By His Stripes

  • Dec. 21, 2015
  • #8776

Jesus came to save us from sin’s curse, yet disease and suffering will continue until we are with Him in heaven.

By His Stripes

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a fresh slant on an important verse.

I’ve been sitting in my wheelchair for a long, long time, and as you can imagine, a lot of people – a lot of wonderful Christians – have wanted to see me get up out of this wheelchair. And the Bible verse they most often quote is Isaiah chapter 53, verse 5, where it says, "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." That’s the part so many Christians always quote to me. Where it says, by His wounds, or by His stripes, we are healed.

“Joni,” they will say, “it says it right there. Jesus died on the cross so that you might be healed spiritually and physically. All you have to do is just believe it! There is healing in the atonement of Jesus.” Now, I know what they’re saying and, oh my goodness, there are entire denominations which build their whole theology around that verse. So I want you to know I don’t take their words lightly; I have honestly looked deeply into the issue. And after a lot of study, this is pretty much my perspective on that verse in Isaiah.

It is true that disease flows from the curse God pronounced on us after Adam's rebellion. It is also true that Jesus came to reverse this curse. But does this mean Christians shouldn't have to put up with cancer, Down syndrome, Lyme disease or Alzheimer's? We'd like to think that since Jesus came to take up our diseases, there should be healing for everything from migraines to menopausal sweats. But that's like saying: "There's an oak in every acorn, so take this acorn and start sawing planks for picnic tables." Or it's like saying, "Congress just passed a Clean Water Act, so tomorrow morning Manhattan residents can start drinking from the East River." Oh, come on, forty years will pass before that oak is ready for lumbering. And purging industrial ooze out of a river will take decades.

And so it is with Jesus' reversal of sin's curse (and the suffering that goes with it). What Jesus began doing to sin and its results won't be complete until the second coming. The purchase of salvation was complete, and the outcome was settled with certainty, but the application of salvation to God's people is anything but finished. God "has saved" you, yet we are still (as the Bible says) "being saved" – it says that in 1 Corinthians chapter 1, verse 18. Look, we are still on earth, and this means we are still going to feel the influence of that old curse. At least we will until heaven!

First Corinthians chapter 15, verse 45 calls Jesus "the last Adam" who came to undo the curse triggered in the Garden of Eden; that awful old curse of death and disease and weeds and thistles and thorns. But you know what? Next summer you'll still be wrestling with weeds in your backyard, as well as a backache from all that hoeing. Only in heaven will we be whole and complete, both physically and spiritually. In the meantime, the New Testament indicates that you and I as Christians will have to put up with a lot of suffering and disease, and yes, it’ll test our faith. But that’s God's reasoning behind not healing us anyway. And that’s His purpose behind me sitting in this wheelchair all these years. Yes, physical healing is on its way, right around the corner on the other side of eternity. In the meantime, I love how He’s healed my soul!

Photo: flickr.com

© Joni and Friends

 

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