I know people who believe that divine supernatural healing is the spiritual birthright of every Christian. They believe that if you have enough faith that you’ll never suffer from any sort of sickness. This view is regularly espoused by the fruit loops who appear on many religious broadcasts on TV—particularly TBN. Of course, I mean “fruit loops” in the most positive manner possible. Anyway, they base their “theology” that physical healing is part of the sacrifice on the cross on a misinterpretation of Isaiah 53, particularly verse 4 where we are told that Christ bore our grief and carried our sorrows and in verse 5 of course they have to trot out that “By His stripes we are healed”. However, that interpretation is simplistic at best and fails to take into account what Isaiah actually said in chapter 53. Further, as we’ll see in these verses, the New Testament shows us the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:4 and tells us what the purpose was of the miracles of healing that Christ performed.
We see two mentions here of the healing miracles that Christ did in verses 14-16. First of all, the text mentions a specific individual that he healed As He came into Capernaum, He and His disciples entered Peter’s house. Upon arriving, they found Peter’s mother in law to be sick. He healed her with a simple touch on her hand and she got up and waited on him probably out of gratitude. Next, Matthew mentions in verse 16 that as evening approached crowds of people came bringing those who were sick or demon possessed and the Lord healed them. When coupled with the previous accounts of healing that have been mentioned in this chapter, we see Matthew has painted a picture a compassionate Savior who graciously heals those who are sick. The fruit loops mentioned above point to these verses and say “See, Jesus heals people. That proves that all Christians are never supposed to be sick.”
However, Matthew tells us in verse 17 why Jesus healed people. The healing ministry of Christ was not an attempt to draw crowds or to impress people. Christ didn’t heal people because none of his followers were ever supposed to be sick. Christ healed people to “fulfill what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet:” In other words, Christ was being obedient to God—God had said “This will happen” and Christ fulfilled that prophesy. The verse quoted here in Matthew 8:17 is from Isaiah 53:4. Therefore, what Matthew, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is telling us in this verse is that Christ’s healing ministry on this earth fulfilled the physical healing ministry promised in Isaiah.
They say in real estate, the three most important things are “location, location, location”. In bible study, the three most important things are “context, context, context”. This does not apply just to the immediate context of a passage of scripture but also, as we see here, to the broader context of biblical revelation. It is important for Christians to understand and accurately proclaim what the Bible says about healing. There have been to many people misled by shuck and jive artists looking to peddle the word of God for a quick buck for Christians not to take this sort of thing seriously. While God can and does heal miraculously sometimes, as we can see from this passage, it is not something all Christians can or should expect. However, we can trust Christ to be with us no matter what we go through in our lives.