Isaiah 53: 4.
Let us consider some reasons for applying this standard and cardinal passage, in this greatest chapter of the greatest of the prophets, to the subject of divine healing.
The first reason here that we may apply this without any doubt as a ground for the Lord's healing, is the use of the word "griefs" in this text, "He hath borne our griefs." The original word is found about one hundred times in the Old Testament, and every time but this it is translated "sickness." This is the only instance where it is translated "griefs," and this must be because the translator could not quite understand the sense of using "sickness" here. It might have been on the principle of trying to make the Bible sound more rational that this word was inserted. "Griefs" is not altogether a mistranslation, but the word really means "disease." This verse covers the atonement of Christ for our bodies, the provision of His redemption for these mortal attacks.
2. The next reason for applying this verse in the Bible is the word "borne." "He hath borne our sicknesses." This word is also a kind of technical term. It has a theological meaning which is most clearly defined in many of the passages in which we find it. It is applied to the scapegoat that bore away the sins of the people. It is used in this chapter where we are told that He bore the sins of many. It is found in John where we are told that the Lamb of God "beareth away the sins of the world." So it means not mere sympathy or mere relief, but it means substitution, one bearing another's death. Christ literally substituted His body for our body. That is the meaning of the words, "Surely He hath borne our sicknesses." He took them upon Himself and relieved us of the load by His atonement.
3. The third reason why we apply this passage to divine healing is the use of the word for sickness later in the chapter, in the tenth verse, where we are told that it pleased the Lord to make Him sick. "He hath put Him to grief," or literally, as Dr. Young has translated it, "He hath made Him sick in smiting Him."
We are told by physicians who have explained the causes of the death of Christ, that He died from rupture of the heart. He did not die from the ordinary causes incident to crucifixion, but He died from a spasm that caused His heart to burst, and when they came to Him He was dead, while the others who were crucified with Him were still alive. He died from the disease which He bore for us. So there is a sense in which Christ was really sick, but it was in our place, for it is added in the next verse, "And with His stripes we are healed."
4. Here is the fourth one. Matthew 8: 16, 17 confirms its application to physical healing. "Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses." There you have the literal translation of the word "sickness," and there you have the double use of the verb. Matthew's translation bears out in every part the application of this verse to the healing of the body. Both words, "infirmity" and "sickness," denote physical difficulty and disability. The one may be a lack of strength, the other may be a condition of physical disease. Still further, the use that Matthew makes of the verse makes it quite positive that he was referring to the body alone, for he quotes the passage in direct connection with Christ's miracles of healing. "When evening was come He healed all that were sick." The reason that He healed the people was because Isaiah said He would. Now, if Isaiah did not mean healing, this verse would be irrelevant. Isaiah must have meant healing, or Matthew would not have quoted it.
HEALED BY HIS STRIPES
5. Once again, to strengthen the argument, we have the closing clause of this great verse, "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed." Here we have all the different phases of Christ's death. "Wounded for our transgressions," or actual sins.
"Bruised for our iniquities." Iniquities are different from transgressions, they are something in us. It has reference to the state of our heart, to our moral and spiritual condition. What a man is, is much worse than what a man does, so Christ died for what you are as well as what you have done.
"The chastisement of our peace was upon Him." That means our spiritual blessing, our new life, our happiness, our peace and rest, our deliverance from the curse of sin and consciousness of it, our union with God in the Holy Ghost. All this was bought for us by His chastisement.
So we have three things in this Gospel: transgressions atoned for, our sinful nature laid on Him, our new life bought by Him.
"With His stripes we are healed." That makes the inventory complete. Without that it is only a partial list; with that it is fourfold and entire. But to say, "By His stripes we are healed" just means spiritual healing is a tautology. He has said that in the previous clause, "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him." It must mean something else-physical redemption through His agony as our substitute.
Now, if you will put those four points together, I do not see how any unprejudiced mind can doubt for a moment that this passage covers the healing of our bodies through the atonement of Christ.
