Jesus Healed Me

Pastor Rachel B. Livingston 
* This sermon was a first person narrative, going into the eyes of someone who might have attended  Jesus feeding of the 5000 
Have you heard the good news of Jesus Christ? Have you heard about this man from Galilee named Jesus? Have you seen him and the things he can do? Come close and sit with me a while, while I tell you the how he changed my life. Many of the people in town had heard mention of a man named Jesus, a man whose name meant messiah or savior – his name passed throughout the streets of town, it was whispered from ear to ear as the gossip melodiously went from person to person, falling off the tongues of those who speak and landing in the ears of many with great jubilation and mystery.  The things he could do, the miracles he performed, the things he was teaching, how he had the nerve to spend time with the rejected and the tax-collector.  The words spoken about him seemed to be some form of fiction, surely this man who could do all this, did not exist; surely he was some sort of myth. I mean, how could someone who did all this be from Nazareth? I had even heard it whispered that he was the messiah, come to establish the reign of the Kingdom of God.  I’m sure that made him a threat to some, because according to the Romans the emperor who ruled and reigned, manifested the will and presence of the gods.  And the Pharisees, well something about them made it clear that they were just not too fond of this Jesus, he ruffled too many feathers, and claimed to be some sort of fulfillment of the scripture.  It all just seemed so odd, something you would find quite mysterious. It was all so intriguing.

But I will never forget the opportunity I had to see the man in person, this Jesus man, who seemed to be drawing so much attention, who seemed to be the topic of some of the gossip around town.  I personally was intrigued by his teaching, it seemed to focus more on showing love to those who were cast out – maybe deep down I too was feeling overlooked and rejected – I wasn’t attached to a man, I had no name for myself.  The reality is I had become used to the homeostasis of being overlooked, ignored, and ostracized; it seemed to transform lives, it even seemed to challenge the status quo.  But I was just a mere woman, who no one would have taken a glance at or acknowledged – no one would pay attention to me. Probably not even Jesus. But there was something about him that made me so curious.  As I heard the whispers of people passing by, I heard that John the Baptist had been beheaded – I mean he was no messiah, but he had a similar teaching to that of Jesus, and he did nothing to deserve that fate – those in this imperial power just never want to be challenged, even if the messenger is claiming that the one and only God almighty is the one challenging them.  But the news of his death seemed to rattle the few that seemed to be intent on following this Jesus character.  It seemed to rattle even Jesus a little bit, because he seemed to need to retreat from the world to recover.  But after this news so many people seemed intent upon meeting Jesus for direction and healing.  I never really hung out in the crowds of some of these people who seemed curious about Jesus, but I was fortunate enough to overhear their discussions because curiosity moved me too – but no one ever stopped to realize I was existing, much less overhearing their conversation.  In their angst and fear they seemed to feel the need to rush out to Jesus immediately, to meet him directly where he was so that they could get answers. How could Jesus make this situation better if the followers of almighty God and similar teachings to that of Jesus were threatening the ego of those in Roman Power, so much so that these teachings threatened their lives.  How could this be made right? How could Jesus make this right?  I wasn’t directly invited to come along with the group who I heard these details from, but as I’ve said, I overhear things and since I was never really acknowledged anyway, I am sure they would have not noticed if I crept behind them stealthily. They said that they were going to meet Jesus at the water’s edge.  So, I woke up at the dawn, quite eager to indulge in this curiosity on this man I had heard so much about, but had never laid eyes on. I was ready to travel toward the sea of Galilee.  I followed a group at distance, I crept behind slowly, undetected and unnoticed, ducking down occasionally so as never to be noticed that I was following them.  But who am I kidding? Again, I don’t typically stand out in the crowd – I am not part of the bourgeoisie and I am not attached to any particular man, so no one would particularly look in my direction, I was insignificant to the world around me – some may even consider me a nuisance and a blot on society – someone people were eager to ignore. – but I was just so curious and so excited.  Finally, I would meet Jesus.  You see, some came looking for answers, some came looking for healing – me, I was just curious – or at least that is what I thought – who would have known that Jesus would transform me and heal my soul for cracks and breaks I didn’t even know existed.  I mean to me, I was so used to my own oppression, that I just thought that was the way things were.  That was the way things would always be – In some ways it was so much a part of reality that I may not have realized how much it existed, or how bad it was.

