James Smith, 1855
"Those who are whole do not need a physician — but those who are sick." Matthew 9:12
When the Lord Jesus was upon earth, he spent much of his time among the common people. He was often found visiting and teaching those who were considered great sinners. The self-righteous pharisees were offended at this, and they complained of it. "They said unto his disciples: Why does your Master eat with publicans and sinners?" In reply to their question, and in vindication of himself, Jesus said,"Those who are whole do not need a physician — but those who are sick."
No sinner can be really whole — but the pharisees imagined that they were, and so do many now. Such feel no need of the Savior, nor do they really desire a saving interest in him. He is not suited to them. They may speak well of him, as many healthy people do of a physician; but they will not apply to him, nor can they prize him.
Jesus is the friend of sinners. He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He is exactly suited to sinners, and he loves to be found among them.
The world is one vast hospital. Jesus is the only
physician in it; he has healed thousands, he will heal thousands more; but
multitudes reject him, they imagine they can do without him; they think that
they are whole, and therefore do not need a physician.
Sin is the disease of the soul. The sinner's state is a diseased state. He is sick — mortally sick. His sickness is hereditary. He inherited it from his parents. He brought it into the world with him. That is true of all, which was spoken by David of himself, "Behold I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me!"
Sin is increased by wicked habits. We go astray from the womb, speaking lies. We contract the habit of sinning, so that to sin becomes as natural to us as to breathe. The disease of sin is contagious. We contaminate others, and others increase our sickness. "Bad company corrupts good character."
The progress of this disease is constant — it spreads daily — almost insensibly, and especially from neglect. It produces great weakness, so that the sinner cannot of himself, do anything really good. He must be united to Jesus, and receive the Holy Spirit, before he can do anything truly good. "Without me," said the Savior, "you can do nothing."
It not only makes us weak, but stupid — so that we become careless and foolish. We are dying of disease — but are unconcerned about it; there is a skillful Physician at hand — but we refuse to apply to Him!
Sin has destroyed all our moral beauty, and left us loathsome, unsightly, and wretched. It produces innumerable and horrendous pains, and surrounds us with sorrows, cares, and woes.
Sin brings us to death — not only separating the body from the soul — but separating the soul from God!
Sin is the forerunner of eternal and unmitigated weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
There is no sickness is like sin — yet this disease is universal. All are sick! "Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good — not even one!" Romans 3:9-12.
This disease affects every part of man, "The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot, even unto the head, there is no soundness in it — only wounds and bruises and putrefying sores!" Isaiah 1:5, 6. Man is one mass of moral disease! Every power and faculty is disordered. All the elements of destruction are within himself. He deeply needs a physician, for he is dreadfully sick; so sick, that there is but a step between him and damnation!
My dear reader, this is your state! The Holy Spirit has given your portrait in the passages you have just read!
Can you recognize the likeness? If not — your eye is diseased!
Do you feel alarmed at the representation? If not — your conscience is diseased!
Are you determined at once to apply to the physician? If not — your heart is diseased!
The plague spot is upon you! You are very far advanced in
a moral and spiritual cancer — which is secretly hurrying you to eternal
death and damnation! O may the Lord . . .
open your eyes — that you may see your dreadful state;
enlighten your conscience — that you may be alarmed at your condition;
and quicken your soul — that you may repair to Jesus and receive health, healing, and everlasting soundness from His hands!
Jesus is a physician.His work is to heal souls. He is every way qualified for His work.
He is a wise and skillful physician. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him — and He employs them for the good of souls. He has been employed in healing sinners for six thousand years — His skill has never been baffled, nor has one patient died under His hand yet!
He is a kind and tender physician. Not one harsh word is ever spoken by Him, to a poor broken-hearted sinner; nor does He ever refuse to attend to any case. His kindness is such — that He weeps with those who weep! And His tenderness is so great — that it is said in reference to all His patients, "In all their afflictions — He is afflicted."
He is a friendly and faithful physician. There is nothing forbidding or austere in His manner, nor does He ever deceive. Friendship has erected her throne in His heart, and built her mansion in His bosom; and He is ever faithful to His word, and to the poor sick sinner who applies to Him.
He is a willing and accessible physician. Willing to heal anyone who is willing to be healed by Him — and to go anywhere to perform His miracles of mercy. As when applied to of old, He said "I will come and heal him!" Just so now! He stoops to the beggar in the dust, and visits the needy on the dunghill. He is always ready at hand. You need no messenger to send and fetch Him — He is within hearing! He is nearer than anyone else — He can hear the softest whisper of the heart!
He is the great physician, no one can be compared to Him for qualifications or success.
He is the good physician, no one beside Him can be found — who so kindly, so freely, and so effectually heals every applicant! His blood is the true balm of Gilead, and He is the skillful physician there.
It is not only His work — but His delight to heal sin-sick souls! And He heals them all freely, certainly, and perfectly! Those whom He restores to health — will enjoy health forever. He makes every one of His patients immortal — and surrounds them with all that can make them holy and happy forever!
Blessed physician, heal my soul! Heal me perfectly! Heal me at once! Heal me in your mercy this moment, and preserve me in health forever!
But many fall into the mistake of the pharisees. They imagine that they are in health; or at least, if not quite healthy, that they are not very sick. This is the very worst symptom of the disease. It proves that they are completely under sin's power; and while they remain in that state, they will never apply to the great physician. They feel secure, while the plague is in the heart. They despise the Savior, or at least, do not think that they need his aid; and therefore they do not call him in. They trust to their own remedies, and thus perish, in their own deceivings.
How lamentable — to die of disease, with the physician in the house, and to die simply because they refuse to apply to him, and prove his skill!
Dear friends, we are all either mortally sick — or under
Christ's healing process. Which is it? If you are under the physician's
care, then . . .
you have felt your sickness,
you have personally applied to him,
your heart is set against sin, and upon the possession of true holiness, which is health,
you are in some degree weaned from this present evil world,
and you come to the light of God's word, that your deeds may be reproved.
Do you imagine that you are whole? I beseech you to seriously consider this portion of the word of God, "There those who are pure in their own eyes — and yet are not cleansed of their filthiness!" Proverbs 30:12. Are you not in the same condition as the church at Laodicea, the members of which said, "We are rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing!" While in reality, they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked? Revelation 3:17.
Do you deeply feel your diseased and disordered state? If so, allow me to recommend to you most earnestly this great physician. Jesus is both able and willing to heal you. He has healed such cases as yours — and He has some in hand now. He will heal you. His terms are, "No Money! No Price!"
Are you healed? Then admire your physician's skill, and recommend him to every poor sick sinner you may meet with.
Are you under His healing process? Then visit him often; carefully attend to his prescriptions; and look for the signs of returning health. Never rest satisfied, until you feel the love of God shed abroad in your heart, and the peace of God keeping your soul as in a garrison!
Physician of my sin-sick soul,
To you I bring my case;
My raging malady control,
And heal me by your grace!
Pity the anguish I endure,
See how I mourn and pine;
For never can I hope a cure,
From any hand but thine.
I would disclose my whole complaint,
But where shall I begin?
No words of mine can fully paint
That worst distemper, sin!
It lies not in a single part,
But through my frame is spread;
A burning fever in my heart,
A palsy in my head!
It makes me deaf, and dumb, and blind,
And impotent and lame,
It overclouds and fills my mind
With folly, fear, and shame!
A thousand evil thoughts intrude,
Tumultuous in my breast,
Which indispose me for my food,
And rob me of my rest!
Lord, I am sick, regard my cry,
And set my spirit free,
Say, will you let a sinner die,
Who longs to live to thee?