|By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2007|
|Continuing in Matthew 8, we see more examples of Jesus as the Healer. According to Isaiah, these healing miracles were part of His credentials as the Messiah.|
According to Mark 1:29 at least four disciples were in Peter’s house when this healing occurred: "And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John." Luke, the physician adds, in Luke 4:38 "And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever." The words "taken with," literally mean "oppressed with (sunechomene) a great fever."
Mark and Luke both remark that the fever left her "immediately" and this is certainly inferred in Matthew, since she was able to arise and minister, in the preparation of a meal, no doubt. Peter’s wife probably helped as well. We know from I Corinthians 9:5 that Peter’s wife was still living in the days of Paul’s ministry, for he says, "Have we no right to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as the other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?" (Peter), so she must have been present when her mother was taken with this great fever, and she witnessed the power of Christ, proving Himself to be the Messiah. In the very next paragraph, He expands this evidence.
If all three miracles of healing, leprosy, paralysis and fever were accomplished on the same day as the preaching of the Sermon on the Mount, then, that same evening, as they finished dining at Peter’s house, then "all the city (of Capernaum) was gathered together at the door" (Mark 1:33), seeking healing for their sick and demon possessed. Since there is an extended passage concerning demonism in 8:28-34, it will be discussed at that point. Here, the emphasis concerns the fulfillment of prophecy.
Since Christ was presenting His credentials as their Messiah/King, it had to include fulfillment of Scripture in performing miracles. The Holy Spirit carefully led Matthew to record only that part of Isaiah 53:4 which would really apply to Christ’s ministry of miracle working; the latter part of the verse, Isaiah 53:4b does refer to His death on the Cross. Note how Isaiah 53:1-3 clearly parallels the ministry and rejection of Christ. When he comes to the first part of Isaiah 53:4, he says prophetically, "surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows," which Matthew interprets as "our infirmities and sicknesses." This means that, in His healing ministry before the Cross, Christ fulfilled Isaiah 53:4a. Only after this does Isaiah 53:4b say, "Yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." In spite of His fulfilling messianic prophecy concerning miracles, the Jews rejected Him and desired His crucifixion!
This takes away any claim that healing is in the Atonement. Someone might insist that Isaiah 53:5b can be used to prove such a doctrine, since Isaiah 53:5 speaks of His being "wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities," and then states, "and with his stripes we are healed." Yet, even here, certain things argue against healing in the Atonement. The same Hebrew word "healed" (rapha) is used in Psalm 41:4, "I said, LORD, be merciful unto me and heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee," and in Psalm 147:3, "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds."
But even more than these, is the New Testament usage of Isaiah 53:5 in I Peter 2:24-25 to refer to sins, not sicknesses: "Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray, but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." Further, if healing were in the Atonement, then why did Christ give the Apostles gifts of healing in Matthew 10? Why not preach the Atonement which would include healing? No, these miracles were given to show that Jesus is the Messiah/King, and later, that the Apostles were His true messengers, preaching the same message, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 10:7). My friend, in the fulness of time His Kingdom will come, and for those who have rejected Him it will be too late!