Good Medicine
Monday after the Last Sunday in Church Year
28 November 2017
Some years ago, there has been a radio commercial touting a cough medicine that tasted terrible. In the commercial, a consumer calls the help line of the manufacturer complaining that the medicine tastes like "porta-potties at the state fair." Yech! I wonder how the consumer might know what this tastes like, but perhaps the answer to that is just "too much information." I haven't heard any advertisements for this medicine in some time, so maybe their "it tastes bad" marketing strategy didn't work out. Of course, the premise here is that medicine that tastes bad must work. In the commercial the help line adviser asks the caller if he has coughed since taking the cough suppressant, and lo and behold, he hasn't. See, bad tasting medicine works!
 
As a child, I don't recall succumbing to this logic, when it was presented by parents who were coaxing me into taking some foul smelling and tasting concoction prescribed by the local doctor. In fact, the more encouragements like, "It doesn't taste too bad," and "just swallow it quick," I heard the less cooperative I became. I remember thinking, "Oh, yeah? Why don't you give it a try?" Bad medicine that is good for you just gets rebellion.
 
I knew a woman who, terrified of chemotherapy, chose to die of cancer rather than take the cure regime, which by all accounts was quite mild and had an extremely high success rate. Basically, she chose to suffer death rather than suffer medicine. Despite all the possible encouragements she could be given, she took her chances with death rather than life. Likewise, many unbelievers are of this mind in the matter of eternal salvation. They find the medicine of the cross of Christ to be repugnant, and holding their noses splutter and complain because it tastes bad or smells objectionable. They don't like the color of the antibiotic to life and so decline to take it. They object to the method of its administration, through hands of pastors, and refuse to listen to them because they count them frauds and quacks. We should not be discouraged by their objections, any more than we decline to care for those psychiatric patients who refuse to take their medications. Their animosity toward us confirms more certainly their need for the medicine of life.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   John Chrysostom
"To the sick and gasping even wholesome foods are unpleasant, friends and relations burdensome; who are often times not even recognized, but are rather accounted intruders. Much like this often is the case of those who are perishing in their souls. For the things which tend to salvation they know not; and those who are concerned about them they consider to be troublesome. Now this ensues not from the nature of the thing, but from their disease. This is just what the insane do, hating those who take care of them, and besides reviling them. The same is the case with unbelievers also. But as in the case of the former, they who are insulted then, more than ever are compassionate toward them, and weep, taking this as the worst symptom of the disease in its intense form, when they know not their best friends. So also in the case of unbelievers let us act, and even more than for our wives, let us wail over them, because they know not the common salvation. For a man should not love his wife more than we should love all men, and draw them over to salvation; be a man a Gentile, or be he what he may. For these then let us weep; for 'the word of the cross is folly to them,' although being itself Wisdom and Power. For Paul said, 'The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing' (1Co 1:18).
 
"Since the Greeks derided the Cross, it was expected that [immature Christians] would resist and contend by aid of that wisdom, which came from themselves, because they were disturbed by the expression of the Greeks. Paul comforted them by saying that they should not think what was taking place was strange and unaccountable. This is the nature of the thing, that its power is not recognized by those who are perishing. For they are beside themselves, and behave as madmen. So they rail and are disgusted by the medicines which bring health."

John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Corinthians, 4.1
1 Corinthians
1:18-31

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
 
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." (ESV)
Prayer
Lord Jesus, You have promised to come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. Help us to live in faith as we await Your coming that we might lift up our heads in joy to see your return. Keep us from doubt and unbelief, so that inoculated from death by Your cross we might be free from fear of Your reappearing. Give us a heart for those who still deny You and the blessed medicine of immortality that flows from Your cross. Grant us the courage to care for those who do not care for Your gifts. Amen.
 
For the newly elected officers of Memorial Lutheran Church, that they would be strengthened in their service to the Lord
 
For Michael Koutsodontis, that the Lord Jesus would give him strength and hope as he undergoes treatment for cancer
 
For the family and friends of Millie Johnston as they give thanks to God for His goodness to her, that they would grieve as those who have hope in the resurrection of the flesh and the life of the world to come

For all those who do not await the coming of the Lord Jesus, that they might be brought to faith in the Lord who promises to return to rescue His people
 
For those who are oppressed by their sense of human weakness in the presence of God, that Christ the Lord might lift them up forever
Art: Jan van EYCK, The Adoration of the Lamb (1430s)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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