Christ a Physician

“But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” Matthew 9:12

The same is repeated, Mark 2:17, with which you may compare Isaiah 61:1, in which places the term is attributed to Christ the Redeemer; the metaphor being taken from Physicians, because he gives spiritual healing in soul-diseases, as Physicians do in the diseases of the body; see also Luke 5:31. We read, Job 13:4, of “physicians of no value:” such indeed are all to whom application for remedy is made, besides this heavenly Physician, who never fails to cure such as receive his prescriptions. In what respects Christ is termed a Physician, is to be seen in the following parallel.

METAPHOR PARALLEL
A Physician is a person skilful in distempers of the body, knows the nature of diseases.   Jesus Christ is very skilful in distempers of the soul and body too; he knows what the nature of every sin is, (which is the disease and sickness of the soul.)
A Physician is one that knows the nature of simples, and other ingredients that are good for cure; studies the nature of herbs, plants, and minerals. Christ knows what the nature, virtue, and property is, of all spiritual medicines, that are good to cure the soul. The nature of his word is Spirit. John 6:63.
A Physician is one that is authorized or licensed. They are first tried, and approved, and commissioned, before they are admitted to practice physic, because many pretend to it that have no skill, but are mere cheating quacks, and mountebanks, that kill more than they cure.   Christ, the spiritual Physician, is authorized and appointed to his work. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,” Luke 4:18. All he did was as he received commandment from the Father. He was tried man ways, and gloriously approved, to be every way able and capable to undertake the care and cure of souls.
A Physician ought to show and produce his authority or license to practice physic, to such as have power to require it, that so it may be the better known, whether he be what he says or not, there being many counterfeit Physicians. Christ, when he was asked about his commission, or by what authority he did those things showed his power and license to all, produced his Father’s seal to his commission, by the mighty wonders he did: he had John also to bear witness to him, but saith he, “But I receive not testimony from man but I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.” John 5:34,36. By which means he made it appear in new ways and means to cure souls, if they cannot confirm their doctrines by such mediums that no deceiver can pretend unto, they are mere cheats and imposters.
A Physician ought to know the name and nature of that particular disease under which his patient laboureth; he that knoweth not the distemper, can never cure it unless by chance.   Christ knows the inward parts, knows every sin and disease of the soul, knows whether it be the distemper of the stony heart, or the tympany of pride, or unbelief (that consumption of the soul) or whatever plague or disease doth afflict thee.
A Physician, as he ought to know the name and nature of he disease, so he must know the cause of the disease. The cure is found, saith one, in the cause; to discover whence the distemper grew, and what the occasion of it was, directs unto the remedy.   Jesus Christ doth not only know every distemper of each man and woman, but also the cause of it, the first rise from whence it springs; what diseases are epidemical, and what not; whether the cause arises from within, from that inward and universal sickness; or whether the present grief arises more immediately from an infectious air, persons, or distempered companions, the ruin of many souls: whether it arises from unbelief, or worldly-mindedness, or neglect of duty, temptation of Satan, or from other causes, he knows them all.
It behoves a Physician to know the constitution of his patient; thereby he finds out what diseases the patient is most subject and liable to. Christ knows the inclinations or every soul, what sin or sins do most easily beset them, Hebrews 12:1-2; or they are chiefly subject unto, whether it be pride, or passion, or the inordinate love of the creature or whatever else.
A Physician ought to know what diseases are chronic or habitual, from such as are acute, that have seized on the patient suddenly, by heats, colds, blood, or from other causes. Christ knows all the habitual disease of the soul, such distempers as are inveterate, stubborn, contumacious, from those common weaknesses and infirmities of Christians, which the best of men may be overtaken with.
A Physician ought to be an experienced man; that greatly tends to his more necessary accomplishment: for if he be one that hath not seen the effect of his medicines in his own body nor in others, it is hard venturing to have to do with him.   Christ is well experienced; no Physician so ancient, or hath had so long experience of distempers of the body, as he hath had of the disease beginning of the world, of all manner of sicknesses and disease whatsoever.
A Physician useth proper and suitable preparatives to dispose his patient’s body to a cure. Jesus Christ useth proper and meet preparatives, to dispose and fit men for their spiritual cure; makes them sensible of their state and condition by nature; humbles, and lays them low at his feet; puts them upon the duty of prayer, and hearing the word; and quickly after the cure follows.
A Physician prescribes proper medicines for every disease; he does not apply medicines that are hurtful and noxious, such as rather kill than cure, that instead of having virtue in them to cure, are of a poisonous nature, or have no virtue at all. Jesus Christ knows what is proper for every disease of the soul, and applies such medicines as are meet and proper, according to the distemper, such as are not hurtful and dangerous, or that have no healing or saving quality in them; doth not send them to the light within, to principles of mortality, to Popish pardons, or dispensations from Rome, to a bare reformation from a notorious and scandalous life, or an external profession of religion, prayer, hearing the word, alms-deeds, to trust or rely upon for salvation: but contrariwise, to faith in his own blood, to repentance and remission, through the atonement and merits of his sacrifice on the cross, Mark 1:15, John 3:36 and 7:37.
