In a sermon on Matthew 8 pastor and author John MacArthur deals with Matthew 8:17 and Matthew's quotation of Isaiah 53:4. The issue regards how the atonement affects our present situations and sicknesses. Is there healing power in the cross? Being that we spent much discussing Isaiah 53 and how vs. 4 applies to Matthew's text, I though MacArthur's words should be shared here.
Many prosperity gospel, charmismania preachers, and healing ministries claim that Christians should be sick because of the cross. This is utterly foolish. As MacArthur points out in his sermon, if we cannot get sick (if we have enough faith), then that must mean we should never die. MacArthur corrects this error in the following quote.
Beloved, Christ died for our sins not our sicknesses. The gospel is good news about forgiveness, not health. Christ was made sin, not disease. Christ took away our sin not our sickness. He died on the cross for our sin. And we would never interpret Isaiah 53 any differently. We'd just say Isaiah 53 means He's healed us from sin if it weren't this use here in Matthew, because in Peter's, I Peter 2:24, when Peter says, "By His stripes we are healed," he says that having said who bore in His own body our sins." Peter's talking about the spiritual healing from sin. But Matthew opens up to us the fact that the statement, "He took our infirmities and bore our diseases," extends from the sin problem to the sickness problem. Yes there's healing in the atonement. Yes there's wholeness there, but only in so far as it comes to us in the fullness of salvation, the redemption of our bodies when we're glorified in His eternal kingdom.
The cross deals with our sin, not our sickness. And loved ones, we need our sins forgiven more than we need our sicknesses healed. The pain of illness, disease, treatments, and sickness should remind us of the seriousness of our sin as it is deeper and worse than anything we can ever suffer.
MacArthur - Matthew 8:16-22: What Keeps Men From Christ?
January 2, 2011 | Matthew 8:1-17 - "Be Cleansed": The Great Healer & His Great Gospel