“Games People Play – Operation – Sermon 3”
Sermon delivered by Pastor Daniel Mejia
St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church
March 8, 2015
One of my friends Mark Garrett was sharing that, not too long ago, he performed a mini-operation on himself. No, he is not a doctor, he is a pastor. He noticed some scar tissue on his knee that turned into a bump, and like all sane people who have scar tissue on your knee that turned into a bump, what do you do? You go and get a pair of scissors and a butter knife. You then set the knife over a fire, cut the bump off your leg with a pair of scissors from your Swiss Army knife and put the hot butter knife on your knee to stop the bleeding. That’s what you do. I think he got the idea from watching one of the Rambo movies. He says the only memory of that fateful day is a small scar and the strong smell of burned flesh.
Mark’s not the only one playing doctor is he? We Google the pains we’re having, looking for what these symptoms might mean. We buy books that have quick fix home remedies for recurring sickness. Part of that mentality probably started back in the day, when we played the game Operation. I’m sure you remember how to play. You draw a card and it describes a body part that Cavity Sam has to have removed. You reach into Cavity Sam with the tweezers and try not to touch the sides or the buzzer and nose lights up. The buzzer always scared me. You need a steady hand and specific ways to do it right – it takes focus. In fact, inspired by my friend Mark and the game operation, I would love to offer my services to any of you that would like to have any type of surgical procedure this morning entirely free. I’m not a doctor but I do have a master’s degree (not in medicine), but still I’ve had a lot of education, watched a lot of medical shows, and my wife even worked at a doctor’s office. Also I brought my surgery kit with me.
All kidding aside, we see and trust surgeons daily to remove the things inside us that are hurting us. We lay down on the table and submit to their hands. And they do the work. They remove pieces of infection from our bodies. They clean up scar tissue. They clean out blockages. They get us back up and moving again. How many folks here have had surgery?
When we look into the Gospel of John, we see Jesus really causing trouble more than anything. The Pharisees are after him in Chapter 8 because he is offering a new vision for people as he asks those without sin to throw the first stone at the woman caught in adultery. You understand the custom was stoning her to death. Jesus goes on and on about being light in the darkness and suggests that they don’t love God because they don’t love him and they oppose his ministry. Strong, harsh words for them to hear.
As he walks into Chapter 9 he encounters a blind man who has been blind from birth. The immediate question from the disciples is “Who sinned so much that this guy is blind?” Today, it sounds like, “What kind of trashy people are they?” But Jesus stops them in their tracks, and this is really important because they’ve never heard this before, by saying, “Neither he nor his parents. This happened so that God’s mighty works would be displayed in him.”
Again he gives a new vision to the people gathered around the pool on this day as he spits on the ground and smears mud on this man’s eyes. If you read further along you realize that the healing causes all kinds of controversy because they’ve never seen anything like this before, and it happened on the Sabbath. Jesus is breaking the rules that that the Pharisees have held on to forever. He’s given them a new vision for how the kingdom works, but they are so consumed with themselves, their own importance and their refusal to consider any other reality, that they can’t see the Kingdom happening right before them.
At first glance, this is a physical healing story. And I love it because it reminds us that God has the power to overcome the impossible. But sometimes we don’t get the physical healing that we want or even pray for. We know of people here in this place, who didn’t receive the physical healing they and we prayed for and we mourn and grieve their loss. But maybe there’s another vision, maybe there’s another way to see healing.
Sam Wells, the former Dean of the Chapel & Professor of Christian Ethics at Duke University wrote the following in a sermon entitled “Does God Heal?”; “What can I get you, sir?” “I’ll take a healing, please.” “Would you like that with forgiveness and eternal life, sir?” “No thanks, I’ll take it as it comes.” That’s the human condition. We want healing without conditions or complications. We want healing without getting into all that stuff about salvation and transformation. But what does God offer us? God offers us forgiveness of sins and life eternal. That’s salvation. God offers us life that is real, life that is whole, life that is eternal and perfect, without blemish.
That’s where healing is truly to be found. And sometimes sandwiched in between is physical healing; sometimes not. And of course we long for the healing. Of course we do. And of course we pray. And what God gives us over and over again is forgiveness and eternal life, everything we need for today and everything we could imagine for the future. Sometimes they are so close together that we call it healing; sometimes even when they aren’t especially close together healing comes and fills that gap; and sometimes healing comes but forgiveness and eternal life are so far away that the healing is no good to us. So the question “Does God heal?” can only be asked alongside of and in the context of the question “Does God save?” And these are the answers. “Does God heal me physically?” Sometimes. “Does God save me?” Always. Always. Always. (Sam Wells)
If you can see it, this story is about conversion. It’s about someone being freed from the power of sin and slavery. It’s about someone who was blind, but now can see. It’s about is Jesus letting him be the Great Physician of our soul, mind, and body. It is about us letting Jesus perform an operation of our whole self.
But it happened because Jesus went to the pool. He went to where the people were. He went into their classrooms, their homes, their places of work, their conversations, their darkness and touches not only their eyes, but transforms their hearts. This is the Good News. And if we are to be Christian, if we are to walk with Jesus, we have to go out. Jesus is sending us.
Jesus offers the healing. Jesus transforms this man. The Great Physician, has come to seek and save the lost. And while the man gets the physical healing, more importantly he gets the healing of eternity, the healing of wholeness, the healing of saving grace. When Jesus takes the mud and puts it in the man’s eyes, it shows us what the reality of what Ananias does in Acts 9, when he puts his hands on the eyes of Saul giving him a new vision, a kingdom vision. A vision that healed and transformed a brother from a killer of to a follower of the Way.
Today… The Doctor is In The House. Come and Be Healed. Come to the altar and allow God to work in you, to remove whatever sickness, sadness, grief, suffering, despair or sin that is keeping you from seeing eternity. Come, and see! Come, and be saved! Come, and be made whole! Come, and be made holy! Amen.