No More Sickness?

Jesus healed all whom He touched for that purpose, and Matthew connects this with the famous prophetic passage in Isaiah in which the coming Servant “bore the sin of many” (Isaiah 53:12; see also 53:5-6). Does that mean that the atoning work of Christ on the Cross not only brings full and instant forgiveness to all who trust in Jesus, but also ensures complete and immediate healing for all who pray in faith? After all Peter writes, referring to the same prophecy in Isaiah, that by His “stripes [wounds] we are healed” (1 Peter 2:24). And the Psalmist declares that Yahweh “heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:3). This view faces two major problems, however. First, most of the people who ask in full faith for healing go away as ill as they were before. Despite many inflated claims by televangelists and itinerant “health and wealth” preachers that we can simply “name it [whatever it is we want from God] and claim it,” the fact is that this assertion lacks evidence. On the contrary, the experience of Christians throughout the ages, including our own time, testifies to the continuing presence of sickness, even for those with the strongest faith. Second, Paul, who certainly had the apostolic gift of healing, wrote, “Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick” (2 Timothy 4:20). Furthermore, he taught explicitly that “the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also …groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body,” because of the “sufferings of this present time” (Romans 8:22-23, 18). And Peter precedes “by whose stripes you were healed” with the explanation that Christ died for us so that “we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness,” and follows it with, “For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:25). We must await the resurrection of our bodies for full healing of all disease. Meanwhile, we rejoice that the Shepherd of our souls has freed us from the penalty and power of sin, the ultimate root of all illness and of death itself.