Christianity 201

April 2, 2019

Did Jesus Get Sick?

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:06 pm
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I’ve been feeling ill all day. Just now, I realized I neglected to schedule a devotional here. Proving that I still have a vestige of my sense of humor, about 30 minutes ago, I asked myself, “Did Jesus ever get sick?”

When we say Jesus, just to be 100% clear, we’re referring to Christ incarnate.

A possible go-to verse on this would be Hebrews 4:15

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.  (NIV)

Some will want to argue that this verse is to be interpreted solely with respect to temptation. So let’s keep going. Philippians 2: 7-8 reads,

Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. (7 NLT)

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (8, ESV)

So far we’re making the argument that in his earthly body, he would have known what it meant to experience illness.

But then, about 40 years ago, an elder in our church proposed that Jesus had leprosy. He based this on Isaiah 53: 2b-4

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. (NIV)

At this one, I draw the line and say, “No!”

The reason is that in the scripture leprosy is a type of sin. (See this article for an explanation of Biblical typing.) Jesus was without sin. End of discussion. Jesus identified fully with the human condition when he “took on flesh,” and leprosy was common in that time and place, but where something has another layer of meaning, I think it goes too far to suggest something with such a strong sin-identification.

So, back to the question which forms today’s title…

A ‘yes’ at Culture Watch:

Second, as already mentioned, we are arguing from silence here. Very little is actually known about the earthly life of Jesus. As has been rightly stated, the gospels are basically extended introductions to the passion narratives. The last week of Jesus on earth receives most of the attention in the gospels, while his first thirty or so years of earthly life are largely passed over. Indeed, Paul seems to glory in not knowing Christ “after the flesh” (2 Cor. 5:16 KJV).

But even so, can we in fact know that Jesus never experienced illness? One way to approach this issue is to simply ask a number of questions about the life of Jesus on earth. Did Jesus ever:

Have nappy rash?
Have croup?
Cry as a baby?
Have a runny nose?
Have a headache?
Lose a tooth?
Have indigestion?
Throw up?
Have insomnia?
Have mosquito bites?
Get sunburn?
Suffer physical exhaustion?

True, not all of these conditions have to do with actual illness as such, but they help make my point. Just how exempt was Jesus from the common ailments and ordinary frailties of life? We do know of some human frailties experienced by Jesus: he was tired (John 4:6); he was thirsty (John 19:28); and he was hungry (Matt. 4:2).

We can tease all this out even further: Did Jesus ever fall as a boy and scrape his knee? If so, did that scrape get infected? Or did it heal instantly? These kinds of questions have to do with just how we are to understand Jesus and his full humanity.

A ‘no’ at this Protestant Reformed site:

First, Matthew 26:38 and Romans 8:10 make clear that sin makes the body weak, in fact, dead. But Christ’s body was neither dead nor weak.

Second, Jesus did not defeat, and did not know illness; He only commanded illness in others to depart. What sense would it make for Him to be sick, if He needed only say a word in order to be healed?

Third, the lamb for the sacrifices in Israel had to be without blemish. This pointed to Jesus (I Pet. 1:19). If He had His own weaknesses and sickness, then it would have been good for Him to take care of His own blemishes.

A “third way” answer at New Life Church:

“Did Jesus ever get sick?” The Bible never recorded he did. In fact, whenever Jesus touched the sick, instead of them contaminating him, he “infected” them, if you will, with his own cleanness. He actually touched lepers whose terrible skin disease was considered unclean (Luke 5:12-15; 17:11-19). He himself was touched by a woman who had been hemorrhaging blood for twelve years (Matt 9:20-22; Luke 8:43-48). No doctor could heal her. No medicine could help her. Jesus was declared unclean by the laws of Leviticus, yet this woman was healed when she touched the fringe of his garments.

When Jesus felt a cold coming on (or the nasty flu that was going around) did he zap himself with healing power? Great Physician, heal thyself (Luke 4:23). Was he the only little boy who never had to wash his hands because of germs? Many scholars say, “No! Jesus never got sick.”[1] They claim he had a perfect human body like Adam and Eve before the Fall. In fact, Jesus would not have even suffered and died unless he submitted himself to death. His genetics were uncorrupted since he never sinned and did not have a human father to tie him back to Adam’s sin. Surely, he suffered human weakness like hunger and thirst and tiredness, but he did not need to suffer illness. Yet although did not need to suffer, I like to think that Jesus chose to suffer illness. After all, he had a human body and he was “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15b).

Jesus eventually suffered the final human weakness by his death on our behalf. And if he submitted his perfect body to a human death, then certainly he could submit his body to sickness, yet without sin.

There are other views as well, but at the end of the day, the Bible doesn’t really answer this question.




January 19, 2011

Uh, Jesus, Can We Have a Word?

