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Michael Brown: Israel’s Divine Healer

… the servant came to relieve the burden of sin and sickness; his wounds make his people whole. What makes Matthew’s citation especially significant is that, from the viewpoint of Christological exegesis, the servant’s bearing of our sickness and pain (Isa 53:4a) took place on the cross. Yet the evangelist refers it to the Lord’s itinerant preaching and healing ministry! This is correctly interpreted by D. A. Carson, who does not fail to draw out the implications of Matthew’s theology: “Jesus’ healing ministry is itself a function of his substitutionary death, by which he lays the foundation for destroying sickness.”

Thus, for Matthew (and from a Christian perspective, for Isaiah as well), healing cannot be conveniently divorced from “the atonement”

By bearing sin and iniquity the servant bore sickness and pain; by taking his people’s guilt he thereby incurred their punishment; and it is at the cost of his wounds that total healing has come. There is no dichotomy here! The whole man has been wholly healed. The straying and sickly nation has been completely restored and made well (p. 197-198, emphasis his).

As the book moves to the study of divine healing in the New Testament, Brown declares, “It is impossible to think of the ministry of Jesus and the early believers without thinking of miraculous healing” (p. 209, emphasis his). Brown also does an important word study of sozo and other words related to healing. Brown also makes the important connection between healing and the eschatological jubilee (see pp. 217-218).

Contrary to much of today’s teaching on the subject, Brown says that “sickness, however, is not part of the cross we are to bear” (p. 233). He further clarifies the difference between suffering for the faith (persecution, opposition) and sickness and states that Christians who are sick, diseased, or handicapped are not therefore under the wrath of God. God can and will work all things for their good, however they are not “suffering for the gospel.” Brown also briefly states that Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” is not sickness, in his opinion.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Fall 2001

About the Author: Raul L. Mock is one of the founders and directors of the Pneuma Foundation and editor of The Pneuma Review. Raul has been part of an Evangelical publishing ministry since 1996, working with Information Services and Supply Chain Management for more than two decades. He and his wife, Erin, have a daughter and twin boys and live in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. LinkedIn

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