[Taken from a work I am working on “The Cross: Why Jesus Had To Die, Everlasting Provisions of Grace“]
I must admit, I didn’t expect to read Isaiah say, “he himself bore our sicknesses; we are healed by his wounds.” (Isaiah 53:4-5) and if we want to equate this only with spiritual healing, i.e. salvation and not physical healing, we need to explain Matthew:
“When evening came, … He healed all who were sick, so that what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: He himself took our weaknesses and carried our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16-17
He was referencing the verses above. But I remain a bit perplexed for a few reasons:
- Peter seemed to be thinking about spiritual healing “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) [Interestingly, Peter switches persons from “we” to “You.”]
- Calvary’s spiritual provisions are otherwise universal and immediate. The Cross represents the vehicle by which God provided forgiveness for sins and the opportunity by faith for us to to be reconciled to God. “we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10)
- When we seek salvation, He saves us. “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
- But is this true of physical healing? Are believers in need of a physical touch from the Master but they fail to reach out and grab hold of the hem of His garment? Is physical healing available for the taking (in seeking the Lord for it) as is true of salvation? And if not, why not.
- Faith is Faith. Is it appropriate to think of faith for salvation but not for healing? Would the Lord give us faith to trust Him for the one and not the other. Could we ever say God can be trusted to save but not heal?
There might be reasons why physical healing is not more apparent in the church in so-called civilized countries.
- Perhaps, we lack a certain “faith” to trust God for healing being dependent more so on science or the medical professionals. “He was not able to do a miracle there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.” (Mark 6:5-6a)
- Perhaps, we are not serious about wanting a healing. “Do you want to get well? “ John 5:6
- Perhaps, the complexity of life in which the spiritual and physical inseparably intertwine, healing is never a simple matter of physical well-being. “The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” (James 5:15)
- Perhaps, we need to ask again, “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?” (Matthew 9:5) Our Lord’s interest is always the spiritual. Does He utilize physical healing for spiritual growth?
“Therefore, … a thorn in the flesh was given to me, … to torment me so that I would not exalt myself.” For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)
There is also something noteworthy about the language. Isaiah used an interesting form for the word “healed” in Isaiah 53:5. Scholars translate this as if it were a gerund. Perhaps a better translation might be “with His stripes healing is provided to us.” What is different is that this form is not used elsewhere in this chapter. Physical healing is a provision of Calvary but it is viewed in a different light. If we appeal to the Greek Septuagint or to Peter for clarity, both use a form indicating complete healing. Isaiah agrees with this interpretation. God never leaves anything half done.