The great physician at work

Jesus Christ still heals today. Faith is the foundation. But that alone will not do it: this is the diagnosis from a divine service by the Chief Apostle.

Although the sermon took place in an empty church, the divine service on 17 January 2021 counted around 23,000 participants. Because of the pandemic, the divine service for North America was streamed from Strasbourg in France.

The Bible text for the sermon was Matthew 17: 15–16: “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

Jesus Himself healed the boy who could not hear or see anything during his epileptic seizures and who was considered to be possessed by a demon. This is how Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider explained it and asked: What does this miracle mean?

Going to church is not enough

To be able to understand this one must consider the cultural context. For the Jews of that time it was clear: anyone who fell ill had sinned. As a result, sick people were considered unclean and were forced to the margins of society.

Jesus wanted to show that He had been sent by God to bring salvation, the Chief Apostle explained. “Sins are forgiven, you can have fellowship with God, you can have fellowship with the people of God. That is the meaning of the miracle.”

However, every time Jesus also clearly stated the condition required for this: “Your faith has made you well.” And: “All things are possible to him who believes.” However, this faith needs to be genuine. It is not enough to call oneself a Christian, go to church regularly, and pray. True faith is about doing the will of God every day.

Experiencing the healing power of Jesus today

The healing power of Jesus Christ can also be experienced today, the Chief Apostle emphasised.

  • He wants to deliver us, He wants to heal the soul. That is an ongoing process.
  • Even in difficult times we can experience His love, His kindness, His nearness. Jesus comforts us.
  • He also wants to cast out unclean spirits through His teaching. They can be recognised by the fact that they want to draw us away from Jesus Christ. When it is inspired by the Holy Spirit, the fruit is peace, love, kindness, self-control.
  • A danger for many today, especially in difficult times, is that they become deaf and dumb: they are no longer interested in the fate of others. “You are a witness of Jesus Christ. Don’t forget that.”

The Master is still at work

There is something peculiar about the account of the healing of the young epileptic boy. Although the disciples had received power from Jesus Christ to cast out unclean spirits, they were unable to help the boy. Jesus explained to them the importance of prayer and fasting. Chief Apostle Schneider also transferred this into the present:

  • The decline in membership in certain parts of the world certainly does raise questions regarding the authority of the Apostles. This calls for trust: “The Master is still here, and the Master is Jesus Christ. He takes care of His flock. He will fulfil His work of salvation.”
  • Merely receiving the acts of salvation through the Apostles does not automatically lead to salvation: “We need to pray, to struggle for our salvation: ‘Please God, grant me Your grace.’”
  • From a spiritual point of view, fasting is about focusing on the essentials, the Chief Apostle said: “For sure, there are a lot of things to do and deal with in our Church.” However: “What is essential is to remain steadfast in the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

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Andreas Rother
North America, Chief Apostle, Divine service