine available for COVID with life back to normal, far more wonderful is the “vaccine” Jesus has already provided for our souls, and by which He has supplied us with immunity against the sin-virus and enabled us to enjoy a normal (close and loving) relationship with our holy God. By offering His sin-free life on the cross as a ransom, Jesus has supplied us with the perfect antidote for our sin-disease. With the eyes of our faith fixed on Him, our souls have been restored to peak condition. We need not distance ourselves from our God in fear or hide our faces from Him in shame. As we travel life’s road, we need not harbor worries about what lies around the corner, for the Savior promises to guide our steps, guard us from dangers, and make everything work for our good. Even when we pass through the valley of the shadow of death, our hearts may be at peace because, dressed in Jesus’ righteousness, we know that a blessed future awaits us when we shall be free from all that now causes pain and distress (including health problems).
This is the good news Jesus has given us to pass along to others—to those nearby in our circle of acquaintance, and to those far away through our church’s mission programs. We may well think of ourselves as cured patients who are now privileged to tell those still afflicted with the sin-virus about their Heavenly Physician Who possesses the ability and the loving desire to make them well, too.
Oh, may He soon to ev’ry nation
Find entrance where He is unknown,
With life and light and free salvation,
That Satan’s pow’r be overthrown
And healing to the hearts may come
In heathen land and Christian home!
(Christian Worship 32:5)
Thomas Schuetze is pastor of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lakewood, Colorado.