Sunday: The Healing Messiah
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Read Isaiah 53:4, Matthew 8:17, and John 9:1-3. In what way are we to understand these texts? What questions do they raise? What hope do they offer us?

Image © Darrel Tank from GoodSalt.com

Image © Darrel Tank from GoodSalt.com

In antiquity, sickness was considered the result of sinful actions. (And even today, who hasn’t at times-even if only for a moment-wondered if illness, either their own or that of a loved one, wasn’t brought on as a punishment for sin?) In the book of Job, his friends suggested that his misfortunes, which included personal illness, resulted from hidden faults; the implication was that somehow his sinfulness caused his predicament. Similarly, Christ’s disciples understood blindness as punishment for someone’s sinfulness. This suggests that sickness required not diagnosis or medication but atonement. Matthew references Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy, stating that Christ fulfilled this prediction and that healing can be found in Him.

Various ancient pagan traditions included healing deities; none, however, proposed that gods actually took the infirmities upon themselves. Isaiah foretold a Redeemer who would assume our sicknesses and sinfulness. Other ancient traditions made provision for substitutionary atonement in order to benefit royalty. Substitutes were sacrificed in the king’s place in order to satisfy divine designs against a king, thus transferring evil’s punishment from one individual to another. Nowhere, however, were there traditions of kings dying as substitutes for their subjects.

This, however, is exactly what Isaiah said, and what Matthew confirmed: heaven’s Royalty suffering human sicknesses. Interestingly enough, the word translated as griefs in Isaiah 53:4 comes from a Hebrew word that means, basically, sickness or disease.

Jesus recognized that His mission was both to preach deliverance and to heal the brokenhearted (Luke 4:17-19). He attracted many through the power that came from His love and character. Others followed Him because they admired His easily understood preaching. Still others became disciples because of how He treated the impoverished. Many, however, followed Christ because He had touched and healed their brokenness.

We all have our broken places. How can we learn to disciple others through sympathy in their own brokenness-a brokenness that we can understand so well because of our own?

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Sunday: The Healing Messiah — 42 Comments

  1. When we are sick, either physical sickness or spiritual sickness, we have to ask the Almighty God (the Father in heaven) through Jesus Christ who died on the cross to heal us. His healing will be a permanent one while the worldly healing is of temporally. And to be a disciple it needs self sacrifice all the time either in troubles or not. When you in Christ, satana sends his agents to put much burden so that you should blame the Living God but in all the hardships troubles we must cling to God and God alone nothing else.

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  2. God is so good! He offers abundant life (John 10:10) and because He loves us, gives direction on how to care for our physical, mental and spiritual well being. Disregarding His directive leads to various ailments. These are a result of our choices and general manifestations of sin over generations that have polluted this world, not a result of God meting out punishment. God redeems, not punishes and He asks us to accept Him into our lives. That's all we have to do! In doing so we enter a relationship, a healing relationship where He takes on all our issues. So, even if the negative consequences of previous events remain such as sickness, disability or financial ruin, for example, our needs are met. We are empowered with the strength and strategy to live joyfully and in perfect peace until His return. I pray we all accept the abundant life He offers.

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  3. If Jesus died as a substitute of the death we deserved (???) why He did not get sick when He "took our sicknesses"?

    The Bible very often does not make distinction between what God makes and what He allows to happen, between what He accomplishes and what He foretells, between divine punishments and natural consequences... This is why Jesus's disciples believed that man born blind had sinned... This is also why (Is 53:4) "we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted".

    Isn't it urgent to face this theological/cultural/literal difficulty in order to understand the Beauty of His real character? I believe it is. That makes me feel much more attracted to God, and helps me to get freed from some of my internal fears, ghosts and oppressions... and to get filled of thoughts of true Love and Justice.

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    • I also would like to understand what "He bore our sicknesses" means.
      I'm not sure the lesson explains this to me. It just sort of states that it is so.

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      • Hi Daniele and Andrew,

        I checked out a number of Bible versions for Isa 53:4, and they all seemed to references sin, rather than physical disease, per se. Yet Matt 8:17 definitely does reference physical diseases. I understand it as Christ suffering with our diseases in a way that did not involve Him actually having the physical diseases. The clearest description I found was this one from Ellen White:

        Christ alone was able to bear the afflictions of the many. “In all their affliction he was afflicted” (Isaiah 63:9). He never bore disease in His own flesh, but He carried the sickness of others. With tenderest sympathy He looked upon the suffering ones who pressed about Him. He groaned in spirit as He saw the work of Satan revealed in all their woe, and He made every case of need and of sorrow His own. (That I May Know Him, p. 48)

        It is similar to the way He bore our sins: He did not personally sin, but He nevertheless experienced the consequences of sin in His own body. The Bible says that "The wages of sin is death." (Rom 6:23) And He experienced the consequences of sin in His own body.

        Christ did not merely experience the "sleep" death that everyone must experience, but the final death of sinners - even if we cannot explain it. For if He did not die as our Substitute, then we must die that death ourselves. All of the OT sin offerings, beginning with Abel, symbolized this substitutionary aspect of the Atonement. It is, in fact, the voluntary substitutionary nature of His death that reveals the beauty of His character. If we take that away, we detract from the beauty of His character.

