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By Dr. James C. Denison
President, the Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, Texas
July 6, 2010
Topic: hope in Christ

I think I have encephalopathy

Are you suffering from petechiae after the holiday weekend? Dealing with dyspepsia? Trying to stop viral shedding? You’re not as sick as your diagnosis may seem.

This morning’s Wall Street Journal reports that federal and state officials are pushing health professionals to simplify the language they use in telling us what’s wrong with us. For example, “petechiae” is medical-speak for skin rash, “dyspepsia” is indigestion, and “viral shedding” is coughing or sneezing. It’s enough to give a person “encephalopathy” (brain dysfunction).

Sometimes we can’t understand our doctors, and sometimes we can’t find one. Consider the astounding story of Luke Tresoglavic. According to the Associated Press, this man walked into a lifeguard post on a beach north of Sydney, Australia, looking for help with the small shark attached to his leg. Mr. Tresoglavic was snorkeling on a reef when the shark attacked him. He swam 1,000 feet to shore, but the shark wouldn’t let go. Some people on the beach tried to help, but to no avail.

So the man got into his car, drove to the clubhouse, and asked for help. The lifeguards flushed the shark’s gills with fresh water. It then loosened its grip, with blood oozing from 70 punctures in the man’s leg. Mr. Tresoglavic was treated at a hospital. The shark later died. Now it’s safe to go back into the water.

There is one Great Physician who still makes house calls. In Matthew 9, we read that “a ruler came and knelt before Jesus and said, ‘My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live'” (v. 18). Envision this remarkable scene. The “ruler” was the person in charge of the Capernaum synagogue, one of the largest yet discovered in Israel. Archaeologists have unearthed the man’s home, located adjacent to the synagogue, and are impressed with its size and significance.

By contrast, Jesus was an unschooled Galilean carpenter who had begun an itinerant preaching ministry. He had just invited Matthew, the town tax-collector and Public Enemy Number 1, to join his band of disciples and was eating dinner with him and “many tax collectors and ‘sinners'” (v. 10). For this synagogue ruler to enter Matthew’s home, much less to kneel before this unlicensed preacher and seek his help, was a step of remarkable humility and faith.

Jesus honored his commitment immediately, going to his home and his deceased daughter. Though ritual laws forbade him to touch her corpse, “he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up” (v. 25).

Now he’s ready to make a call to your house and soul. Why do you need his healing touch this morning? Our culture tells you to try harder, get up earlier, stay up later, depend on yourself. Jesus tells you that if you will submit your problem to him in humble faith, he will reward your commitment with his presence, power and peace. No medical jargon required.

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