The prolonging of life has been pursued for centuries. Many long for a “fountain of youth,” and numbers have searched for healing. In this light, there has been theological debate with detailed arguments offered on both sides as to whether there is healing in the atonement.
Matthew 8:16-17 states,
“When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.”
The context of the prophet’s quote (see Isaiah 53:4) is the Savior’s atoning work on the cross.
So is there healing in the atonement? Well, from where else could it be sourced?
Yes, there is healing in the atonement, but a follow-up question is necessary.
Though there is healing in the atonement, is it always God’s will to heal? Apparently not. Remember, the Bible says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). If it was God’s will to always heal, then contrary to the idea of this verse, we would hold the potential to never die.
At times it has been God’s will to heal. This is demonstrated in Acts and in documented instances from church history. Theoretically, it may be God’s will to heal someone of every sickness they contract . . . except, of course, for the last one. Scripture mentions this regarding one of the Old Testament prophets: “Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died” (2 Kings 13:14).
We should recognize the Healer is Jesus through His atoning work on the cross. Yet, we must also look to the Lord regarding His will in matters of sickness. Yes, sometimes it is God’s will to heal—even in modern times. As people look to Jesus, the Spirit inspires faith (Heb. 12:2), and many could testify of times of miraculous healing. Some instances may prove that it is not God’s will to heal this side of heaven, and in such cases, God’s grace will prove sufficient as it was for Paul the Apostle (2 Cor. 12:9).
Ultimately, whether in this life or in the glorified body, there is indeed wonderful healing in the atonement.
John Van Gelderen