I am beginning to think again about the events that lead up to the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus as this coming Sunday is Palm Sunday. To be perfectly honest, I am saddened that we will not be able to have our typical Maundy Thursday evening together as a church due to the social distancing we are maintaining; but I am not going to let that dampen my wonder and amazement at the great things that God has done to bring about my reconcilliation with himself! I am praying that the Lord will help you maintain the same kind of awe!
So, as a part of my devotional reading today I was reading from John Piper’s little booklet, “Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die”, and reason number 18 was: To Heal Us from Moral and Physical Sickness. Those are timely thoughts for us as we face the Covid virus, aren’t they? He opened the chapter with the fact that Jesus suffered and died so that disease would one day be utterly destroyed. Doctor Piper referenced Matthew 8:16-17 as he opened his article. Let me take you with me into that account of Jesus’ healing ministry.
14 And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”
Jesus arrived in Peter’s house and found that Peter’s mother-in-law had a fever. (Evidently, Peter had kindly taken in his mother-in-law, who was apparently a widow.) Jesus did not wait for anyone to ask for help. He touched her hand, the fever left, and she rose and served them (8:14–15). It is a sweet little picture of discipleship. Young or old, male or female: When Jesus touches us and raises us, we rise and serve him. That night, Matthew reports, the healing continued. Jesus cast out demons with a word and healed everyone who was sick (8:16). The cures were simple and complete. There are reports of other healers who operated during this era, but their methods were quite different, attempting exorcism or using potions and incantations.
Jesus’ methodology was entirely different, and for a specific purpose. He healed by his powerful word. He healed all who came to him (though he performed fewer miracles at times; Mark 6:5–6). He never tried and hoped for the best. He fulfilled all his purposes. That is why the people flocked to him.
Still, Jesus never intended to heal every sick person in Israel. Indeed, during this very season, Luke says Jesus once walked away from a crowd that sought healing and explained, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent” (Luke 4:43).
But both Jesus and Matthew want us to see that miracles point beyond themselves. Matthew therefore says Jesus “healed all the sick … to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases’ ” (Matt. 8:16–17; Isa. 53:4).
This is what makes me sit in open mouthed awe of my Father’s love for us in sending His Son to bear my sin on the cursed tree as Galatians 3:13 says: 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for
us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. Isaiah and Matthew point to the larger reason that Jesus did the miracles and the healing that He did… it was to point you and me toward the truth that “When Christ came into the world, he was on a mission to accomplish global redemption. He signaled his purpose by healing many people in his lifetime… This was a preview of what was coming at the end of history when “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Matthew wants us to see the concepts of grief and disease almost interchangeably. We may not think that way, but the Bible says grief and sickness are related, directly or indirectly, to sin. Sin, grief, and sickness are a complex; God would deliver us from all three.
Some disease is directly related to sin. For example, alcoholics suffer cirrhosis of the liver. Yet most illness is indirectly caused by sin. Congenital diseases are ordinarily a result of the fall and the curse; only in rare occasions do they directly result from the sins of the parents. If Adam and Eve had never sinned, there would be no disease or death.
Likewise, some sorrows are directly caused by sin. Habitual liars find that no one believes them. When they say they repent of their lies, no one believes that either, even if they have truly repented. Liars bring that sorrow on themselves. But many sorrows are indirect results of sin—the sins of others. For example, the people of all totalitarian regimes suffer indirectly, due to the sins of their leaders.
Sadly, almost everyone suffers grief this way. The sin of a teacher, a boss, a political leader, or a relative causes us sorrow. We suffer when a friend or even a spouse betrays or abandons us.
The Bible stresses that Jesus bears our sins. It also says he bore our griefs and diseases because they are all connected. Sin is the root of all grief, disease, and brokenness. Therefore, when Jesus bore our sin, he granted us complete healing, in principle. The way Christ defeated death and disease was by taking them on Himself and carrying them with him to the grave. God’s judgment on the sin that brought disease was endured by Jesus when He suffered and died. The horrible flogging of our Savior Jesus bought a world to come without disease.
One day all disease, Covid 19 and all, will be banished from God’s redeemed creation. There will be a new earth. We will have new bodies. Death will be swallowed up by everlasting life. All who love Christ will sing songs of thanksgiving to the Lamb who was slain to redeem us from sin and death and disease.
Love Pastor Richard Burguet
Piper, John (2006) Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die.
Doriani, D. M. (2008). Matthew & 2. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (Vol. 1, p. 337). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 8:14–17). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.