The Healing Power of Jesus

14When Jesus came into Peterís house, He saw Peterís mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on Him.

16When 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. 17This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases."

Matthew, by recounting some of the miracles that Jesus performed, continues to demonstrate that Jesus had the authority to say what He said in the Sermon on the Mount. This section begins with Jesus healing the apostle Peterís mother-in-law: "When Jesus came into Peterís house, He saw Peterís mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on Him" (vss. 14Ė15). Note first, parenthetically, that Peter was married. Some traditions claim that Peter was not married, yet the fact that he had a "mother-in-law" refutes this. In fact, it seems that Peter (whose Greek name was Cephas) sometimes took his wife on missionary journeys. Paul mentions this when he speaks of the rights of the apostles: "Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lordís brothers and Cephas?" (I Cor. 9:5).

When Jesus healed Peterís mother-in-law, He "touched her hand." We saw in the previous section, that Jesus healed the centurionís servant without even coming near him. He spoke the word and the servant was healed, though he was far away. However, most of the time, there was some bodily contact between Jesus and the ones He healed. One reason for this is that Jesus responded to the amount of faith of the one making the request of Jesus. As we saw in the previous section, Jesus was going to visit the centurionís servant to heal him. But when the centurion convinced Jesus that his faith was such that he believed Jesus could heal his servant without visiting him, Jesus, after commending the faith of the centurion, healed the servant without visiting him. One problem with Jesus healing in this way is that people could claim that the healing was a coincidence. One might say, "Ah. The servant just happened to be cured that same day. Jesus had nothing to do with it." And so, another reason, quite possibly, that Jesus healed often by physical contact was so that there would be no doubt that the healing resulted from the power of Jesus. "Our Lord several times wrought miracles without touching, and even at a distance, as in the healing of the centurionís slave in the preceding verses; but He usually performed some act, such as touching the person, taking Him by the hand, etc., which would make it evident to all concerned that He was the cause of the miraculous cure" [Broadus 181].

The quick recovery of Peterís mother-in-law is notable: "He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on Him." We would have expected the fever to have left her weak, but the Lord healed perfectly, and completely. "She got up and began to wait on Him." There were no after effects of the fever. "In the case of Christís miracles, it was with diseases as with the sea. After the storm there is a swell, before the sea sinks into a calm. But Christ reduced the fury of the sea by a word to perfect calm, as He did the rage of the fever to perfect health" [Wordsworth, in Broadus, 181].

It is quite beautiful that the hand that had been touched and healed by the Lord, immediately began to serve the Lord. "She got up and began to wait on Him." The best testimony to others of the work the Lord has done in your life is to serve Him.

News of Jesusí healing power must have spread quickly: "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" (vs. 16). The writers of the Gospels document in detail only a few of the numerous healings that Jesus performed. Every indication is that Jesus healed all those who came to Him. We find throughout the Gospels numerous summary statements, like the one here in vs. 16, that say that Jesus healed "all" the sick who were brought to Him (see also Matt. 4:24; Matt. 12:15; Matt. 14:36; Mark 6:56; Luke 4:40). We learn from this that Jesus healing power is absolute and unlimited: no illness was beyond His power to heal. Some of His healings even required the physical transformation of the healed individual, such as the healing of the shriveled hand (see Matt. 12:9Ė13). A visit of Jesus to a town must surely have been a remarkable event, to say the least, transforming the whole community. "The sun which had set upon an expectant crowd of miserable creatures, arose the next morning upon a city from which disease had fled" [Kitto, in Broadus, 181].

Jesusí healing of all who came to Him fulfilled, we are told by Matthew, a prophecy from the book of Isaiah: "This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ĎHe took up our infirmities and carried our diseasesí" (vs. 17). Matthew here is citing Isaiah 53:4. In Isaiah 53, the writer prophesies the Messiah as the Suffering Servant. The verse that Matthew cites is part of a passage that tells how the Messiah will bear our sins and die for us: "Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, 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. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to His own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:4Ė6). And so, by declaring that Jesusí healing ministry fulfills this passage, Matthew is teaching us that Jesusí healing ministry is closely related to His act of atoning for our sins by dying on the cross for us. We learn here of the connection between sin and sickness, atonement and healing. Though we cannot say, in most cases, that a particular sickness of ours is a result of a particular sin of ours, we can say that all sickness in the world is a result of sin in the world. Sickness was not a part of the original creation, but rather came to us when death came to us after the Fall of man. So then, Jesusí healing of all sicknesses and infirmities that were brought to Him looks forward to the time when, because of Jesusí death on the cross, the results of the Fall of man will be reversed. "Jesusí healing ministry is itself a function of His substitutionary death, by which He lays the foundation for destroying sickness" [Carson, 205]. "The healings anticipate the passion in that they begin to roll back the effects of the sins for which Jesus came to die" [Gundry, in Morris, 198]. "What He suffered in our stead made it right that we should be relieved, to some extent even in this life, and completely in eternity, of all the consequences of our sins." [Broadus, 182].

Indeed, we thank You Lord, for sending Your Son into the world for our sake, that He may reverse the effects of our sin, and lead us healthy and whole into eternal life in Your presence in heaven. May Jesus be glorified in our lives! May we publish abroad the wonderful gift that He gave us by dying for us: He died for us so that we may be cleansed and whole, forgiven from all our sins. In His name, we pray these things, Amen.

 

 

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