They both succumbed to cancer. Despite the prayers of millions of people — they died. Was it because of a lack of faith? You may want to refer to our Twog on healing as it provides additional background study.
The context of this post is Matthew 8:14-17 where Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law; and many who were demon-possessed were brought that they might be touched. The apostle wrote that all were healed to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Esaias (Isaiah).
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4).
In chapter 53, Esaias foresees the suffering servant who will take away Israel’s sorrow; and Matthew interprets the prophecy as being fulfilled in the context of physical healing.
Peter, on the other hand, sees fulfillment in the healing of our sin condition:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his stripes you were healed (1 Peter 2:24).
Faith healers quote Peter (by his stripes you are healed) as validation of their healing ministries. However, the apostle correctly interprets the prophet’s submission that sin is a disease from which we have been healed by the scourging of God’s servant. (In his commentary on Peter, Dr. McGee concurs with the apostle’s interpretation.)
Is there a conflict, then, between Matthew and Peter — as when James seems to disagree with Paul regarding salvation by faith, or works? Of course, James and Paul are not in disagreement — nor are Matthew and Peter. The apostles are citing two different verses — Matthew (v.4), and Peter (v.5):
But he was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.
Why does Matthew interpret the prophet as speaking of physical healing when Peter rightly interprets the very next verse in context of our spiritual condition?
The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint, was widely used in Apostolic times. Paul quotes from it extensively, and there are about 300 direct quotations or references in the Greek New Testament.
Though it has been disputed for 2000 years, early church fathers — Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, Hegissipus, and Jerome — gave witness that the original copy of Matthew was written in Aramaic, or Hebrew. This accords with the general consensus that Matthew was addressed to a Jewish-Christian community.
Esaias wrote that the suffering servant bore our griefs, and took away our sorrows. This is a Greek translation of the original Hebrew. Remember, Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience so he alludes to the original meaning — infirmities and diseases.
The Jewish Publication Society translates the prophet: Surely our diseases he did bear, and our pains he carried …
Sorrows (וּמַכְאֹבֵ֖ינוּ) is correctly understood as mental anguish associated with a guilty conscience stemming from our sinful disobedience towards G-d.
Griefs (חֳלָיֵ֙נוּ֙), however, does not convey the original meaning — affliction, sickness, disease, and illness.
Matthew and Peter are both correct in their interpretation of the prophet. In fact, Word of Faith might have a more tenable defense if they quoted Matthew rather than Peter; but I suspect they don’t understand what either man is saying.
In Judaism, physical and spiritual well-being are interconnected. Our sin condition is reflected in the health of our body and mind.
Recall the story of the paralytic who was lowered through the roof that he might be healed (Mark 2:1-12). Jesus said to the man, Your sins are forgiven. After he had been charged with blasphemy, Jesus simply replied, Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’?
Yeshua literally fulfilled, as noted by Matthew and Peter, the prophet’s revelation. The question that must be asked is this:
Does Jesus heal today?
Two thousand years ago, Christ healed the multitudes. He healed completely and immediately. Does Benny Hinn perform such miracles? A mother took her disabled son to several Benny Hinn events in the hope that her child might be healed. Each time she was denied access to the stage. Only pre-screened candidates suffering non-debilitating ailments were permitted on-stage.
The fact is, Benny Hinn could not heal her child. The question remains … does G-d heal today? This is an issue that tests our faith, and causes some to walk away. A person who prays for healing surely demonstrates the faith to be healed (Mark 5:34). It is taught in both Old and New Covenants that if we seek the LORD our prayers will be answered (Matthew 7:7-11).
I don’t know why G-d heals some, but not all. If Jesus fulfilled the prophecy 2000 years ago does the Lord even receive prayers for healing today? We can’t know the answer except to live by faith. Clearly, things are different after the Cross, or else Joey and Nabeel would have been healed.
He said, “If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.” [Exodus 15:26]
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