It was a nice warm morning, with the sun in the sky beating with warmth upon my skin – not too hot, with a gentle breeze that floated over the hills near the shore of the sea.  Everyone headed out to this deserted area, far from civilization, near the edge of the sea of Galilee.  There was grass and a field, but it was far from any place of any Roman amenities – no shops, no food, no supplies, or anything nearby.  As mentioned this gentle breeze came rolling through the hills to bring about a sense of peace – there were so many people out there waiting to see Jesus – you could hear the movement of people coming and going, the fussing of the children, the sounds of the animals that people brought with them.  I guess I wasn’t the only one who was curious about this man from Nazareth who supposedly healed the sick and turned water into wine – I would estimate that thousands gathered out there that day.   The boat that Jesus was in came ashore, and Jesus stepped off the boat surrounded by the disciples and the crowd pressed in, eager to hear what Jesus had to say.  I tried to get in close, as close as I could, but as part of the rejected of society, it was quite often that I was pushed toward the back.  So I was not disappointed that I was not up in the front, but I was content getting as close as I could.  Jesus spoke with such compassion.

I was in awe – the way he seemed to understand the problems of those around him; the way he seemed to love people like no other, the way he encouraged collective community; the way he taught people to pray; the way he explained the scripture, in ways that seemed to focus more on loving and responding to the need of the individual rather than following a specific ritual; the way he healed the lepers who had been ostracized from the community for decades.  It was like something I had never seen – surely different from the construct of our society that only seems to be concerned with top upper echelon of the ruling class.  This Jesus seemed to offer something different.  He offered hope for the outcast, love to the disinherited, healing for the sick, and love to all who were willing.  I tried to inch as close as I could, I heard his voice echo off the hills and the water – he spoke with such power and love.  The whispers of the gossip surrounding Jesus, didn’t do him justice – he was so much more than I expected.

As the hours ticked on, the crowd was beginning to grow restless, but I still had not spoken to Jesus, the reality was I first came out of curiosity, but in seeing and hearing Jesus I found that I came for something else.  As Jesus spoke, my heart became strangely warmed, my eyes welled with tears ever so gently dropping, my skin began to tingle, and joy began to cover my entire being.  In this moment I felt seen, heard, and understood– I had gotten so used to being overlooked by the world that I did not realize I had been broken deep inside – so alone – so lost – so rejected.  And yet with the words that he spoke, he seemed to read between the lines of my life, he seemed to know the healing that I didn’t even know I needed, the healing I had been longing for because the world around me had rejected me, had forgotten my presence, it had ignored my name, it ignored the oppression that society had placed on me.  But not Jesus, he somehow got it.  This trip was no longer about the curiosity of miracles that make the blind see and the lame to walk, it became more about the healing that I knew Jesus could provide deep within my soul.  But if only I could get closer, if only I could speak with him, maybe he would be able to help me move through this pain maybe he could give me further redemption from the way that the world had berated me.  But I was faced with the reality that I was running out of time – what would happen if I could not see Jesus? As the hour grew late, the disciples became concerned about the people – where would these people eat, how would they get the things they needed? Even if they purchased food, that food was quite a distance away – so they would have to leave immediately to get anywhere.  But I had still not seen Jesus – I needed to ask how he could see me so clearly, when I couldn’t even see myself – and could he provide redemption.  What I had heard was just not enough – it brought a certain level of peace, but in other ways it just opened up my eyes to my present situation and left me lying there with my soul cut open bleeding, needing some sort of balm to fix it.  But I guess, I was here again, overlooked, undervalued, faced with the reality that no one cared about my plight, maybe not even Jesus. I was a no one and I would remain that way. How could this climactic day, end like this, so unfulfilled, leaving me so restless?

I mean the disciples trying to send people home made sense.  Here Jesus is teaching about caring for people and showing love.  So it only made sense that the disciples would understand that if people were going to get fed, then they would have to go in search of food – they were only thinking with the concern of the people in mind.  They didn’t have any food to give to everyone.  I mean, I would have come to the same conclusion.  The people need food, so it was time to leave, before everyone starved.  Those who didn’t connect with Jesus will just have to try some other time. But something in that did not sit well with me.  Here, my soul had been broken open, or at least I had come to the realization that it was broken open, and yet I had to leave with my soul metaphorically bleeding to meet a need of my flesh, to get some sustenance for my physical being. But something about my spiritual being was being threatened with starvation and thirst.

