The Healing Ministry of Our Lord

by Spiros Zodhiates

Spiros Zodhiates(Editor's note: Dr. Zodhiates continues his exegetical study of the Gospel of Matthew.)

[Verse 14] Peter's mother-in-law was in Peter's house, having been "laid down" (from bllo  [906], to place, in contrast to rhpto  [4496]; Matt. 9:36; 15:30; 27:5; Luke 4:35; 17:2; Acts 22:23; 27:19, 29, meaning to cast down). Although her precise sickness is not given, we read that she was "fevered" (a.t.; from purésso  [4445], burning with fever [purets {4446} from pr {4442}, fire, heat]). No attribution of evil or sin is given for this fever that had come on her.

[15] The Lord "touched" (from hptomai [681], to touch in order to heal, affect beneficently) Peter's mother-in-law. Immediately, the fever "left" (from aphe mi [863], to leave), and "she arose" (from egero  [1453], to rise, to raise).

God is free to heal with or without medical procedures and drugs. Moreover, the Lord Jesus' healing touch produces far more than just physical restoration. Therefore, if we become ill, we are told to seek the Lord first, then the physicians (2 Chron. 16:12). But God's answer is not always "yes." It may be "no," "later," or "something better." The Apostle Paul referred to God's will as a mystery (musté rion [3466]; Eph. 1:9). If we do not know God's will in any particular crisis, we should follow the Lord Jesus in full submission: "I seek not My own will [théle ma {2307} from thélo  {2309}, to determine; and -ma, the final product] but the will of the Father who sent Me" (John 5:30; a.t.).

The verb "ministered" (from diakonéo  [1247]) means that Peter's mother-in-law was able to return to the household tasks she was doing before.

[16] The evening brought an end to the Sabbath, and again the multitudes brought many sick people to Jesus. Some He "healed" (from therapeo  [2323], to heal with tenderness), and from others He cast out demons. The phrase translated "all that were sick" is literally "all [from ps {3956}] the ones having [it] badly [kak s {2560}, a broad term-the opposite of kals {2570}, good-blanketing every sickness and disease] were healed." No sick persons returned home as they came-believers or unbelievers.

[17] Immediately after this, Matthew quotes the prophecy of Isaiah 53:4 that speaks of the suffering Messiah taking on Himself our infirmities and sicknesses: "That it might be fulfilled [from ple ro  {4137}] which was spoken by [di {1223}, through, implying agency; i.e., Isaiah was not the origin of the Word of God] Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself [auts {846}, the emphatic pronoun] took [from lambno  {2983}, to receive] our infirmities [from asthéneia {769}, weakness, and bare [from bastzo  {941}] our sicknesses [from nsos {3554}, disease].

The active voice of "took" and "bare" implies a voluntary action. The latter verb means to lift up and carry. Jesus bore the penalties of weakness and sickness for us, which God imposes because of sin. This does not mean that we believers are exempt from suffering in this life. Though saved by grace, we "groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:23)-which lies in the future. Paul assured us that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18).

Jesus has been "separated [from cho rzo  {5563}] from sinners" (Heb. 7:26 nasb) and did not sin (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; see the author's Sickness Why-Healing How?), but He did take on Himself sin and its consequences, which include weakness, sickness (see above), and also death. He did not die of natural causes, but he voluntarily shed His blood (Heb. 9:22) for the sins of the world.

Peter cited Isaiah 53:5 in 1 Peter 2:24: "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed [from iomai {2390} a verb consistently used in the NT for physical healing]." But this does not mean that Jesus caught our colds or cancers any more than the sacrificial lamb did under the Levitical system of sacrifice. "To bear" the weight of a sickness does not mean "to get" the sickness, which is more like "collapsing under" than "bearing up under." Furthermore, to bear "our" sicknesses was not to bear His own. Ultimately, Christ bore the full consequence of our sins to redeem us from sin's penalty and power.

Although the verb s zo  (4982) means to save spiritually and immediately from sin and its power, a delayed liberation of our bodies awaits the resurrection (see Rom. 8:23 above). Even though Christ is in us, Paul stated that "the body is dead because of sin" (Rom. 8:10). But he assured us that the Spirit of the Father "will also give life to [our] mortal bodies" (Rom. 8:11 nasb) to conform to our new spirits/souls (2 Cor. 5:17). In qualitatively new (from kains [2537]; Rev. 21:5) bodies, we will be free from every weakness and disease forever.

Although it is true that physical healing is in the atonement in principal-"by whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Pet. 2:24)-God chooses when to apply this healing to our physical bodies. Physical death is the "last enemy" (1 Cor. 15:26) to be abrogated, and for believers this occurs at the rapture of the church (1 Thess. 4:16, 17).

Dr. Zodhiates is president emeritus of AMG International and publisher emeritus of Pulpit Helps.

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