Sin and Sickness
“He healed all that were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying: Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:16-17).
In a preceding chapter we have studied the words of the prophet Isaiah. If the reader has still any doubt as to the interpretation of it which has been given, we remind him of that which the Holy Spirit caused the evangelist St. Matthew to write about it. It is expressly said regarding all the sick ones whom Jesus healed, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet.” It was because Jesus had taken on Him our sicknesses that He could, that He ought to heal them. If He had not done so, one part of His work of redemption would have remained powerless and fruitless.
This text of the Word of God is not generally understood in this way. It is the generally accepted view that the miraculous healings done by the Lord Jesus are to be looked upon only as the proof of His mercy, or as being the symbol of spiritual graces. They are not seen to be a necessary consequence of redemption, although that is what the Bible declares. The body and the soul have been created to serve together as a habitation of God; the sickly condition of the body is [in general], as well as that of the soul, a consequence of sin, and that is what Jesus came to bear, to expiate and to conquer.
When the Lord Jesus was on earth, it was not in the character of the Son of God that He cured the sick, but as the Mediator who had taken upon Him and borne sickness, and this enables us to understand why Jesus gave so much time to His healing work, and why also the evangelists speak of it in a manner so detailed. Read for example what Matthew says about it:
Matthew 4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. 4:24 And His fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them. Matthew 9:35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. Matthew 10:1 And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
When the disciples of John the Baptist came to ask Jesus if He were the Messiah, that He might prove it to them, He replied, “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them” (11:5). After the cure of the withered hand, and the opposition of the Pharisees who sought to destroy Him, we read that “great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all” (12:15). When later, the multitude had followed Him into a desert place, it is said, “And Jesus went forth and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick” (14:14). Farther on: “They sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto Him all that were diseased; and besought Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment; and as many as touched were made perfectly whole” (14: 35-36). It is said also of the sick which were among the multitudes that they “cast them down at Jesus feet and He healed them,” and Matthew adds: “insomuch that the multitude wondered when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see; and they glorified the God of Israel” (15:30-31). And finally, when He came into the coasts of Judea beyond Jordan, “Great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there” (19:2).
Let us add to these many texts those which give us in detail the account of healings wrought by Jesus, and let us ask ourselves if these healings afford us only the proof of His power during His life here on earth, or if they are not much rather the undoubted and continual result of His work of mercy and of love, the manifestation of His power of redemption which delivers the soul and body from the dominion of sin? Yes; that was in very deed the purpose of God. If, then, Jesus bore our sicknesses as an integral part of the redemption, if He has healed the sick “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias,” and if His Savior-heart is always full of mercy and of love, we can believe with certainty that to this very day it is the will of Jesus to heal the sick in answer to the prayer of faith.