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 Vol. 6, No. 3 

March 2004

~ Page 13 ~

When the Great Physician Got Sick

By Allen Webster

Image Evidently, Jesus had a healthy body from birth. There is no record of him ever being sick or injured before the terrible scene that started in Gethsemane and culminated at Golgotha. He may have been sickened by some virus or by something he ate as a child, but we have no record of it. The only time we know he ever got sick was after he want back to heaven. Jesus told John about it, and John passed it along to some churches he knew in Asia Minor (by inspiration, of course, 2 Timothy 3:16). We can still read the letter for it is found in the Bible's last book. The emotion here ascribed to our Lord is, so far as I know, not ascribed to him anywhere else in God's Word. At times Christ was represented as being grieved (Mark 3:5), angry (Mark 3:5) and disappointed (John 6:67), but John pictures him as disgusted, even to the point of nausea. He felt like he would "spue...of out His mouth" (Revelation 3:16, literally, "I am about to vomit").

What made the Lord sick? Or, rather, who are those with whom he was so thoroughly displeased? It was not Nero and his court officials. It was not a brothel or bar. It was not homosexuals marching down main street or bootleggers selling on back streets. It was not an "Atheists' Association" or a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. It was not some group of pagan worshippers -- not even the Nicolaitanes or Jezebel. Strange to say, the object of his contempt was a church! They were not daring and rebellious sinners. They were decent and respectable people. They had formed the Laodicean church of Christ presumably for the purpose of fighting under the Lord's banner and spreading his kingdom. They called themselves Christians. They even prided themselves upon being a superior grade of Christians. Christ has nothing to say against their organization or their doctrine. They were not charged like Ephesus with cherishing heresy, nor like Pergamum with holding Balaam's doctrine. It was unlike Thyatira which had members committing adultery and fornication, and unlike Sardis which had defiled her garments. None of these fearful sins was chronicled against Laodicea, yet the bitterest curse of all was pronounced against her (Revelation 3:15-17).

THE MALADY. Christ's objection was this: "Thou art lukewarm." They were halfhearted and limp. They have no zeal, no glow, no go. They were straddlers, fence sitters. It seems strange to some Christians, but the Lord feels that if we are not going to be completely for him, he desires we be genuinely against him. He once stated: "He that is not with me is against me; he that gathereth not with me scattereth" (Luke 11:23). We can understand this line of reasoning in other areas. How would you like to see a football game played between two teams neither of which had enough interest in the game to care to win. Who wants to go to a boxing match where neither is interested in fighting the other? Who wants such an individual for a friend? Did you ever shake hands with someone whose hand was so limp that there would not have been a handshake unless you had done it all?

THE SIDE EFFECT. Lukewarmness robs its victim of all possibilities of progress. Lukewarm water will not move a steamboat. The sin of neglect kills our possibilities of usefulness, because lukewarmness is a child of self-satisfaction (cf. Amos 6:1). The Laodiceans had all the knowledge of God and all the spiritual power and usefulness they cared to have. If we know as much as we want to know, we will not likely learn anymore (cf. Matthew 5:6). If we are as good as we want to be, we will not get any better. If we are as high up the hill as we aim to go, we will not climb any higher. The Lord expects us to make ourselves useful (Romans 6:16-18). "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17). "He that abideth in me ...beareth much fruit" (John 15:5).

It is the soul on fire that fires up others. It is the wholehearted man that moves mountains. When impossibilities see an earnest man coming, they take to their heels. "And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible" (Mark 10:27). When such a man gets on his knees to pray, "the angels open the windows." The poet captured the thought in this fashion:

Somebody said that it couldn't be done,
But he with a chuckle replied,
That maybe it couldn't, but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
So he buckled right in with a trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried, he hid it,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.
Somebody scoffed: 'Oh, you'll never do that,
At least no one has ever done it.'
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing he knew he'd begun it,
With the lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
If any doubt rose he forbid it;
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

THE CURE. We can still make Jesus sick. But, as the Great Physician. He wants to make a "house call." "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." Notice the present tense verb. It is not "Behold, I have stood at the door and knocked." He is still interested and inviting (Matthew 11:28). He knocks through his Gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14), and we can accept his invitation and obey him at any time (2 Corinthians 6:2). Let us seek a clear understanding of the Lord's will and then be zealous (Matthew 15:13; Ephesians 5:17; 3:17-18; Colossians 3:17-18; 2 Timothy 3:17)! Heaven's gates open wide for such individuals (Revelation 14:13; 22:14).

Can the listless life be made earnest? Can our dead enthusiasm be revived? Can the half-hearted man become whole-hearted? Thank God, "Yes!" Christ is the cure for lukewarmness. "The zeal for thy house shall eat me up" (John 2:17), and he can set us on fire, too. His passion for man sent him to the cross, and man's passion for him can send us to glory!Image

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