I always get something fresh from Perry Noble’s blog.  If I thought, or statistics showed, that most readers actually click the links, I would simply do this that way; but history shows us that’s not the case.   And I don’t want you to miss this.
What If The Religious Leaders Had Made A “Stop Doing” List For Jesus

Here are five things they MAY have asked Him to stop doing…

“Dear Jesus, we need you to stop doing the following things…

# 1 – You are really going to need to STOP healing on the Sabbath.  You see, we’ve worked really hard creating a religious system that works for us…and even though people ARE being healed (we cannot deny that) we just do not approve of the day you are doing it.  Sure, it’s miraculous…but the only miracles we are going to give approval of are the ones that take place in our system.  And please understand…not adhering to our request in this matter could prove to be detrimental to your ministry. (Matthew 12:1-14)

# 2 – Your methods of healing at times are quite reprehensible.  The fact that you spit on the ground…and just kept spitting SO MUCH that you were able to make mud…and then placed that mud on the eyes of a blind person is flat out unacceptable.  (John 9:1-11)  The fact that he gained his sight is beside the point…the way you did it is unacceptable.  AND the people you heal are bragging about what you did in their lives…we simply cannot have that and if you don’t shut them up then we will (see John 12:9-11).  It’s NOT about results…it’s about our system!

# 3 – Your character associations have gone way too far.  It has been reported that you have spoken to a Samaritan woman (John 4) and that you have actually called a tax collector to be among your inner circle (Matthew 9:9-13).  In fact, as we observe your most dedicated followers we are deeply concerned that you don’t seem to have any religious professional among those closest to you.  We believe this is a grave mistake; after all, what in the world would You EVER believe you could accomplish through those unschooled, ordinary men?  (Acts 4:13)

# 4 – We do not approve of your teaching methods.  Seriously…anytime someone asks you a question you always break into a story!  Is that really necessary?  Because of this type of behavior we can only conclude that you simply want to entertain people.  AND…the little trick you did with the loaves and fish simply prove to us that all you are interested in doing is drawing a crowd. Please cease from this type of activity and just try to engage people with “deep” theological that will equip you listeners to feel morally and intellectually superior to those who do not know as much as them.  When you tell your stories you do nothing more than twist the Scriptures to make them say whatever you want…you should know better!

# 5 – Your language is quite offensive..and we’re going to ask you to tone it down.  Seriously Jesus, you calling us all “sons of hell” was a little over the top (see Matthew 23:15)…AND the fact that you called us a bunch of snakes, actually comparing us to the devil (Matthew 23:33) shows us that you seem to lack compassion.  Finally, I don’t think a godly man would EVER say of us that we were liars and that we are the result of our mother having sex with the devil (John 8:40-44).  Tone it down Jesus, you are highly offensive.  AND seriously…was the thing with the whip necessary…you seem to have anger management issues (John 2:13-17).  A godly man simply would not act like this.”

by Perry Noble.

Jesus teaching and ministry style was not what his contemporaries expected.  I love the quotation from Walter Wink, “If Jesus had not lived, we never would have been able to invent him.”

October 31, 2010

Confronting the Powers

For the message I prepared today for a church in Toronto, rather than running away from Halloween, I chose to confront it.

We looked at some supernatural encounters in scripture, including

  1. Simon the Sorcerer (aka ‘Great Power’) in Acts 8:9ff.  He was a baptized follower of the Apostle Phillip, and yet parts of his old life — the love of the spotlight, for example — still lingered.
  2. The Seven Sons of Sceva in Acts 19: 11-16.   The demons they tried to confront knew of the Apostle Paul and they knew Jesus, but they basically taunted the seven sons with “Who are you?”   The world isn’t interested in what we have to do or say on our own strength, but rather, on whether or not Christ is flowing through us.
  3. Demetrius in Acts 19: 23-27.   Christianity was turning out to be bad for the whole idol-making business.   There are entire industries with a vested interest in retaining followers.   If people really do turn to God, that will change.  (But we have to be careful that we don’t create similar industries in the Christian world.  Hmmm.)
  4. The Demon-Possessed Man in Mark and Luke and Men in Matthew 8:24-34.   This wasn’t just a healing.  There was a third party — demons — involved in this story.    Jesus affirms their reality.

For a good  spiritual showdown, we also looked at I Kings 18: 16ff, the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal.    Elijah just knew that God was going to come through.   The buckets of water were a nice touch!

We contrasted Jesus’ words to the imprisoned John the Baptist (“Go back and report to John what you hear and see:  The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor…”) with his words to Thomas after the resurrection (“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”)

We also were reminded of Ephesians 6:12, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms…”

We finished up with John’s admonition in 1 John 4: 1-6 to test the spirits.

1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

4You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

Some credit for this message concept must go to my favorite Reformed pastor and friend, Jack Vanderveer.