But apparently Jesus saw things differently.  In that moment, he took two fish and five loaves of bread – he blessed it and broke the bread and somehow miraculously made enough food for all of us. So much that more was left over. Jesus saw our physical need of making sure the hungry are fed, that we might remain with him just a little while longer that we might holistically be healed.  The irony is that Jesus provided all that we needed in that moment, yet society under the Roman Empire believes that food and all things needed are provide by the gods through the emperor.  And yet here is Jesus meeting our every need – addressing the ailments of our bodies, and the groans of our soul, and the ache within our bellies.  Jesus provided what the emperor could not. Jesus was directly challenging the authoritarian structure of society – calling for love, peace, and justice.  He fed the hungry both physically and spiritually.

But more than feeding the hungry, Jesus also created a space of divine fellowship, where it did not matter who we were, where we came from, or what we may have done – we were able to gather together over a holy meal created by Jesus, under the banner of Jesus’s teachings that perpetuate God’s love within the world.  This field seemed to be transformed from a field by the sea of Galilee to a glimpse of what I would expect the kingdom of God to be.

At some point I finally had a talk with Jesus, it wasn’t long but my heart was filled, he saw through to my soul – he let me feel the love of God deep within that I had long forgotten – that love that soothes the soul, that meets me in my need, the love that allows me to see my God how great thou art, love that transforms within, the love that makes me concerned about others, the love that makes me want to share this love that I felt, with the world.  And in it I became his follower trying to embody all that he taught: to love the outcast, to care for the poor, to show mercy to the imprisoned, to proclaim the kingdom of God over that of societal structures that seek to gain dominion from the oppression of others, to preach the good news of Jesus Christ.  On my own, I am prone to wander away from God’s grace but in Christ there is so much more, in Christ I feel whole, like God has met me deep within.  It was this moment where I said here is my heart Lord, seal it for your work Lord. That was the date that I met Jesus and was transformed and I vowed to continue to follow Jesus.  It was that day that my relationship with Jesus was sealed and it was revealed the greater understanding of what Jesus came to do.

As I continued to follow Jesus, after some time, they crucified that Jesus.  They came and arrested him, they beat him, they whipped him, they assaulted him until he no longer looked like himself.  They stretched him out on a cross, and nailed his hands and feet, they suffocated him as he gasped for air.  What had they done to my Lord, the one who contained so much love within that he transformed my life, the one who contained so much love that he saw the unseen – How could they do that to Jesus?  On that day Jesus hung his head and died, I was sure that my hope was gone – the light left my eyes and my heart – I did not know what to do. But I was able to gather with other followers – because through Christ I was no longer overlooked, I had a community in the followers of Jesus Christ.  I heard from other followers that after three days he was resurrected and brought new life.  They begin to teach that Jesus was crucified, that we might be justified, that we might be reconciled and brought in right connection with God – through Jesus we were saved.  It was in his resurrection that Jesus brought new life and redemption.  In that teaching I was reminded of that day that I met Jesus in the crowd of 5000 – As we all stand in need Jesus provides our redemption, Jesus provides our salvation – Jesus is that bread of life, that sustenance that grants us new life.  Jesus met the physical need of our stomachs that day, but it was a foreshadowing for the hunger of our souls that need God – for in Christ we are nourished and made whole.

But what Jesus brought about in that moment was a transformation that brought me love, it brought me a community to connect with under the banner of the love of Jesus Christ.  In Jesus I was no longer an overlooked nobody, but a person of worth in the eyes of God.  So through Jesus I decided to change my life – to join with the community of followers of Jesus and transform our lives in ways that reflect that Jesus lives within me, that I might be able to help others feel the love that Jesus made me feel as he saw within my soul that day on the field near the sea of Galilee.  So with the community of believers we seek to build the kingdom of God through modeling the actions of Jesus: to spread the news of Jesus Christ, to feed the hungry, to love the outcast, to pray continuously, and to challenge the status quo we know by challenging the oppressive structure and declaring the reign of the Kingdom of God and the salvation of Jesus Christ. Have you heard the good news of Jesus Christ? Jesus transformed my life – he healed my soul – my prayer is that you are transformed and that you can share the good news with someone else. Peace and Blessings, Amen.