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        • Dear Inge (and Andrew),

          I don't think your comment to EGW quotation is very consequential. If Jesus "took our sicknesses" without paying the consequences for it (He didn't get ill), He should have not paid the consequences of sin (death) by "taking our sins".

          "Taking sicknesses" just like "taking sins" are metaphors. As EGW well explained, it has to do with His sincere sympathy and concrete help. Just like He did with human maladies He does with our sin: He shows us sympathy and help us to get rid of it. "Taking sin" is a metaphor/image. Sins ARE individual choices, they can't be moved from one person to another; guilt is personal... If we take an image for Reality we risk to fall apart.

          You quote Rom 6:23 and, in my opinion, you charge it of tradition and personal meaning. Paul simply says that the result of sin is death: death is the most terrible consequence of sin we all see before our eyes. The Substitution theory creates a lot of problems: death in Rom 6:23 must be the second one; second death is the sentence that God's justice would demand BUT God's love does not agree with it, therefore Jesus who is God will die so that the law is satisfied (?) and now God can accept and save sinners: Jesus becomes a rapist, a robber, apathetic... without (really) being a rapist, a robber... but undergoes God's (?) judgment anyway; therefore He dies not normally of the first but of the second death, the eternal one so that He becomes the Substitute for those who were supposed to die forever: but the sinners that will die forever will die forever anyway, and Jesus will resurrect after three days! Does all this make sense?

          I look forward to hearing from you! :)

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          • Dear Daniele,

            The substitutionary understanding of the atonement does not rest on a single text or a number of texts alone.

            The whole system of sacrifices, beginning in Genesis and fleshed out in the sanctuary services, taught in ritual and symbol the substitutionary nature of the atonement. Sinners who brought offerings to the temple were to confess their sins over the lamb that was to die in their place, pre-figuring the death of Christ. So I suggest approaching the subject with reverence.

            If we reject the substitutionary nature of the offerings, we are left with a system in which sinners can "pay" their way into salvation. We are led to believe that God tried out one way of salvation before the cross, and is now trying out a different way. But the Bible does not present it so. Hebrews 11:4-40 makes clear that the saints before the cross were saved by faith as we are. They were saved by the substitutionary death of Christ. They expressed their faith by offering up the specified sacrifices.

            Why do you think Cain's sacrifice was not accepted? After all, he brought the best that he had. Was God being capricious? Was He playing favorites?

            I don't think so. I believe it was not accepted because he did not demonstrate faith in the coming Substitute by offering a lamb. (See Heb. 11:4)

            While we finite beings cannot fully understand the nature of the incarnation and hence cannot fully understand the nature of the atonement, we can understand what is most important. God Himself provided the sacrifice. He Himself took on the flesh of humanity and experienced the ultimate result of sin - the second death. No one else could do it for Him and maintain the sacredness of the Law. Only the LawGiver could devise a plan that demonstrated both the love and justice sides of His character.

            It seems that there are factions in Christianity that emphasize either the love of God or the justice of God, to the exclusion of the other attribute. That is a dangerous distortion. Only when we recognize both love and justice as fundamental attributes of His character can we begin to appreciate His character.

            There are, of course, other aspects to the atonement, aspects which are demonstrated in various models. But the substitutionary model is the most well-documented model in the Bible.

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        • Hello Inge and Daniele, I really appreciate your replies.

          I myself don't like to pit Love against Justice. As a matter of fact, I think it is an injustice to say that love must be "balanced" or has a "flip side" or counterpart (...ok, I just wanted to make a bad pun!).

          I like to think that justice grows out of love, which is the overarching description of God.

          I love your emphasis on the character of God Miss Inge. I wish we would keep that as the forefront of our message.

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        • I am not a theologian so I enter this discussion with some trepidation as some of the greatest theological minds have struggled to understand the mechanics of salvation.

          The issue that you are raising is whether we can consider Jesus as our substitute in the process of salvation. Personally I have no problem with the idea. It makes sense to me because God spent a couple of millennia trying to drum it into the Israelites that was the idea of the sacrificial system. The Israelites clearly did not get the point because at one time God told them that he was sick of their sacrifices.

          “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?”
          Says the LORD.
          “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
          And the fat of fed cattle.
          I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
          Or of lambs or goats. Isa 1 11 (actually read 11-18 to get the context)

          The problem that I have is that we often stop there and fail to take into consideration the wonderful other models for salvation that are given in the Bible. If you stop at the substation model you end up with a legal system that is has ethical contradictions, as you pointed out.

          God, is presented as the loving creator, empathizing with his created beings. He is seen as the Father, longing for being reunited with his children. It is not just a legal process of the one innocent being taking the place of the guilty to satisfy a cosmic requirement, but a family reunion.

          I think that it is important to see all the models and not to limit ourselves to just one.

