A Deeper Healing
Jeremiah 6:14When she was about eighty years old, my grandmother began to feel just a little less than well. So she went to see her doctor, who referred her to a specialist. It turned out that my grandmother had a malignant tumor in one of her kidneys. Yet the doctor was reassuring, believing that the cancer had not spread and that, after having a kidney removed, my grandmother would be fine.
For my family and me, this was good news . . . but not for my grandmother. Because she wasn’t feeling too bad, she did not like the idea of having surgery, not at all. She would have been satisfied with medicine that relieved her minor discomfort and nothing more. But her doctor knew that this wouldn’t solve her problem and would, in fact, allow a potentially deadly cancer to keep growing in her body. So he insisted that she needed to undergo a painful surgery because she needed deeper healing.
The “doctors” of Jerusalem in the time of Jeremiah were happy to offer “medicine” rather than “surgery.” They did not address the “mortal wound” of God’s people, which was their rejection of God and his ways. The prophets and priests were “all frauds,” according to God’s indictment through Jeremiah (6:13). In particular, they were giving “assurance of peace when there [was] no peace” (6:14). Even though the armies of Babylon were approaching, and even though God was warning his people to repent, their religious leaders (besides Jeremiah) were promising that God would give them to Judah so the people had nothing to worry about. What the Jews needed at that time was an incisive word of judgment that would turn them from sin back to God, not a friendly pat on the back.
For those of us who are preachers and teachers of God’s Word, whether as pastors or Sunday school teachers or parents or friends, Jeremiah 6:14 reminds us to be faithful to deliver God’s truth, even when it is painful. For those of us who receive God’s truth through preaching, teaching, and the reading of Scripture, this verse urges us to pay attention to the bad news. All of us need to be reminded of our sin at times, so that we might turn to God and his forgiveness in Christ. We need the deeper healing that touches, not just our superficial wounds, but our whole selves.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: If you are in the place of a preacher or teacher, how do you communicate the “bad news” of sin and its consequences? How willing are you to hear the truth about your own sin, so that you might be open to the forgiving, restoring, healing work of God?PRAYER: Gracious God, as a preacher and teacher, I must confess that there is a part of me that is tempted to be like the religious leaders of Israel. I like announcing peace. I like telling people the good news. I don’t especially want to bring up the bad news, even though I know how essential this is. So, forgive me, Lord, when I fail to say what needs to be said because I want people to like me.
Help me also, dear Lord, to be open to the whole news of the Gospel, including the parts that convict me of my sin. May your Word be sharper than any two-edged sword in my life, cutting through my defenses, revealing my great need for you. And then, dear Lord, may the sword of your Word be a scalpel that cuts out the cancer of sin within him. Make me clean and healthy, so that I might live for you fully and freely.
I pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.