AN EXPOSITION OF MATTEW 8:16-17
16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
The Jewish Sabbath officially ended when two stars could be seen in the sky in the evening. When the Sabbath ended, individuals were free to seek medical attention without having physicians being accused of working. and therefore violating the Sabbath.
A distinction is made between those who were demon possessed with evil spirits, and those who were sick from some organic source. Not everyone who is sick is possessed by an evil spirit, and should not be treated as if they were.
The way Jesus healed is “with his word.” The word of God contains omnipotent power. The Lord speaks, and what He commands is done. Care must be taken by Christians not to arrogate unto themselves the divine prerogative of healing individuals by divine fiat. To do so is presumptuous. In fact, it is blasphemy.
The healing of the demon possessed, and the healing of those who were sick did not depend upon any expression of their faith. The healing miracles which Jesus performed depended upon His own mercy, grace, and discretion. Those who brought individuals to Jesus for healing are to be commended, for Christ is the healing Messiah,
Christians are not to command the Lord, but are to be brought to Him to see what He will do. Sometimes, God will heal all that are sick. Sometimes, the Lord will say, “My grace is sufficient.” The Lord is under no obligation to heal anyone. He is not to be commanded to display His power, though there can be powerful pleading with Him to show Himself mighty.
17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
Having noted that Jesus healed many, Matthew adds a commentary under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Matthew declares that the prophesy of Isaiah was being fulfilled (Isaiah 53:2-12).
One of the signs by which the Messiah was to be recognized, was His ability to perform miracles. The prophet Isaiah said, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4).
Based on the words of Isaiah, the question arises as to whether or not physical healing is to be traced to the atonement. Isaiah said, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). “Can physical healing be claimed for the body today because of Calvary?”
The answer to this question is both, “Yes,” and “No.” It is true that the death of Christ brings spiritual healing to every soul oppressed by sin. It is true that every soul which believes in Christ receives eternal life, and the promise of a resurrected body. It is also true that in time, the Lord is pleased to heal people, and is free to show mercy and grace because of the redemptive work of Christ at Calvary. But, it is also true that, until the final day of human history, it is appointed unto men once to die, which means that all people will one day succumb to sickness and die. Billy Graham lived a long and fruitful life. He died at the age of 99. Other faithful servants of God lived life with much pain and suffering and died much younger. George Whitefield died at age 56. Jonathan Edwards was 54. Charles H. Spurgeon was 57 when he died, for “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27).
A word should be said about Divine Healers. It is not unusual for a modern day minister to quote this passage, and apply it to themselves as if the prophesy of Isaiah 53 was being fulfilled afresh through them, in the name of Jesus. It is a presumptuous arrogation to themselves prophesy and the power of Jesus. It is wrong for them to do this. Furthermore, Divine Healers argue that there is healing in the atonement of Christ, and that healing can be appropriated now.
Orthodox Christianity has always taught that Jesus Christ bore our sins, and He also bore the effects of our sin. It is right to say that Jesus Christ bore our sin, and that He bore its effect. Jesus died for the sin of unbelief. He died for all the issues that flow from that unbelief. Unbelief is the root of all rebellion. Unbelief brings every person under Divine condemnation. Sin brings guilt before God. The effects of sin bring sickness, and death. The Lord Jesus died for our sin, condemnation, and the effects of sin.
One day every believer shall be delivered from the ravaging effects of sin, including death. One day there will be the resurrection of the body. “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:22-23). Right now, believers wait for the redemption of our body. It is something for the future.
Still, Divine Healers insist that we can at least have an earnest, or down payment of health. They quote Romans 8:11 in support of this belief. “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” What is overlooked is the future tense of the promise of this verse. The Spirit shall also quicken, or make alive, your mortal bodies. The reference is to the future.
Now it is true that God heals in the present age. God works miracles. People can bring their sorrows and sicknesses to Jesus, and ask for healing. Sometimes the Lord is pleased to heal. But, if sickness continues, the Word of God stands true. If people want to be healed today, let them not go to Divine Healers, but directly to the Lord in personal prayer.
If people want to be healed today, let them obey the Biblical prescription to call for the Elders of the church. “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him” (James 5:14-15). This promise is given within the will of God. If it is not God’s will to heal, then the Christian submits to the sovereign.
The conclusion of the matter, is that it is wrong for Divine Healers to call individuals to come to them. The Lord would have people come to Him, and to appropriate the means of grace by having the Elders pray. Going to doctors is not forbidden, but first people are to seek the Lord.