To Heal Us
Many of the hymns we sing include glowing references to Jesus as a great healer who heals and delivers us from all our sicknesses and diseases. In fact all of the hymns we’re singing this evening include such references or would have done if Praise! had not omitted a significant verse from the hymn we’ve just sung. The words we didn’t sing are these:
When worn with sickness, oft hast Thou
with health renewed my face;
and when in sins and sorrows sunk,
revived my soul with grace.
What are we to make of such language especially when we are all too painfully aware that our lives are not ‘sickness-
Some of us may well have been offended by the antics of some of those who promote the health, wealth and prosperity gospel. Some of these have suggested that Christians have a right to perfect health in the here-
We recoil from such abusive behaviour and we are right to do so but we must be careful we don’t throw the baby out with the bath-
Well, that is our subject now as we continue our investigations into just why Jesus came to die. I hope by the end of our study we will realise just a little more about what Jesus achieved for us by means of his death upon the cross. His death was wonderfully effective and those effects are wide-
God’s Original Design
When we look out on the world we live in we are not looking out on the world as it was originally meant to be. The world in which we live is a fallen world. When Adam sinned he sullied God’s good, God’s very good, creation. We live in this messed up world.
Death and disease had no part in God’s perfect world but came in with sin as part of God’s judgment on creation. Life for men and women changed and not for the better. Physical work became hard, draining and demanding. The physical labour of childbirth became painful. Disease spread through the human race spoiling human lives which were then cut short by death.
But for all this God did not abandon the world he had made and he did not wash his hands of the people he had made in his image. Although suffering, sickness and death were allowed to come in these blemishes were, in God’s plan and purpose, never going to be permitted to have the last, the final word.
As early as Gen.3:15 God declared that a solution would be forthcoming, a solution that would be personal. Yes, the creation was in a mess but there was hope as the apostle Paul would later write:
This futility to which the creation was subjected included sickness, pain and death. It was designed to show just how awful the moral evil of human sin actually is. Death shows this most clearly:
Rom.5:12 "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned"
But sickness and frailty too are the unwanted consequences of sin and they cause us to groan. Christians too are included in the sufferings and sicknesses of this world. The gospel is not a message that offers a BUPA-
Rom.8:23 "And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."
But, and it’s a big but, there is a great and a better future to which to look forward.
Creation was subjected in hope. There is a redemption of our bodies in view. All the misery that flows from sickness and death will only last for a season.
How can we be sure?
Christ suffered and died so that disease would one day be completely destroyed!
Prophecy and Fulfilment
Isaiah prophesied a number of times concerning the Servant of the LORD – his best known and most detailed prophecy is probably the one contained in Is.53 where he wrote:
This passage was quoted by Peter in NT where in context the Servant in question is clearly identified as being the Lord Jesus Christ:
1Pet.2:24 "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed."
Similarly Matthew has referred to the same truths contained in Is.53 as providing an explanation of Jesus’ ministry:
We are used to thinking about Jesus’ coming as being to deal with the problem of our sin and we probably think less often about this aspect of his work in coming to deal with our moral and physical sickness. And yet this is part of the reason why he came to die.
Jesus mission was that of global redemption. He flagged this up as he performed his mighty works of power. His acts of healing served several purposes all at the same time and we should understand this.
His power exercised in healing demonstrated his loving compassion for those who were suffering
His mighty acts also served to confirm the truthfulness of what he declared
His healing miracles marked him as as someone very special indeed – the long promised Servant of the LORD, God’s Messiah
But having said that we have not yet said everything there is to say:
Jesus by his mighty works of miraculous healing gave us a glimpse of what life with him will be like when this world is no more. By means of his healing miracles Jesus gives us something of a preview of what will come at the end of history as we now know it 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." (Rev.21:4)
The gross mistake of the health, wealth and prosperity gospel is not that of overstating what Christ has secured for the believer by means of his death but rather in getting the time schedule wrong as to when such blessings will be fully enjoyed.
There are enough examples in the Bible of real Christians experiencing sickness in this life to make us wary of claims that perfect health is the Christian’s birth right in this world. (Just think of Timothy. Paul didn’t castigate him for his ‘lack of faith’ when he had repeated problems with his digestive system but recommended he drank some wine and not just water (1Tim.5:23)).But there is also sufficient teaching to encourage us to look forward to life in a new earth from which all sin and disease will be banished and where we will have new bodies which are no longer subject to death because death will have been swallowed up by everlasting life:
1Cor.15:54 "When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory.""
But how is this wonderful state to be brought about? How is death and disease defeated?
The way Jesus won his victory (and ours by virtue of our faith-
Praise God it is "with his stripes (that) we are healed". It was by the way of his horrible suffering in our place, supremely his suffering upon the cross, that Jesus bought a world without disease.
That world hasn’t yet come and so we await the new heavens and the new earth where righteousness dwells.
What a wonderful salvation is offered to us freely by his grace! Let’s not neglect this great salvation. Let us think more and more about it. Let us not limit it but try to understand something more of the richness of the blessings that are associated with it.
Yes, we may experience good health here at times. We may experience healing here at times. And all this is due to the graciousness of our God. But let us not forget that there is more, much more to come. There are greater blessings, richer blessings that Christ has secured for us and into which we will not fully enter in this life. Indeed now, at best, we only see as in a glass darkly or in a mirror dimly (1Cor.13:12).
1Cor.2:9 "But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"
To God be the glory.