Healed from the Dead
Psalm 41:1-4

1 Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.
2 The LORD protects and preserves them—they are counted among the blessed in the land—he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
3 The LORD sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.
4 I said, "Have mercy on me, LORD; heal me, for I have sinned against you."

A couple of weeks ago an elite group of Australians meeting together talked about the significance of Good Friday.  Among other things AFL captains, coaches, club presidents and administrators discussed whether or not the time had come to begin to schedule footy games on Good Friday.  Apparently opinion was divided.  Some said “Yes”.  While a significant number of others, according to a Herald-Sun reporter, voiced a strong “no” because they felt that Good Friday should continue to be dedicated to the Good Friday Appeal of the Royal Children’s Hospital.
Yes, I groaned with embarrassment for the world....
The thought has stayed with me.  I am interested in what our society makes of Good Friday and Easter in a post-Christian era.  A celebration of chocolate doesn’t quite cut it.  We want more than that; we long for more than that.  If a memory persists of a life-giving, love-giving act of sacrifice on the cross, we want more for that than a sugar buzz on this third day.  A four day long weekend surely warrants something to remember (lest we forget) that Easter has been set apart—a holy day, now holiday—has been set apart throughout the history of the making of our society....
Maybe a focus on the healing of children helps to give substance and meaning and a happy solemnity.  Healing...  Maybe that remnant memory is an invitation to speak the Gospel:  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!
Some of us began our Lenten worship this year on Ash Wednesday by praying for healing; we prayed from Psalm 41:   “Have mercy on me, Lord; heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
Today we celebrate that healing!  It would be quite appropriate if, through the ages, Christians had confessed, in their baptismal creed, “the third day he was healed again from the dead”; if we greeted each other with the words “Christ is healed!  He is healed indeed!”; and if the old Easter hymn were sung, “Christ is healéd, we are healéd!”  Because if you listen carefully and look closely at Jesus’ ministry, and if you hear the psalms and prayers of God’s people in the Old Testament, you will notice that sin is seen not so much as a set of mistakes or rules broken or good intentions not achieved, but as a condition that affects me wholly, and permeates everything in my life; an insidious decaying and destructive force that erodes personal and planetary relationships; that despoils God’s loving plans; that changes the emphatic declaration about me and you and the world in which we live—“It is very good!”—into that gracious prayer of Jesus, “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”
Jesus’ resurrection is the ultimate healing miracle.  In this year of following the Gospel of Mark, we see Jesus, with great determination, move from one crisis to another and speak the Word that heals the sick, that banishes evil, that calms the storm, that feeds the hungry—the creator is back in town!—Jesus performs one healing after another—healing of bodies, healing of spirit, healing of relationships, healing of the natural world—Jesus performs one healing after another until, all the sickness of all the sin of all the sad and sorry souls of all time is dramatically thrown at Jesus all at once and he collapses under the weight and dies and is buried and sealed away—which is just what we expect, because we all know the deal, we know how it works, you stuff up and you ruin something, and it all goes skew-whiff and it’s broken and it’s sick and it’s dying and it’s dead....
“No!”  God says.  I am the creator, not the destroyer.  I am the Saviour, not the one who condemns.  I am the one who hears your cry and answers your prayers, “who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.”
I would like you to consider two good reasons why it is appropriate and important that we celebrate the Easter resurrection of Jesus, God’s beloved child, as a healing miracle.
First of all, we need to live now knowing God’s final word to us.  Our hope, our peace, our joy, and the accompanying gifts of patience and compassion and gentleness and kindness, are all based on the fact that we live in the light of Easter.  We live knowing that God has the final Word on our being, and his final Word is “life”.  This means that we, by faith, take whatever our current situation or circumstance and we place it in the context of eternal life.  We are here to live!  We are here to stay, in the fellowship of our God, in his care and his love and his creation and re-creation and new creation.  Easter establishes and affirms the reference point for every other aspect of our world view, our sense of self, our philosophy of living, our life goals—everything.  We are alive in Christ Jesus, eternally, absolutely.
