That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”
(Matthew 8:16-17 ESV)
One of the amazing things about the Bible is its attention to detail. It’s easy to miss these details. But when one notices them, you can’t help but be amazed at the care God went through to ensure the Bible’s accuracy and truthfulness.
The words “That evening” are an example of that detail. Mark’s account of the events we are reading about in Matthew make it clear that they took place on a Sabbath [Mark 1:21-34]. It was a violation of the man-made law for anyone to be healed on the Sabbath. It was also against the law to carry a heavy load on the Sabbath. So sick people could not be carried to Jesus (e.g. on a stretcher) until the sun went down, when the Sabbath ended. So it makes sense that the people would not come to Jesus, carrying the sick, until evening.
After a busy day of teaching and healing Jesus certainly could have used some rest. But it was not to be. Many who were oppressed by demons and who were sick were brought to Him to be healed. Notice that Jesus healed all. There was not one person He turned away. There is no one who is beyond Jesus’ concern.
As we learned in our introduction to Matthew’s gospel, Matthew’s goal is to show that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. Matthew accomplishes this by connecting Jesus’ words and actions with the prophecies about the Messiah.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah had predicted that the Messiah would take on our illnesses and would bear our diseases. Certainly in healing people Jesus fulfilled this prophecy. He took on the responsibility for people’s hopeless conditions. There was no man-made cure for these people. There was no vaccine to drive out a demon. There was no pill to restore a withered hand. Only God could cure such conditions.
But even more so did Jesus fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy on the cross when He took on our most debilitating disease – sin. Each physical healing was really a foreshadowing of what was to come – spiritual healing.
But just like only those who recognized their physical problem and asked for physical healing received such healing, only those who recognize their spiritual brokenness and intentionally seek forgiveness for their sin will receive spiritual healing. And just like Jesus never said “No” to anyone who requested physical healing, He will not withhold spiritual healing from anyone who comes to Him seeking it.
We know there will be no diseases in heaven [Revelation 21:4]. All physical and mental illness on earth is caused by our sin. We create our own problems. Yet Jesus was always willing to help us out of the mess we created.
Likewise, being eternally separated from God (aka hell) is a destiny we’ve created for ourselves. And God has offered us a remedy. It’s called forgiveness. And it’s yours for the asking.
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