God’s gift of divine healing is a dramatic demonstration of His love, grace, compassion and generosity toward all humanity. God is especially devoted to offering healing to those He has called to be part of His Church and the children in their care—plus others whom God heals when they call upon Him in humble submission and faith.
Consider that healing was a fundamental, dramatic and inspiring part of Christ’s earthly ministry and also the ministry of His disciples (Matthew 4:23-24; 8:16; 9:35; 10:1, 6-8; 12:15, 22; 14:14; 15:30; 21:14; Luke 4:40; 5:15; 6:17-19; 9:1-6, 11). And when Jesus was stating His commission to the apostles, He said one of the “signs” of the true Church would be that “they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:17-18).
Healing and the Passover
The Passover is a service of rededication. For Christians who dedicated their lives to God and Jesus Christ at their baptism, the Passover service should be a deep, sincere rededication to that commitment. That is part of the reason that the service is so significant and serious.
The most obvious reason for Christ’s sacrifice was to pay the penalty for our sins so we can receive God’s grace, forgiveness and spiritual healing. However, His sacrifice is also fundamental in God’s plan for offering miraculous healing of physical health problems. The annual Passover service is a sobering and inspiring reminder of Christ’s sacrifice and the many benefits of God’s amazing grace.
Trusting God for healing strengthens our faith, fosters a more intimate relationship with God and helps us to grow spiritually.
The Bible makes an important parallel between forgiveness and healing (see Mark 2:1-12 and Psalm 103:3). Every consequence has a cause (Proverbs 26:2). When God forgives, He removes the consequence of sin, which is the death penalty. When God heals, He removes the health problem, regardless of who or what caused it. (Health problems are often the combined consequence of multiple causes.) An added blessing is that if certain sins caused a sickness and God heals the sickness, He also forgives those sins (James 5:14-15).
This article is follow-up to the article “Divine Healing: God’s Loving Gift of Miraculous Healing” that was published in the Sept.-Oct. 2017 issue of United News. In that article is this paragraph about Matthew 8:16-17: “Matthew is quoting Isaiah 53:4 which proves that one of the purposes for Christ’s excruciating suffering was to take our infirmities and sicknesses upon Himself so they can be removed from us! He ‘suffered for us!’ (1 Peter 2:21). Further evidence of this is seen in 1 Corinthians 11:29-30.”
Now let’s clearly understand the meaning of 1 Corinthians 11:29-30. The Modern King James Version says: “For he who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks condemnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and many sleep.” “Many sleep” means many have died.
What is the connection between partaking of the Passover “unworthily” and staying sick or dying?
First Corinthians 11:17-34 contains Paul’s instructions about the Passover service—the proper procedure, the spiritual understanding of it and the required reverent attitudes. To accurately understand any one verse in this section, it’s important to understand the whole context.
In verses 27 and 29 of 1 Corinthians 11, the Greek adverb anaxiós means unworthily or irreverently and is translated in the New King James Version as “in an unworthy manner.” Some in the Corinthian church had been guilty of terrible disrespect toward God and Jesus Christ—irreverent conduct at the Passover and irreverent attitudes about the lessons of the Passover. They evidently did not appreciate the enormous sacrifice that Christ had made for them, nor did they appreciate the significance and seriousness of each aspect of the Passover service. They were guilty of taking Christ’s sacrifice lightly and taking the Passover lightly!
Paul said each person is supposed to seriously “examine himself” and “judge” himself regarding his understanding, belief, obedience and attitudes about the lessons of the Passover service (verses 28 and 31). Furthermore, all during the year, our self-examination should include searching for the leaven of sin so we can repent of it, confess it to God and ask for His forgiveness. See 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 and 1 John 1:9.
What does Paul mean by “discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Corinthians 11:29)? He means that we must understand and appreciate Christ’s total sacrifice. He partly means that we must discern that Jesus made a two-fold sacrifice—He endured excruciating physical suffering, plus He died. His dual sacrifice is illustrated by the Passover service when we partake of both bread (representing His broken body) and wine (representing His shed blood).