I don’t say that in a fluffy, chocolaty way.  Many of you, like me, have family and friends and colleagues who suffer the ongoing frustrations and hurts of chronic illness or disability, of separation in marriage and split families, of failed business ventures or lengthy unemployment or lack of a strong sense of direction in life, of land scarred by drought or flood or fire, of loneliness, or anxiety, or (should we go around the room?)...  And Easter is not an escapist holiday.  On the contrary, Jesus’ deathandresurrection—one word! one event!—unite us with him, our suffering and uncertainty and dying, like his, placed into the hands of the Father:  “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”  And then we wait...  We live in the era of the reality of the resurrection—of our own resurrection!—but we also live in ‘the wait’.  We wait in the presence of the living Jesus; but we wait.  And for some that means that the full experience of healing will not come immediately with the next medical discovery, or the next stimulus package, or the next reconstruction initiative.
One of the great resurrection stories in the Gospels is the beautiful story of Jesus coming to the grave of his friend Lazarus, and comforting Mary and Martha.  As a child, for me, the story was always about this amazing situation where someone who was dead was alive again.  And then, at some point down the track, I asked myself, “Whatever happened to Lazarus?  I suppose he died again....”  But, of course, right there in the middle of the story is Jesus who says, “I am the resurrection.  I am the life.”  Life is ‘in Christ Jesus’.  Whether Jesus arrived on time to cure the particular illness of the moment or not; Lazarus had life because Jesus was with him; and the same for Mary and Martha.  “Your brother will live again!” Jesus says.  “Everyone who has faith in me will live, even if they die.”  Jesus defines life beyond the measure of a heart-beat or breath or brain activity; Jesus defines life as that which God creates, gives, preserves as his activity, as his heart-beat, his breath, his will.
It is in Christ that we are healed, that we are made alive.   In Christ Jesus.
So when we take the “in Christ” concept of life, of living, we can then look and notice that in the Gospels, when we see people connected into the life and work of Christ Jesus, we see one resurrection after another.  A man suffering leprosy is healed to life, life restored—with family, with community, in the worshipping community.  A man paralysed, bed-ridden, is carried to Jesus and Jesus heals him to life—not, as we might think, by curing his paralysis, but by saying, “Yours sin is forgiven!”—there the life is restored, because there Jesus makes it absolutely clear that there is nothing separating him from the love of God—he goes on and cures the paralysis so that the man can dance suitably in celebration, and so that the crowds understand the power of the grace of God.  An adulterous woman is dragged before Jesus so that he might throw the first stone—but Jesus had come into the world to be its Saviour, not its judge—and the woman is healed to life—her shame, her guilt, her sentence removed.  A widow accompanies the funeral bier of her only son and Jesus stops the procession and heals the young man to life, and heals the ‘at risk’ mother to life at the same time—for God will not abandon his holy ones. 
The resurrection healing takes many more forms than we immediately look for.  Even at that first Easter Jesus’ resurrection is for Mary a restoration of peace and joy for in her mourning; for the disciples on the road to Emmaus it is a restoration of understanding God’s Word of promise, and trusting his faithfulness.  For Thomas the resurrection allows one full of doubts—because he is rational and analytical!—and Jesus meets him in his doubting place, so that he can be confident of his living presence.  For Peter, the resurrection ultimately means a three-fold confession, a three-fold commission—a healing from denial to witness, a healing from shame to rock-solid boldness in a life of service.
Reflecting on this kind of life-giving, life-restoring, life-empowering healing allows us to make our Easter celebrations much more than a looking forward to an amazing something one day somehow somewhere.  It allows us to live Easter, to live in Christ, to live having been healed—....
It gets a bit theoretical for me from this point.  Maybe we should go around the room!  You know better than I where the sore points are into which Christ’s life-giving healing will give you hope and peace and joy, as well as hope and peace and joy—and to the next guy, the one to whom you speak the Gospel of the risen Christ:  “I forgive you!”  “I am with you always!”   “I will never leave your nor forsake you!”   “Peace be with you!”   “Come to me...and I will give you rest!” ...or whatever healing, restorative, empowering, encouraging, emboldening Word of Christ’s living presence and, in Christ, your presence that you know those in your world need to hear...and need...to heal.
Go, in Christ, and live, and be his healed and healing people.  Amen.