6. But, again, we want to notice the force of the word "surely," in this passage. "Surely, He hath borne our sicknesses and carried our pains." Why did He say "surely"? Why did He say it here? Well, to say the least, it is an underlining of the passage intended to mark it as very important. It makes it not only important, but absolutely true. It is because in the beginning of the chapter he stepped out with diffidence and hesitation, and said, "Lord, who hath believed our report? Lord, they will not believe what I am going to say, and especially when I say anything about the power of the Lord, they will be sure to doubt it. If I talk about historical facts they may believe it, but if I go and tell them about a divine arm that can take hold of man's weaknesses, if I reveal a power that can do great things, they will doubt my testimony." "Lord who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" Therefore, the Lord just says, "Isaiah, tell them it is true, and put My oath behind it, and say, 'Surely, this particular part of the Gospel is true, because it does reveal the arm of the Lord, it does show the power of the Lord.'"
7. But we want to call your attention still further to the other word in this text, "sorrows." "Surely, He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." We have told you that the word "griefs" means physical disease, sickness of the body. That is the ordinary meaning of the word ninety-nine times out of one hundred. Here is added another word, "sorrows." I have no doubt that it is a true translation. The only variation that I have seen suggested is the word "pains." It might mean "pains," but I think I like "sorrows" best. It may mean a good many things. It may mean the sensitive, suffering part of sickness. It may mean that which accompanies disease. The worst diseases are often painless, and sometimes the severest pains are connected with the least important diseases, so you can see at once the difference between disease and pain. But, blessed be His name, He covers both. He will not only take away disease, but He will take away the symptoms which accompany it, too. You can bring Him your racking headache just as well as the consumption or the heart disease that is eating away your life.
Again, it may mean mental disease-the ills of the mind, and you know what a large catalogue they are, insanity in all its forms. Doubtless it can be healed, and God does give many instances of the healing of mental diseases through the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and if you know of any dear friend, suffering from this most fearful of all ills, do not hesitate to ask and expect God to help and heal.
But this word "sorrows" has another meaning. Doubtless it means the heart break, and the inward griefs that affect our feelings and affections, and bring an anguish worse than sickness-the burdens of Gethsemane. The more of joy you know, the more of sorrow you will always have, the nearer you get to Him, the oftener will you walk through the gardens of Olivet. But, thank God, He hath redeemed you from sorrow, and while pains will hurt, there will come a joy a little sweeter for their hurt; there will come deliverance from their bondage. It is one thing to weep, it is another thing to triumph through your tears and have your sorrow turn to joy. There are people that are crushed with sorrow, and there are people that rise through their trials and their cares, and you may rise and triumph through Him. You may go through life with a chastened joy, with a gladness that has in it a touch of gravity, but without a bit of the graveyard. It is yours by the redemption of Jesus Christ.
8. Our text is growing bigger and bigger. Why are the two verbs in it? "Surely, He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." Ah, that is the best of all. It means that He did not only take them when on the cross, and assume them as our Substitute, but it means that He keeps taking them still, and that evermore His hands are reaching out, one by one, to take them from you and carry them for you in the priesthood of His ascension. "Borne" means on the cross, but He carries them every moment on the throne.
So there are two things. First, you are to believe that He took them once for all, and then there is the putting them over, the laying them on Him, the transferring of every burden as it comes to you, and living out that beautiful verse, "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Now you cannot stop being careful for everything just by mere negation, as the folly of Christian Science teaches. That will not do. I cannot say there is nothing the matter with me when there is. I may say there is no trouble. But there is trouble. I cannot cancel my debts by saying there are no debts. But I can hand them over to another. Here is a letter from a friend: "Send your creditors to me. Send your bills to me, call upon me." And you just go to his office, and hand them over, and your friend takes them, and you can say there is nothing the matter; everything is all right." "You can be careful for nothing," but not like a blind Buddhist, or a silly ostrich, who hides his head behind a leaf and thinks there is no hunter because he cannot see him. "Be careful for nothing" is only half the remedy-listen: "In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." That is the way to hand them over. Give them to Him; tell Him about them, and He that bore them on the cross will carry them day by day, and then the care will disappear because the load is gone.