To Heal Us from Moral and Physical Sickness
This article is part of an extended series.
Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. – Isaiah 53:5
[He] healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” – Matthew 8:16-17
Christ suffered and died so that disease would one day be utterly destroyed. Disease and death were not part of God’s original way with the world. They came in with sin as part of God’s judgment on creation. The Bible says, “The creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope” (Romans 8:20). God subjected the world to the futility of physical pain to show the horror of moral evil.
This futility included death. “Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin” (Romans 5:12). It included all the groaning of disease. And Christians are not excluded: “Not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit [that is, those who trust Christ], groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23).
But all this misery of disease is temporary. We look forward to a time when bodily pain will be no more. The subjection of creation to futility was not permanent. From the very beginning of his judgment, the Bible says God aimed at hope. His final purpose was this: “that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage and decay and obtain the freedom of glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).
When Christ came into the world, he was on a mission to accomplish this global redemption. He signaled his purposes by healing many people during his lifetime. There were occasions when crowds gathered and he “healed all who were sick” (Matthew 8:16; Luke 6:19). This was a preview of what was coming at the end of history 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” (Revelation 21:4).
The way Christ defeated death and disease was by taking them on himself and carrying them with him to the grave. God’s judgment on the sin that brought disease was endured by Jesus when he suffered and died. The prophet Isaiah explained the death of Christ with these words: “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). The horrible blows to the back of Jesus bought a world without disease.
One day all disease will be banished from God’s redeemed creation. There will be a new earth. We will have new bodies. Death will be swallowed up by everlasting life (1 Corinthians 15:54; 2 Corinthians 5:4). “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like an ox” (Isaiah 65:25). And all who love Christ will sing songs of thanks to the Lamb who was slain to redeem us from sin and death and disease.
John Piper, “The Passion of Jesus Christ: Fifty Reasons Why He Came to Die” (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2004) Reason #18. Used by Permission.