A Physician doth not only know what medicines are good for his patient, but also takes care to apply them at a right time; if those things that are proper for the disease be not rightly and wisely applied, the effects are lost. A man may do as much hurt by giving a good medicine, as by giving an ill one. Hence it is vulgarly said, that that which is one man’s help, is another man’s death, one man’s meat, is another a man’s poison.   Christ makes a right application of truth, as well as he applies that which is good and proper in itself; he does not preach the terrors of the law, the severity and justice of God, to a poor broken soul, that lies languishing and trembling, that has the pillars of his comfort shaken with the breakings of divine wrath; for such an one he does not prescribe corrosives, but cordials, and supports from the mercy of God, Luke 10:34. He pours the oil of gladness into his wounds, and gives him the wine of consolation. On the other hand, when a soul is stubborn, swelled in pride, impenitent, presumptuous, contemning advice and godly counsel, yet say, “I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst,” Deuteronomy 29:19; to apply pardon, and the glad tidings of salvation to such a soul, may be its hardening and undoing. Though mercy may be tendered to the ungodly, for God justifies such; yet says, not to a man that perseveres in his ungodliness, that will justify or pardon him; but contrariwise says, he will not pardon them, but condemn and destroy them, John 8:24 and 3:18, Romans 8:13. The worst of sinners may be saved, but God will not save them in their sins. It is dangerous to daub with untempered mortar, to pronounce, ”Peace, peace; when there is no peace,” Jeremiah 6:14.
A Physician is very diligent and careful of his patient he hath in cure, looks with a quick eye, tries the pulse, and gives great charge to all that attend upon him.   Christ is very diligent and careful of poor sinners that he undertakes, tries their hearts and reins, Revelation 2:23, hath eagle’s eyes, his eyes are never off them; gives charge to his servants, ministers of the Gospel, to look carefully after them, that they want nothing, Luke 10:34, that every direction be followed, and wholesome diet provided.
A Physician rectifies disorders, and inequality of humours. Christ rectifies disorderly affections, and other faculties of the soul. When pride or worldliness would predominate, he checks those evils by his Word, Spirit, or by affliction, a sharper way of cure; and endeavors to balance the soul with an equality of every grace, that there may be love as well as faith, 2 Peter 1:5-6, and that “patience have her perfect work,” James 1:4.
A Physician searches wounds to the bottom, to prevent inward festering, corruption, or proud flesh that may spoil the sure.   Jesus Christ cures none slightly that he undertakes, but searches to the quick, breaks the very heart to pieces, and lays it open, with applying caustics and corrosives, afflictions, corroding medicines, and then effectually cures it: “they were pricked in their heart,” Acts 2:37.
A Physician, in desperate cases, when a member is corrupted, and comes to a gangrene, so that the body is in danger, prescribes ways to cut it off.   Jesus Christ prescribes a way to his church, to cut off a corrupt or rotten member, when no other means will preserve it, Matthew 5:29 and 18:17.
A Physician deals very tenderly in binding up the wounds of his patient; though he hath a lion’s heart, when he hath to do with some in dangerous cases, yet he hath a lady’s hand, when he comes to others.   Christ carries it gently and very tenderly, when he hath to do with some poor brokenhearted sinners. “A bruised reed shall he not break,” Isaiah 42:3. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28.
A Physician gives antidotes to preserve from distempers, and save from infection.   Christ uses many sovereign antidotes and preservatives to deliver from the infection of sin, his word, promises or threatenings. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee,” Psalm 119:11.
A Physician prescribes rules to men and women to preserve health, as to meat, drink, sleep, exercise, etc.   Jesus Christ hath prescribed golden rules to saints, how they may preserve their souls in a healthful condition, to avoid surfeiting, all excess, and immoderate use of this world, Luke 21:34; to keep good company, and to keep a good diet; to live under an able and powerful ministry, and to be frequent in the exercise of religious duties, prayer, meditation, reading God’s word, and Christian conference.
A Physician, when he finds his patient’s spirits ready to faint, swoon, and die away, gives him of his choice and high-prepared spirits.   Christ, when he finds the soul of a believer under affliction, losses, temptation, persecution, begins to faint, and his spirit low, he gives more of his Holy Spirit; the Spirit of faith is the choicest spirit in this case in the world; it will not only revive and quicken a dying and doubting Christian, but will raise to life such as are dead in sins and trespasses, Ephesians 2:1. “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living,” Psalm 27:13.
A Physician greatly rejoices, to see his medicines take their desired effect, and work an effectual cure on his patient.   Christ rejoices greatly when he sees his Word take place upon the heart of sinners, and when afflictions, like powerful potions, cleanse the soul from all those noxious humours, that bring sickness and manifold distempers on the soul, and that his patient is effectually cured.
A Physician often visits his patient. Christ often visits his poor patients that stand in need of his help.
