“This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, ‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8:17)
Yesterday my father closed with a powerful quote about the nature of Jesus’ authority as it is revealed in his teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. It is an authority that left people astonished (v. 29), for it was not derived from any other source; it was inherent in him. He literally embodied the authority of God here on earth, and in the next 1.5 chapters, Matthew gives us an insight into what that means. It is an effective authority (Is 55:10-11) that has the power to bring healing, restoration and new life to the most broken, destitute, excluded and desperate.
Among these my favorite are the first three, because even in Matthew’s sparse narration they give us hints of God’s intimate concern for those who suffer. Jesus is able to heal from afar (13) but his very presence on earth implies a decision not to do so, and here we see this in action. He reaches out, touches (vv 3, 15) and is willing to enter into the homes (7) of those he heals, despite the ritual defilement each of these actions would typically entail.
Matthew references Isaiah to show us that all of this is not random or arbitrary. It is the fulfillment God’s promise to send a servant who would save his people from their diseases and afflictions not by “zapping” them from afar, but by his willingness to suffer alongside them, and most importantly *for* them. Notice the words “took” and “bore”. The image here is of shouldering weight on our behalf, implying that these healings and his entire ministry came at an immense cost (physical, emotional, spiritual) for him, one he willingly bore (Is 53:11)
Here is the authority of God incarnate. It is the authority of a King who preferred a crown of thorns to that of gold or silver in order that we might not be alone in our sufferings, but find healing and new life through His.
Praise be Jesus Christ!