Healing on the Cross

A good place to begin the study of divine healing in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, universally considered a messianic prophecy. Through the Holy Spirit, Isaiah graphically spoke of Jesus’ sacrificial death and the work He would accomplish on the cross:

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him (Is. 53:4-6).

By the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, Isaiah declared that Jesus bore our griefs and sorrows . A better translation of the original Hebrew indicates that Jesus bore our sickness and pains , as many reliable translations indicate in their reference notes.

The Hebrew word translated griefs in Isaiah 53:4 is the word choli , which is also found in Deuteronomy 7:15; 28:61; 1 Kings 17:17; 2 Kings 1:2; 8:8, and 2 Chronicles 16:12; 21:15. In all those cases it is translated either sickness or disease.

The word translated sorrows is the Hebrew word makob , which can also be found in Job 14:22 and Job 33:19. In both those cases it is translated pain(s) .

All of this being so, Isaiah 53:4 is more accurately translated, “Surely our sicknesses He Himself bore, and our pains He carried.” This fact is sealed by Matthew’s direct of quotation of Isaiah 53:4 in his Gospel: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases” (Matt. 8:17).

Unable to escape these facts, some try to convince us that Isaiah was referring to our supposed “spiritual sickness” and “spiritual diseases.” However, Matthew’s quotation of Isaiah 53:4 leaves no doubt that Isaiah was referring to literal physical sickness and disease. Let’s read it in context:

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 ” (Matt. 8:16-17, emphasis added).

Matthew plainly stated that the physical healings performed by Jesus were a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:4. Thus there is no doubt that Isaiah 53:4 is a reference to Christ bearing our physical infirmities and diseases. [1] Just as Scripture says that Jesus bore our iniquities (see Isaiah 53:11), it also says that He bore our infirmities and diseases. That is news that should make any sick person glad. By His atoning sacrifice, Jesus has provided for our salvation and healing.

[1] Grasping for anything by which they can cling to their unbelief, some try to convince us that Jesus completely fulfilled Isaiah 53:4 by His healing some people that evening in Capernaum. But Isaiah said that Jesus bore our sicknesses, just as Isaiah said that Jesus was crushed for our iniquities (compare Is. 53:4 and 5). Jesus bore the sicknesses of as many people as for whose iniquities He was crushed. Thus, Matthew was only indicating that Jesus’ healing ministry in Capernaum validated that He was the Messiah spoken of in Isaiah 53, the one who would bear our iniquities and sicknesses.