Word for Wednesday

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Essaias the prophet, saying ‘Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.’ Matthew 8:17

This is not exactly the way most of us memorized Isaiah 53:4. Most of us learned part, or most, of that chapter in Sunday School, and have read it many dozens of times, so it is very familiar to us. But the way we learned it was about griefs and sorrows, not about infirmities and sicknesses. So which one is right? And what is the difference? Is Matthew misquoting the prophet here? No, the Gospel writer is not misquoting this verse at all; he is simply focusing on one aspect of the great depths of the original verse in Isaiah.

Our text comes amid the healing of many people who came to the Lord Jesus. All manner of diseases were cured, including the horror of demon possession. Unlike earthly doctors, who see only the symptoms of their patients’ diseases and whose caring may be shallow and monetary, the Lord Jesus approached every ill and suffering person with a perfect understanding of the problem and a perfect compassion for them. He knew the root cause of all their troubles was sin, the very problem He came into the world to solve. The Great Physician who knew and cared was indeed taking their infirmities and bearing their sicknesses.

Consider how our first parents were told of the sorrow that would result from their disobedience. The woman was told that her sorrow would be greatly multiplied in childbirth (Genesis 3:16) and the man was told that he would struggle to bring forth fruit from the ground and would eat that fruit in sorrow (Genesis 3:17). When our text as first presented in Isaiah speaks of sorrows, it speaks of all our physical ailments as well as all of the tragedies, griefs, and woes that we encounter in this life. He knows about the broken heart as well as the broken leg. He cares about the loneliness and depression just as He knows about the ulcer, the cancer, and the fever. He appreciates the loss of loved ones and treasured possessions as much as He appreciates the loss of health and strength and appetite. And with a perfect understanding and caring, He bears upon His heart that which is often beyond our ability to bear.

We find comfort in knowing about the caring of the Lord Jesus. But He offers more than just His caring; He offers to actually carry our griefs and sorrows for us. -Jim MacIntosh

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