It behoveth a Physician to be faithful to his patient, to let him know how it is with him, whether better or worse; if death is like to ensue, he lets him know it. That he may prepare for it. Christ is very faithful to poor sinners, he lets them know the worst of their estate, that death is like to ensue, if they repent and believe not. “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” Luke 13:3, 5. “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins,” John 8:24.
METAPHOR DISPARITY
The most learned Physician in the world may be deceived in his judgment about the cause and nature of a distemper and so miss of the cure. Christ cannot be mistaken about the cause and nature of any spiritual disease, because he is God, and knoweth all things, yea, the very thoughts of he heart. “For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether,” Psalm 139:4.
Some Physicians, through ignorance or carelessness, administer very destructive and ill-prepared medicines, often killing more than they cure.   Christ never administered any improper medicines; all is well and skilfully prepared, that Christ gives forth to his patients; if the dose be hard and unpleasant to take, yet there is no aloes, nor one dram of bitter ingredient in it, more than he sees a necessity of. Neither do any miscarry under his hand; for he wants neither skill nor care. So that if a sinner perishes, it is for not coming to him, or not taking his medicines, and not observing of his directions.  “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help,” Hosea 13:9.
Physicians come not to the sick, until they are sent for; and though they come not far, yet expect to be paid for that, besides their physic. Christ came to us who sent not for him, which made him say, “I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not,” Isaiah 65:1. The patients seek not first, come not first, to the Physician, but the Physician to the patient. “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,” Luke 19:10, and besides he dearly paid all the charge of his long journey.
Physicians are mercenary, do all for hire; some pay for the physic (it is to be feared) much more than it is really worth. Christ, the spiritual Physician, doth all freely, “without money and without price,” Isaiah 55:1. We never read of his taking a penny of any of all those he cured in he days of his flesh, either of distemper of body or soul.
A Physician will be sure not to lay out any of his own treasure to cure his patients, will not be wounded himself, to heal others, or part with his own blood to do it.   Christ made himself very poor, and laid out plentifully his divine treasure, that he might cure poor sinners of all their maladies. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich,” 2 Corinthians 8:9. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed,” Isaiah 53:5. We could not live, such was our disease, unless our Physician died; he therefore poured forth his own blood, to wash and cleanse our wounded, sin-sick souls, 1 Peter 2:24.
Earthly Physicians cannot raise the living; their patients die whilst they are with them, and oftentimes whilst they look on them.   Christ cures not only the living, but also the dead; he out-does all other Physicians in this respect; if he speaks the word, “Lazarus, come forth,” John 11:43. “The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live,” John 5:25. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;” Ephesians 2:1.
Physicians cannot bless their physic, know not how to make it effectual to this or that patient; the whole success of what they give depends upon another.   Christ can make effectual all his medicines; he can say peremptorily, this soul, this sickness I will heal, and it is immediately done. “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will,” John 5:21.
Physicians are not patient under repulses; they cannot bear to be kept out of doors, and slighted by the sick they come to cure. Christ, the spiritual Physician, is endued with infinite patience under all those base repulses he meets with from vile sinners. When he comes to heal, he oftentimes stands at their doors, and knocks, waiting till his Head is wet with dew, and his locks with the drops of the night, before he can persuade sinners to open to him, Song of Solomon 5:2; other Physicians will not do so.
Physicians cannot visit many patients at one and the same time, who live far and remote from each other.   Christ can visit thousands, yea, millions of thousands, if he please, and speak to them all at one and the same moment, though they live thousands of miles asunder.
Physicians are subject to the like disease with their patients. Christ was made like unto us in all other things, but not in this; he was without sin, Hebrews 2:17; though he bore our sickness, he had none of his own, Isaiah 53. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21.
The best medicines earthly Physicians use, are compounded of earthly and corruptible ingredients, and lose their virtue by keeping long.   The medicines Christ uses are heavenly; his Word and Spirit abide forever, 1 Peter 1:25; they never lose, nor can lose their virtue, but have the like efficacy they had five thousand years ago.
Physicians attend the rich chiefly, few of them mind to visit the poor.   Christ takes more care of the poor than of the rich, he had rather attend upon the poor; such his bowels yearn unto, and helps out of pity, as he did the woman that had the bloody-flux for twelve years, when all her money was gone.
Physicians provide not hospitals, nor other accommodations, as food, nurses, and other attendants, for their patients, at their own charge.   Christ is at all the charge with poor sinners; he is like the good Samaritan, sets the poor soul on his own beast, brings him to his own inn or hospital, which was his Church, and gives money to the host to provide all things necessary for him, with a promise he would discharge the whole score at last, Luke 10:33-35.
A Physician may die himself, and leave his patient uncured.   Christ dies no more, death hath no more power over him, so that he lives to see every cure perfected that he takes in hand, Romans 6:9.

