Matthew 8-9 The significance of Jesus’ healing ministry
I just moved with my family a week ago to a very cold, eastern European city. My head has been stopped up ever since I got here. You know that sensation of feeling like your head is floating about a foot above your shoulders? Needless to say, suffering with this head cold while going through jet-lag and culture shock all at once gave me an appreciation for the good news in Matthew 8-9 that Jesus heals.
It really is startling how important Jesus’ healing ministry figures in to the gospel accounts. These two chapters alone recount four specific healings, two specific deliverances from demons, one raising from the dead, and the general statement that Jesus “cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.”
What good news for those who are struggling with sickness. I know that seeing this truth gave me confidence and faith to lay my need before the Lord Jesus and ask him to give me the health and strength that I need to adjust to my new living situation, take care of my family, begin my language studies and serve those around me in whatever way he has prepared.
But receiving physical healing alone fails to plumb the depths of all that is being revealed here about Jesus. The reason the gospels emphasize the healing ministry of Jesus is not just that he is a source of health and well-being for this life, although he definitely is that, and it is not wrong to come to him with our physical needs as I did this morning.
Sickness and death and bondage to demonic powers are all the glaring evidence that mankind in his sin and rebellion against God is under God’s curse. When Jesus comes on the scene in the gospels, healing all and delivering from demons and even raising the dead, God is displaying the truth that Jesus is the one who is going to remove that curse from the new humanity that God will bring into being. This is why the gospels emphasize repeatedly that “all who came to him were healed.” The redemption that Jesus brings is total and complete.
Matthew explains the healings in these chapters with a quotation from Isaiah 53. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” If sickness and death are the curse of God upon sin, and they are (see Genesis 2:17), then by bearing our sicknesses and diseases, Jesus bears our curse. His healing ministry then is a pointer to the fact that he is the Redeemer who lifts the curse and brings life in place of death.
Every time we receive a physical healing in this life from the Lord Jesus, it is a specific pointer, or as John would say a “sign” of the deeper and more significant foundational truth that Jesus has redeemed us from sin’s curse.
I am so glad that I can come to Jesus and ask for physical healing, knowing that he is my Redeemer and regardless of how he chooses to answer my prayer, whether I receive the “pointer” or “sign” of physical healing or not, I can know that by his death and resurrection he has lifted the curse from me and given me eternal life.