A Word About Brokenness
Text: Luke 4:31-44
4 Epiphany, C
Dear friends in Christ, allow me to let you in on one of the worst kept secrets out there. Our world is broken. And not just a little broken … it is broken bad! All of it. Every part of it. With every new earthquake or flood or drought we see that nature is broken. With each passing question period and every new scandal we see that politics is broken. With each new argument, slander, gossip, hurt or misunderstanding we see how our every relationship is broken. With each new ache and pain, each new diagnosis, or disease we see that our own life is broken.
Oh sure, we can learn to make due with our broken world and broken lives. We can even tell ourselves that it isn't all that bad, but in the end there we're not really fooling anyone are we? We can even find new uses for all that brokenness – like telling ourselves that what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger. Playing the game that suffering strengthens character, or that it makes us more sympathetic to others … but in the end we still know that broken lives just aren't right.
So what are we to do with the problem of a broken world? What about suffering? Some people will use this very question as a means to either deny God, or hate God, or both. “We know who you are God! You're the one whose come to destroy us, aren't you?” Others don't want to go that far, but aren't sure how their suffering is supposed to make them love Him any better. How do you answer the problem of suffering in your own life? Better yet, how does God answer the problem of a broken world?
He answers it, with a word. In whatever form that brokenness appears, whatever venue that suffering comes, His answer is a Word. A strong word, a clear word, a word of authority! You see, a world that is broken by sin is an affront to the one who created it to be perfect and holy. A world that suffers at the hands of sickness, grief and pain, a world that is tormented by the wiles and works of the evil foe – cuts the very heart of our gracious and loving Father.
What is God's word about this broken world? Simply this – It was not always so. It is not meant to be so even now. It will not be so forever! God is not responsible for it, but He will respond to it. That is why Jesus came into our broken world, to begin the process of healing it. Wherever Jesus went … there the brokenness of this world and this life was rebuked, and wholeness was restored. And all with just a Word.
31 And [Jesus] went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. With His word of authority Jesus astonished the crowds. Nowhere else in this broken world had they heard such good news! Not just another hollow explanation for why there are hurts and griefs in this life. No, instead, He gave them THE Answer, for He gave them Himself! This Word made flesh has come to restore all flesh, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captive and oppressed. He is the Sun of righteousness come with healing in His wings.
33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, Be silent and come out of him! And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. With His word of rebuke He silenced the demon and sent it packing. It is a testament to how broken the world has become if demons sit happily in church, and freely run from one life to another wreaking harm and mischief along the way.
In fact, this demon is so brazen, it actually tries to best Jesus with his own malicious words. 34 Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God. In ancient magic and sorcery it was believed that to know the true name of something, that one true word which perfectly described it, was to have power over it. But Jesus simply commands this demon’s silence. Not another deceptive word will it be allowed to speak. For the Word that created all flesh has come in the flesh to free it from its foul bonds. And so rebuked with a Word the demon flees powerless, its damage undone as it if have never been.
Then, only minutes later and with a similar word of rebuke Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law of her fever. 38 And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. 39 And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Rebuking a fever? What kind of strange word is this? But really, why not? For everything that is broken is rightly rebuked by the one who sets all things right again. Fever, spirit, sickness, injury … it doesn’t matter to Him what is broken. Broken is broken. If it has marred His beloved creation it must be set right again.
And not just in some grand sweeping gesture, either. For each person’s and each creature’s hurts will receive His personal attention. First this woman in her fever, then any (and every) one who is brought to Him for healing. 40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. All through the night Jesus puts His hand on each and every one and speaks His Word to them alone.
Am I saying that Your hurts, Your ills, Your suffering and brokenness will also be healed? That Jesus will set right all that is wrong in Your life too? Why YES, dear friends. But it will happen not because I have promised it, but because Jesus has promised it. The answer to all your brokenness is not “IF.” It has never been “if” only “WHEN!” All that is broken will be made whole again, you have it on the very best authority. But when … well that is a matter that must be left to His authority alone. Will it be when I want it? How I want it? In the way I know in my heart is for the best? Let me answer by asking this: Do you really think that every single person there in Capernaum got every last thing they wanted?
No, of course not. But they did get Jesus. And with the Christ the also received the full promise of His kingdom. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is on a mission to bring His healing power of salvation to a whole world broken by sin. IN the preaching of the Good News, in the Water of Holy Baptism, in the heavenly banquet of His own Holy Table you have not only His Word, but His gracious Healing as well. And in those precious gifts there is so much in your life that has already been healed that you will never know. Yet, even so, there are some hurts that cannot be made right until He returns in glory. But hear this Word … Return He will, for this Sun will rise again, and when that day dawns and He comes in the fullness of His power and glory all that is broken will be made whole forever more. For He is the Holy One of God, the very Son of the Father, and when He speaks that healing His will be the final Word.