Jesus Bore Our Sickness
“Surely he hath borne our sicknesses and carried our sorrows.... My righteous servant shall justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities... . He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because. . . he bare the sin of many” (Isa. 53:4, 11, 12, R.V.).
Do you know this beautiful chapter, the fifty-third of Isaiah, which has been called the fifth Gospel? In the light of the Spirit of God, Isaiah describes beforehand the sufferings of the Lamb of God, as well as the divine graces which would result from them.
The expression “to bear” could not but appear in this prophecy. It is, in fact, the word which must accompany the mention of sin, whether as committed directly by the sinner, or whether as transmitted to a substitute. The transgressor, the priest, and the expiatory victim must all bear the sin. In the same way, it is because the Lamb of God has borne our sins that God smote Him for the iniquity of us all. Sin was not found in Him, but it was put upon Him; He took it voluntarily upon Him. And it is because He bore it—and that, in bearing it, He put an end to it—that He has the power to save us. “My righteous servant shall justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities . . . he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because . . . he bare the sin of many” (Isa. 53:11, 12). It is, therefore, because our sins have been borne by Jesus Christ that we are delivered from them as soon as we believe this truth; consequently we need no longer bear them ourselves.
In this same chapter (Isaiah 53) the expression “to bear” occurs twice, but in relation to two different things. It is said not only that the Lord’s righteous Servant has borne our sins (vs. 12), but also that He has borne our sicknesses (vs. 4, R.V., margin). Thus His bearing our sicknesses forms an integral part of the Redeemer’s work as well as bearing our sins. Although Himself without sin He has borne our sins, and He has done as much for our sicknesses. The human nature of Jesus could not be touched by sickness because it remained holy. We never find in the account of His life any mention of sickness. Participating in all the weaknesses of our human nature, hunger, thirst, fatigue and sleep, because all these things are not the consequence of sin, He still had no trace of sickness. As He was without sin, sickness had no hold on Him, and He could die only a violent death and that by His voluntary consent. Thus it is not in Him but on Him that we see sickness as well as sin; He took them upon Him and bore them of His own free will. In bearing them and taking them upon Him, He has by this very fact triumphed over them, and has acquired the right of delivering His children from them.
Sin had attacked and ruined equally the soul and the body. Jesus came to save both. Having taken upon Him sickness as well as sin, He is in a position to set us free from the one as well as the other, and that He may accomplish this double deliverance He expects from us only one thing: our faith.
As soon as a sick believer understands the purport of the words, “Jesus has borne my sins,” he does not fear to say also: “I need no longer bear my sins, they are upon me no longer.” In the same way as soon as he has fully taken in and believed for himself that Jesus has borne our sicknesses, he does not fear to say: “I need no longer bear my sickness; Jesus in bearing sin bore also sickness which is its consequence; for both He has made propitiation, and He delivers me from both.”
I have myself witnessed the blessed influence which this truth exercised one day upon a sick woman. For seven years she had been almost continually bedfast. A sufferer from tuberculosis, epilepsy, and other sicknesses, she had been assured that no hope of cure remained for her. She was carried into the room where the late Mr. W. E. Boardman was holding a Sunday evening service for the sick, and was laid in a half-fainting condition on the sofa. She was too little conscious to remember anything of what took place until she heard the words, “Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses” (Matt. 8:17), and then she seemed to hear the words, “If He has borne your sicknesses, why then bear them yourself? Get up.” But she thought—if I attempt to get up, and fall upon the ground, what will they think of me? But the inward voice began again:
“If He has borne my sins, why should I have to bear them?” To the astonishment of all who were present, she arose, and, although still feeble, sat down in a chair by the table. From that moment her healing made rapid progress. At the end of a few weeks she had no longer the appearance of an invalid, and later on her strength was such that she could spend many hours a day in visiting the poor. With what joy and love she could then speak of Him who was “the strength of her life” (Ps. 27:1). She had believed that Jesus had borne her sicknesses as well as her sins, and her faith was not put to confusion. It is thus that Jesus reveals Himself as a perfect Savior to all those who will trust themselves unreservedly to Him.