I recently read a quote from Max Lucado that keeps coming back to me:
Legalism is joyless because it’s endless. Grace offers rest. Legalism? Never!
“Grace offers rest.” That’s beautiful. I like to just sit and think about that.
Then I came across Isaiah 53 when preparing for a class:
1 Who has believed what we have heard? And who has the arm of the LORD been revealed to?
2 He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.
4 Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. [HCSB]
We have here a chapter from Isaiah that refers to Christ the Messiah, who will take away the sins of the world. But in the middle of this passage, one phrase suddenly stood out to me: “Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains.” I don’t know how I’ve missed this before — probably because I was focused on everything else in the passage — but here we have a section that is referring not to sin, but to our sickness and pain, our illnesses, our infirmities, our insecurities, our weaknesses, our fears, our griefs, our sorrows.
And then this passage from Isaiah is referenced in Matthew 8:16-17:
16 When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. He drove out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick,
17 so that what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: He Himself took our weaknesses and carried our diseases. [HCSB]
Then we see in the next chapter of Matthew, after he continues healing people and casting out demons:
35Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. [HCSB]
I read this statement, “healing every disease and every sickness,” and I begin to think that in a way, Jesus eradicated disease and sickness from the places that He visited. I look at the meaning behind those words, all and every, and those are superlative words. They mean what we we think those words mean — there is no hyperbole involved.
So what does this mean for me? Well, I know that it doesn’t mean that every sickness will be healed in my life, nor in the lives of my loved ones. The healing ministry of Jesus was unique to Him and His lifetime. We all know people who have died of an illness. We pray to God for someone to be healed, and sometimes they’re healed, but sometimes they’re not. So I’m not trying to suggest some sort of “health and wellness” religion.
What I am saying is this: God is not just interested in my spiritual well-being, although I would say that is His primary interest for me. But I believe that God is also interested in my physical and emotional well-being. This thought can be groundbreaking for some. We’ve been taught through our churches and our culture that we have to be tough, and we use soldier analogies, and we try to stuff our emotions down inside and put on a happy face. But that’s not grace. That’s not reality. That’s not honesty. Grace offers rest. Grace is knowing that we can come to God, our Father, with anything — any sickness, any disease, any frustration, any fear, any failure, any emotion — and know that He can handle it. Not only can He handle it, but He can give rest, as He promises in Matthew 11:28-30:
28 Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
29 All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.
30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. [HCSB]
Grace offers rest.