February 28, 2019

In Perfect Health

February 28, 2019


Psalm 99
Deuteronomy 9:1-5
Acts 3:11-16
This weekend’s reading: Luke 9:28-36

Today we begin reading Deuteronomy 9, part of Moses’ farewell address to the wandering Hebrews as they are about to cross the Jordon and enter the Promised Land. At first Moses sounds a little like the coach trying to convince Vanderbilt players that they really can beat a bigger and stronger team like Tennessee, no matter the odds. But this is no game, and we are brought up short remembering the bloodshed that lies ahead for the people occupying the land the Hebrews intend to settle. Violence is a part of our human heritage, not just in ancient times but in our country’s recent history of taking away the land of Native Americans with brutal force, to cite only one example. It is unthinkable that God would sanction any such slaughter, but the account here is told from Moses’ perspective. At the core of this chapter is sin. Moses goes on to list the multiple times the Hebrews had sinned against God in the wilderness. We cannot understand how taking back the land necessitated the wholesale killing of the land’s inhabitants and giving it to a sinful people. What we do know, and what Scripture comes to reveal, especially in the prophets, Gospels, and epistles, is that all human beings sin—all fall short of God’s glory—and that nevertheless God forgives.
In Acts 3, Peter and John call on Jesus’ name to heal a beggar at the temple. In the midst of the man’s walking and jumping for joy, a crowd gathers, and Peter uses the opportunity to preach a sermon on sin and God’s power to heal. Jesus had made the connection between healing and forgiveness in Luke 5 when the crowd questions his authority to forgive sins: “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’?” When he healed the blind man in John 9, Jesus made clear that God does not send disability or illness as punishment for sin. But like healing, forgiveness brings wholeness. Salvation means health. Peter says, “The faith that comes through Jesus has given this man this perfect health, which you all can see” (Acts 3:16). Was Peter suggesting that even for those who called for Jesus’ execution forgiveness was possible? Jesus himself offered this forgiveness from the cross (Lk 23:34).
How lost was my condition
Till Jesus made me whole!
There is but one Physician
Can cure a sin–sick soul. (John Newton, 1779)


  • John Newton also wrote “Amazing Grace.” What do you know about his life, a remarkable story of sin and forgiveness (engaging in the slave trade was only one of his “issues”)? What do you think turned him around?
  • Peter describes the man healed in Acts 3 as being “in perfect health.” What does “perfect health” mean to you?


  • Jesus invites us to be joyful in the way we live. Someone has called this “living in the sunshine of Jesus’ face.” Make a list of things we can do to live in “sunshine” (even on a cloudy day) and bring Jesus’ sunshine to other people.
  • Make colorful pictures or collages of living in Jesus’ sunshine. Send a picture to someone who is sad.

God our Creator, you sent Jesus to free us and make us whole. Guide and strengthen doctors and nurses and all who provide care for the sick. We pray for the health of our nation, for our church, for all who come to your mercy seat. Keep us well and strong that we may do your work with joy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.