“By His Stripes We Are Healed”
The New International Version of Isaiah 53:5 says: “By His wounds we are healed.” Peter partly quotes this verse in 1 Peter 2:24 where Peter is writing about Christ’s suffering for us. Therefore, although we cannot know for sure if Jesus’ “wounds” were required for our sins to be forgiven, several scriptures together make it clear that part of the purpose for Jesus’ excruciating suffering was to make possible the gift of divine healing!
In Isaiah 53:3-4 (the chapter prophesying the Messiah’s suffering), the Hebrew word translated “sorrows” in the New King James Version can legitimately be translated as “pains,” and the Hebrew word translated in the NKJV as “grief” and “griefs” can be translated as “sickness” and “sicknesses.” Several Bible versions translate them that way. So both sets of meanings are intended.
In the Good News Bible, the first half of Isaiah 53:4 says, “But he endured the suffering that should have been ours, the pain that we should have borne.” We all know that when God forgives someone’s sins, He is accepting Christ’s death in place of that person’s eternal death. Likewise, when God heals someone of a sickness, injury or some other health problem, He is accepting Christ’s excruciating suffering in place of that person’s physical suffering. What amazing love! The Father and the Son were willing for Jesus to suffer in our place as well as die in our place!
God loves all of us as His children, and when we ask for His healing, He is always deeply sympathetic. When He doesn’t heal right away or doesn’t heal us in this life, He is doing what He knows is best for us in the long run. For example, 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 tells us about God not granting the beloved apostle Paul’s request for healing and God’s reason for that.
God and Christ may have several reasons as to why Christ’s sacrifice needed to include horrible suffering, but making possible the gift of divine healing is certainly one of those reasons. It’s significant that Psalm 103:3 pairs forgiveness and healing. God is He who “forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases.”
The Father and Son deserve our deepest gratitude for the enormous sacrifice Jesus made by dying in payment for our sins. And They deserve our deepest gratitude for Jesus’ suffering so that “by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5; 1 Peter 2:24).
Understandably, a lack of respect and gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice can have serious consequences. That explains what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 11:30: “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep [many have died]”
Comprehending 1 Corinthians 11 helps us all to better understand why God wants us to seek His healing when we are in need. And God has taught a process that is utterly simple—just contact an elder and ask him to anoint you for healing (James 5:14).
Why Does God Offer Divine Healing?
God offers human beings the wonderful opportunity to have life after death—everlasting life in the Kingdom of God! That by itself is an indescribably generous gift! But God also provides for us in in this life in countless ways—including His gift of healing! He daily demonstrates His kindness toward all people, “the evil and the good” (Matthew 5:44-47). This should inspire everyone to love God! “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Beyond God’s love for everyone, He is joyfully committed to generously caring for the needs of His spiritual children! We are supremely blessed with how “the good Shepherd” offers us “life,” and life “more abundantly” (John 10:10-11).
And, generally, what gift of God gives us the greatest physical benefit? It is the gift of divine healing! Good health is a blessing, and our compassionate God has made our health a high priority. First of all, He has revealed the fundamentals of healthful living in His Word. Secondly, God is the author of true science by which we can learn additional valuable knowledge. And when we are sick or injured and God sees that we need His help, and we trustingly seek His help, He is there for us as our Healer. If He doesn’t heal us right away, He has good reasons for delaying. It is never because He doesn’t love us.
Our Creator designed us with an amazing and wonderful immune system by which our bodies automatically try to heal themselves, so when a physical remedy is helpful, it is because it is assisting the natural healing. In addition, God’s plan for humanity has always included His loving offer of divine healing—miraculous healing!
God wants us to remember, “I am the LORD, your healer” (Exodus 15:26, English Standard Version). Trusting God for healing strengthens our faith, fosters a more intimate relationship with God and helps us to grow spiritually. If we can’t trust God for healing, how can we trust Him to provide an even greater miracle—resurrecting us from the dead!
At the Passover and throughout the year, we must “discern the Lord’s body” and remember that God’s offer of divine healing is a critically important part of God’s plan (1 Corinthians 11:29). May each Passover remind us that Christ suffered and died that we might receive the gift of God’s grace, and that grace includes God’s offer of healing—the healing of our minds as well as our bodies—in addition to His forgiveness and redemption. God through Jesus Christ is Healer as well as Savior.
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases!” (Psalms 103:2-3).