Part of the curse that Jesus bore for us has to do with mental and physical sickness. Since He bore these things in His body, physical healing has been obtained for us. The fact that “we were healed” is always in the past tense. It has already happened.
It’s good to be with you again as we continue to explore together all the treasures contained in our special theme for this Easter Season: Identification.
In previous talks I’ve explained that when Jesus died on the cross there was a two way identification. First of all, Jesus was identified with us, the human race, in all our sin. He paid the final penalty of death for our sin. But through his death, he opened up the way for the other aspect of identification, our identification with him. He made it possible for us, through faith, to be identified with him in all that followed his death; in burial first of all, then in resurrection, and even in ascension to the throne of God.
Now we’ve been studying together various aspects of this exchange. I’ve explained that when Jesus died and hung on the cross, he was made a curse and all the evil that was due to us came upon him that we in turn might receive all the good, all the blessings that were eternally due to him. I’ve explained this exchange from curse to blessing in the words of Paul, Galatians, chapter 3, verses 13 and 14. I’ll just read them again:
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’” (NIV)
That’s a quotation from the law, from the Book of Deuteronomy, that when Jesus hung on the cross, it was the outward and visible evidence to everyone who knew the law that he had been made a curse on our behalf. Then Paul continues in verse 14:
“He [that’s Christ] redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” (NIV)
I want to make that very clear once more. Jesus took all the curses of the broken law upon himself that we in return might receive all the blessings due for obedience to the Lord. And in my talk yesterday, I summed up all the curses which are listed in Deuteronomy, chapter 28 and this was the summation that I gave and I’ll repeat it again today because it’s very important that we’re clear in our minds as to what constitutes a curse and what constitutes a blessing. This is the summation of the curses: humiliation, mental and physical sickness, family breakdown, poverty, defeat, oppression, failure, God’s disfavor. It’s so important, I’m going to read that list again. Think about it. Ponder on it as you hear it and ask yourself, do I experience those things, any of them in my life? If so, could it be that I’m still enduring a curse when, if I’m a believer in Jesus Christ and his atoning death, I should be enjoying a blessing. Here’s the list: humiliation, mental and physical sickness, family breakdown, poverty, defeat, oppression, failure, and God’s disfavor.
If you ponder on that list, even more so if you read the 28th Chapter of Deuteronomy on which it’s based, you’ll find that one major element in the curses is mental and physical sickness. I’ll develop this a little further by reading some passages from Deuteronomy 28 where the curses are specified and many times in great detail. Beginning in Deuteronomy 28, verses 21 and 22:
“The Lord will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess. The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish.” (NIV)
Notice that it specifies there diseases in general, and then particularly, wasting disease, fever and inflammation. Then in verses 27 and 28:
“The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of the mind.” (NIV)
Just pick out the significant words there, all part of the curse, boils, tumors, festering sores and the itch, madness, blindness, and confusion of the mind. All those are part of the curse. Then on in verse 35:
“The Lord will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head.” (NIV)
All that’s part of the curse: skin diseases. Deuteronomy 28, verses 59 through 61, still listing the curses:
“The Lord will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illness. He will bring upon you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you. The Lord will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this book of the law until you are destroyed.” (NIV)
Notice again the items listed there: severe and lingering illness and then all the diseases of Egypt, and I’ve lived in Egypt. I’ve spent more than three years of my life in Egypt. Believe me, there are few diseases that are not experienced in Egypt, and it says, all the diseases of Egypt. And then it goes on to say, if there should be any diseases not included in that:
“The Lord will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law.” (NIV)
In other words, every kind of sickness, disease is part of the curse. Logically, therefore, and the Bible is the most logical book I have ever read and I used to be a professor of logic, logically, therefore, if Jesus bore the curse for us, then he bore our sicknesses, both mental and physical, and sure enough, that’s exactly what the Bible declares.
We look first of all in Isaiah 53, verses 4 and 5. Again, this is the prophetic preview of the sufferings of Jesus on the cross:
“Surely he [that’s Jesus] took our infirmities and carried our sorrows [but the more literal translation is pains]. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our pains, 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.” (NIV)
Notice there it speaks of infirmities and pain. We need to know that infirmities are what we might call congenital weaknesses like many people have a hereditary tendency to diabetes or to arthritis. That would be an infirmity. A sickness would be the specific condition that we are exposed to through the infirmity. Jesus took our infirmities, our sicknesses, and our pains. He made complete provision.
If you look there, in that passage in Isaiah 53, you’ll see there are three words that describe the spiritual, three words that describe the physical: transgressions and iniquities and then peace, that’s spiritual. Because Jesus was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities, he offers us peace.
Then there are three physical words: infirmities, pains, and healing. Because Jesus took our physical infirmities, bore our physical pains, therefore he offers us physical healing.
All that I’ve said about the death of Jesus and his provision of healing, which I quoted from the Old Testament, from Isaiah, chapter 53, is fully confirmed in the New Testament. The two records are absolutely harmonious.
We look, first of all, in Matthew 8:16 and 17, speaking about the earthly ministry of Jesus:
“When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.” (NIV)
Notice there’s deliverance from physical infirmity and sickness, also from mental and emotional conditions caused by evil spirits. Jesus dealt with all of them. There was nothing he could not handle. And then, the inspired commentary of Matthew goes on:
“This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He [Jesus] took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.’” (NIV)
So, Jesus’ coming in fulfillment of the prophesies of the Scripture for the Messiah, the deliverer, fulfilled all that was written in Isaiah 53 including this aspect of physical deliverance: He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.
And again, in 1st Peter, chapter 2, verse 24, the Apostle Peter again refers back to Isaiah 53, verses 4 and 5, the passage that we read earlier, and he applies it to Jesus and he makes this clear, plain statement of what Jesus accomplished in the physical realm on our behalf. 1st Peter, chapter 2, verse 24:
“He himself [that’s Jesus] bore our sins in his own body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (NIV)
Notice he bore the spiritual, the sins, but he also bore the physical. By his wounds you have been healed. Jesus endured the physical wounding of his body that he might be able to offer us physical healing for our bodies and it’s significant, I think, that Peter places that in the perfect tense. It’s a finished fact, by his wounds you have been healed. The wounds of Jesus have already obtained for us the right to physical healing. That word that Peter uses in Greek in the New Testament is directly related to the Greek word for a doctor. It still is today. It specifically means physical healing. By the physical wounds of Jesus, physical healing has been obtained for you and me.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow. I’ll be sharing with you another aspect of the divine exchange, from poverty to prosperity.