“When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases’” (Matthew 8:16–17).
Jesus performed healing miracles for reasons far more profound than to wipe out all disease, which did happen in Palestine while He ministered. First, He healed to personally participate in humanity’s suffering and illness. He knew people’s inner feelings of agony, bewilderment, despair, and frustration because of disease, and He wanted to sympathize. He vicariously experienced those elements, “for we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses” (Heb. 4:15).
Second, Christ healed people because He experienced the awful effects of disease’s root cause, sin. He could not see the pain of disease and death without feeling sin’s pain. Jesus wept for Lazarus (John 11:34–36) not from sadness but from feeling the sting of sin and evil that brings death to everyone. Sin and sickness both operate as effects of the Fall, and only divine power can cure either.
Third, our Lord “took our infirmities and carried away our diseases” as a preview of His kingdom’s most wonderful elements—the permanent removal of sin, sorrow, and disease (cf. Rev. 21:1–4). His redeeming work to remove the penalty and guilt of sin for His own would be complete. Just as with His transfiguration, in which He pulled back the veil over His flesh and gave three disciples a glimpse of His divine glory, Jesus gave those healed and all who witnessed a gracious preview of His eternal kingdom.
The question is not whether or not Jesus can heal, but rather why He chooses to sometimes withhold the healing we seek. When He does, what eternal purposes might He have in mind?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008.