"Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions,†he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray,†each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.†He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.†He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence,†nor was any deceit in his mouth.†Yet it was the LORDís will to crush him and cause him to suffer,†and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand"(Isaiah 53.4-10, NIV).
Not only did Jesus make healing central to his earthly ministry, but he is still healing through the church, the body of Christ. The church represents Jesus' real presence in the world. Jesus saw sickness as being evil and oppressiveó the work of Satan. In the book of Acts, Luke pens these words: "You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preachedóhow God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who was under the power of the devil, because God was with him" (Acts 10.37-38).
God views sickness as something evil, and empowered Jesus with His authority and power to deliver people from Satanís power to inflict people with sicknesses and diseases. This was Satanís tactic against Job, to destroy Jobís relationship with God. Satan has not changed. Satan uses sickness not only as a way to afflict people, but to oppress and to put them under his power and evil influence. I believe that Satan still uses this method of affliction, to turn people away from God, as he tried to do to Job.
Some people believe that God uses sickness to discipline or to teach people some lesson. If God is sending sickness and Jesus is healing the sickness, Godís kingdom is divided. If this is so, then, Jesus and God would be working against each other. Jesus said that he only does what he sees his Father doing; and that the Father and Son are one. Jesus never told any sick person that he had to check with his Father, to see if it was alright to heal a person. Jesus healed everyone who came to him for healing, because he knew that it was the will of his Father.
Jesus clearly understood that his mission as the Messiah of God was to rescue all who were oppressed of the devil. He came as the savior of the world. Jesus came to restore Godís good creationóGodís shalom. The prophet Isaiah clearly describes the mission of the suffering servant of God, as one who would redeem and restore Godís fallen creation. Jesusí death on the cross was to atone for human sin (Isaiah 53). This is why salvation cannot be narrowly defined. Salvation includes deliverance; healing, health, wholeness, and restoration (See Isaiah 61.) Healing is in the atonement.
Salvation is ultimate healingóGodís shalom. Jesus atoning death restored Godís good creationóGodís shalomópeace, health, wholeness, and salvation. This is why Jesus gave his disciples his power and authority to heal, as he had doneóto heal all who are oppressed of the devil.
The arrival of the promised Holy Spirit and the birth of the Christian church was a game changer. The Holy Spirit makes real the continuous presence and power of the resurrected Christ, in the life and ministry of the church. The Holy Spirit empowers the church, the body of Christ, to continue Jesusí threefold ministry of teaching, preaching, and healing in the church and world. Someone has said, ďTeaching explains the gospel, preaching proclaims the gospel, but healing makes real the gospel.Ē Healing is a sign of the presence of the kingdom of God.
The apostle James defines the church as a healing community. James instructs those who are sick to call on the elders of the church to be healed. James gives this instruction: "Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will [make the sick person well]; the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sin will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous is powerful and effective" (James 5.13-16, NRSV).
The atonement reveals an important biblical truth that is often overlooked. God has a ďvisionĒ for human wholeness. Godís redemptive plan reminds us that God desires that every person experiences wholeness in every dimension of life: spirit, body, mind (emotions), and relationships.
God is the healer whether healing comes by means of healing prayer, through the sacraments of anointing with oil and the laying on of hands, or by medical and scientific means. We donít have to pick and choose, because healing is in the atonement. God uses all means of grace to make us whole. Healing is a part of Godís redemptive work, and we are healed by the stripes of Jesusí sacrificial death on the cross.
Because of the atonement, we donít need to end our prayers for healing by attaching the phrase, ďIf it be thy will.Ē The atonement tells us that healing is Godís will. The fact that Jesus healed and that the Holy Spirit has gifted the church with gifts of healing tell us that healing is Godís will. However, what we are to leave to Godís will, is how healing happens, when healing happens, and to whom healing happens. God is the cure-giver and we are the care-givers.
Salvation is ultimate healing. Whether we are healed on this side of the grave, all those who have put their trust in Godís salvation will be eternally healed in the resurrection. Jesusí death on the cross, his resurrection, and ascension to heaven, defeated the power of sin, sickness, and death. Why? Healing is in the atonementóGodís redemptive grace.
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