COLLARIES

  1. This shows us the weak and distempered state of mankind by reason of sin, that sin wounds and brings sickness upon the soul; every sin a disease. But because this is handled under its proper head, we shall not enlarge upon it here.    
  2. Moreover, we may from hence perceive the great care, love, and goodness of God towards miserable and impotent sinners, that rather than they should die of their sickness, he would send them his own dear son to be their Physician.
  3. It shows all the great grace and condescension of Christ, to undertake the cure of such miserable souls at such a dear and chargeable rate, with his own blood.
  4. This shows where help for sin-sick souls is to be had, and to whom they should go when they are sick.
  5. The reason why men perish in their sins, we may infer from hence, is, because they come not to Christ, the only Physician of the soul, John 5:40.
  6. And if Christ be such a Physician as you have heard, be encouraged then, poor, polluted sinners, to come to Christ. For motives, consider,
    1. Thou art sick; who is without sin, and so consequently without soul-diseases?              
    2. Thou are sick of a dangerous distemper, it will procure death without a speedy cure.
    3. There is no other Physician but Christ, neither is salvation in any other: “for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4:12.
    4. Christ is a Physician ready upon every invitation; nay, he comes without sending for, is now knocking at the door, Revelation 3:20.
    5. He will make an absolute and perfect cure of it, if he undertakes the work, before he leaves thee.
    6. Besides, thou mayest have him though thou hast no money, no righteousness, nothing to bring or offer to him as a spiritual present, Isaiah 55:1-2.
    7. Christ cures all that come to him, whatsoever the distemper be, he hath an universal medicine, with which he infallibly cures all sicknesses, diseases, and wounds of the soul. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him,” Hebrews 7:25. How many thousands, and ten thousands hath he cured, which are now in heaven, who once were sick of the same diseases that thou art afflicted with? Pride, passion, unbelief, blasphemous thoughts, etc.
  7. If Christ be such a Physician as you have heard, how inexcusable will all vile and willful sinners be found, that perish in their blood, and refuse to come to him?

CAUTIONS

  1. Take heed you do not delay seeking out for help. Some, when they are sick, never mind going to a Physician, until nature is decayed, and the disease has seized on them in such sort, that it is too late, there is no help; so do some sinners: did not Jerusalem do thus?  
  2. Take heed you make use of no other Physician. There are many that boast of their skill, how good they are at curing souls; beware of them, they privily bring in damnable errors, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction, 2 Peter 2:1. These are like deceitful quacks, and imposters, that design to make merchandise of you. Remember, their medicines are poisonous and destructive.
  3. Value not women’s advice too high. Eve lost her skill in the garden, and learned little afterwards. The Apocalyptical woman of Rome, like many old wives, would fain be tampering with the sick; but above all take heed of her, for she (like the adulterous woman Solomon speaks of) hath “cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death,” Proverbs 7:26-27.
  4. Take heed you rob not Christ of his honour which is due to him as a Physician; which may be done two ways.
    1. When we attribute the cure to our own industry, to skill and power of our own, or to duties.    
    2. When we attribute our help and cure to instruments or to ministers.
  5. If thou are made whole by Christ, take heed of a relapse. “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee,” John 5:14.

But for comfort: If by the power of temptation thou hast fallen and backslidden from God, he can heal thee again. “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely,” Hosea 14:4. “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” 1 John 2:1-2.

Benjamin Keech

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 16:1

The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.