Sermon Ideas For Mark 1:21-28 Part 2
Jesus' authority is the theme of this lesson from Mark. It is interesting that this authority seems to be recognized in two separate categories: first, that of his teaching, and second, that of healing. Many of us, having submitted ourselves to endless prodding and pushing from physicians over the years, may have wished we had Jesus, the Great Physician, in place of whomever might have been the "quack specialist" of that particular disease. But we continue to submit because the centuries have proven that the one who has the power to heal, also carries a great deal of authority.
Uses and abuses of authority in the medical field have been dealt with abundantly in film. Recall The Doctor, where William Hurt, himself a physician, discovers turnabout is not fun when he must submit himself to the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" as a patient in his own hospital. Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Crippen, and Dr. Jekyll conjure up wild images of medical men gone mad in the name of science, and fuel our fears about the technological expertise embodied in those to whom we entrust our very beings.
This fear of our own death is well documented in literature and scholarly pastoral work, but may never be more acute than when we ourselves first feel that lump, or awaken in the night with a deep pain, or experience severe injury. We have seen doctors from Kildare to Ben Casey, from Dr. Benson on ER to Dr. Kronk on Chicago Hope fight against all odds, and often against reasonable practices in an effort to win the war against the Grim Reaper. Heroic measures are taken, new procedures are attempted, radical treatments are instituted, all in hopes of cheating death, beating the odds, winning at all costs. You would think the phrase, "Never say die!" came from a doctor.
But into these images have been inserted some memorable physicians who seem to care more about the person than the mortality rate. In Medicine Man, Sean Connery fights the destruction of the Amazon rain forest and its inhabitants while searching desperately for a cure for cancer. Even though his goals are high and his struggle heroic, there is a deep respect and sensitivity for the natives of the forest with whom he lives. His dream has epic proportions, but the smallest child remains his concern.
Faith healing might offer up some good illustrations when we look at Jesus as healer, for his response was always to the immediate need set before him. Sometimes there was faith in the recipient, other times the faith resided in the gathered supporters of the one to be healed, but always the deepest receptacle of faith is Jesus himself. Good stories about those faithful healers of history like Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa or Florence Nightingale might pepper your exploration of how the authority inherent in healing has played itself out in history. Or you may want to rent Resurrection, a film about a woman (Ellen Burstyn) of great faith who develops healing powers, or Leap of Faith with Steve Martin as a con-man revivalist, to find other examples of how faith and healing have been integrated on film over the past few decades.
Susan Langhauser Advent Lutheran Church Olathe, KS