Grace, mercy and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus. Amen. Dear friends in Christ:
The Gospel lesson we just read begins with Jesus performing acts of physical healing. Those of us who’ve read the Gospels know that many more healings will follow. But at the end of this text Jesus also makes it clear that his main purpose is to preach. “Let us go on to the next towns that I may preach there also, for that is why I came,” he says. In the next sentence, the Gospel writer confirms that Jesus did continue to preach, adding that he also cast out demons.
In the specific wording of this short text we see a pattern. Jesus begins with preaching about God’s power and authority. These words lead to the casting out of evil. Physical healings are then often added in order to demonstrate the full extent of Jesus’ healing words. Jesus’ healing is for mind, soul and body, and this healing begins with the powerful words of God.
Our Old Testament lesson today is a powerful word from God’s prophet, Isaiah. We’ve been concentrating on the Old Testament readings this year and we will continue to do so today. This text from Isaiah is well-loved because of its beautiful promise and its memorable use of an image—the image of an eagle. “They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
Before we go any further, it occurs to me that those of you who are Philadelphia football fans might be hopeful that a reading featuring eagles is some kind of sign of your team’s success in tonight’s Super Bowl! I know we talked last Sunday about the church having a prophetic role in the world, but I’m thinking that’s probably not what’s going on here. But you can decide!