The Compassion of Christ
“He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.”
After the healing of the leper and the centurion’s servant, Jesus came to Peter’s home in Capernaum. It is one of the few occasions we get a glimpse into the personal lives of the disciples, for we find that Peter was married. In 1 Corinthians 9:5, we see a reference that suggests many of the disciples had wives. There are several things unique about the events that will unfold. First, in contrast to the other healings, Matthew recorded the only healing without any request for Christ to act. Second, unlike the other healings of Christ, this sickness did not appear to be life-threatening. Her sickness was a very run-of-the-mill illness, one that everyone suffers from. When he entered the home, he noticed she was not feeling well. He could have quickly passed it off as some 24-hour bug that the body’s immune system would naturally heal itself of it. Despite the mundane nature of the sickness, Christ nevertheless stops and heals her so that the fever and the sickness are gone.
This brings us to the question, “If this was a normal sickness that the natural immune system could fight off, why did he take the time to perform a miracle?” Miracles are for the extraordinary, not the mundane. In the next verse, we find Jesus performing the type of healing we would typically expect. Yet even in verse 9, we also see a hint that Christ's healing encompassed more than just the life-threatening illnesses. Matthew records that Jesus healed “all” who were ill. Any that came to him were healed. So again, we are confronted with the question, “Why?”
The answer is found in verse 17. Matthew recognized that the purpose of these healings was to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy that Christ took all our infirmities and carried away all our diseases (Isaiah 53:4). However when we look at the context of Isaiah 53:4, the focus is not on our physical infirmities, but our spiritual infirmities. The word “infirmities” refers to both physical and spiritual illness. In Isaiah 53:10, the term is used of Christ being made “sick” to pay the penalty of our sin.
By connecting the healing of Christ to Isaiah 53:10, Matthew is pointing to the spiritual healing Christ brings us from the effects of sin. The physical healing Christ performed was in anticipation of the redemptive work of Christ when he took upon himself our sin so that the impact of sin might be reversed. The physical healing of Christ's ministry foreshadowed his spiritual healing.
With this in mind, we now get a glimpse into why Christ healed Peter’s mother-in-law. By healing her of this mundane illness, Christ demonstrated that he had come to remove all the effects of sin, from the worst of sins to the smallest of sins. Whether it be our most grievous acts of rebellion or the seemingly innocent mistakes, Christ came to bring healing from both. Through his healing ministry, Christ was also pointing to spiritual healing. He not only came to heal us from the physical effects of sin but the spiritual effects as well. Today, we still struggle with the physical and spiritual impacts of sin. But in the healing ministry of Christ, we discover that he came to bring the final removal of all effects of sin, from the smallest to the most profound. Christ took upon himself our sickness (both physical and spiritual) so that we might become clean. This final healing will come when we step into eternity. This is the hope we now have.