          It is worth considering a number of texts that refer to this and consider just what each one tells us about the plan of salvation. Each of these texts tells us part of the picture. Some of them have elements of substitution while others speak of the fulfilment of love. (Scripture is quoted from the NKJV)

          But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Rom 5:8.

          I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Gal 2: 20

          And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Eph 5:8

          In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4: 10

          Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” Gal 3: 31

          For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor 5: 21

          For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. 2 Cor 8: 9

          For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 1 Peter 3: 18

          Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24.

          There are many more texts that should be added to this study. I like the way the book of Hebrews provides a really good synthesis of these ideas. (read the whole lot in one sitting to get the picture – not just a verse here and there.)

          Thank you for pointing out that salvation is more than legal fulfillment. It makes sense for us to try and express to one another how we view our salvation as it has the potential to give us a greater appreciation of Jesus’ love and how it affects our lives.

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        • I think argumentation over this subject happens when we fail to see the Bible as a communication to fallen humanity. To me Daniele makes a valid point about reality but one cannot say that the Bible is wrong concerning substitution because it is a way that God tells us that He has taken care of the sin problem. Besides, I fail to see where there is a contradiction in ethics involved.

          For many people the idea of Christ paying their legal debt by vicarious death means a lot to them. Maybe for some it doesn’t mean as much as the demonstration of love but for others they need a lot more concrete assurance that they are saved. I think we should also keep in mind that Jesus meets us where we are and that different people are at different levels of faith and see all of this from different angles. So, I personally prefer not to mess with any of the various approaches the Bible takes in reaching sinners like me by building faith in Christ’s promised salvation any way it can be built.

          Furthermore, I’m not sure that love itself is a model of salvation because it offers no mechanism other than "by beholding we become changed" but that principle applies to anything. The manifestation of God's love appears to me to be a revelation of God’s character which is something the entire universe needed, even by those who did not sin so it really has little direct action on saving someone per se. if anything it seems to be the driving force that animates the models. To me, when it comes to things like the theme of redemption or the concept of substitution we can see a definite model because they give a mechanism for salvation that sinless beings don’t need. I also think that redemption and substitution are closely related in that substitution pays our debt while redemption buys us back. Both of these models are essentially law-based which is something I think disturbs some people but we cannot afford to cast them away lest we do an enormous amount of damage to the Bible.

          Even so I believe that we need to look at all the models and shouldn't get stuck on any single one of them.

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      • Dear Maurice, Andrew, Inge, Tyler and everyone,

        It is a real pleasure for me to discuss with you on this subject.

        In the Bible we read: "I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I HAVE REDEEMED YOU." (Is 44:22). Redemption (i.e. salvation) here is announced, even before the return of His people. Salvation is already settled, at disposition of those who want to return from their sins. God's Love was already present and capable and free to save. God saves/loves/accepts/forgives not because Jesus died but because love/acceptance/forgiveness is His Essence.

        Love is the moving principle of God's justice. That is not so far for Orientals who have Karma, and those Hebrews who made their model of justice the 'eye for an eye' principle (a law that was given for "the hardness of their hearts" not as an expression of the highest justice!). In their systems there is no place for grace: if you wanted to be saved and accepted by God you must prove to be ethically perfect. (Christian Substitutionist theology added that it would have been ok even by proxy of Jesus' perfection!!) But God's Love, just like God's Justice do not need perfection in order to save: this is the Good News! God's Justice considers it Faire, Just and Right to save someone simply because he loves Him back even though (I would say, a fortiori because) he is a sinner! (Please read 1 John 2:1 translating "paraklēton" with Helper or Comforter just like in any other part of John 14, 15 and 16 and not with the awful word Advocate and see how God's image changes!!).

        The great and substantial difference between pagan sacrifices and the Hebrew ones is not because the pagans had the dreadful practice to sacrifice their children sometimes. The big novelty in the religious world scenario is that while other peoples made sacrifices in order to obtain something, Hebrews made sacrifices because they had already obtained. They sacrificed in order to testify of what they had already received: it was an act of praise! Just like salvation occurs BEFORE we get baptized, in the same way forgiveness was disposal BEFORE the sinner went to sacrifice.
        Jewish' sacrifices did not follow the DO UT DES principle (give in order to receive). Offerings were not accomplished in order to activate God's love, just like Jesus' death did not activate God's justice or love to save!

        Perhaps, the main reason why God did not accept Cain's sacrifice is not because the type of offering he provided was not good (in many occasions Jews used to offer their first fruits to Yahweh). But it was because with his poor offering he thought God would (or would not) give something to him back...

        Substitution is the negation of all this discourse on Grace: the core of salvation through Substitution is a (noble or ignoble) bargain: Jesus paid in order to save (do ut des). This is the theology of the merits and not of Grace. Finally salvation would be provided not for true unconditioned love but because Someone paid for it. If Jesus gained salvation for us, He 'paid for' it, if He 'gave His life in order to be able to' save us... this is not Grace ab origine.

        In Substitution theology, sinner, offering his sacrifice, simply moved wrath/punishment/sentence from himself to the animal. And when wrath must endure, the Grace of God is affected. Also for this reason, it is wrong to believe that Substitution is taught through sacrifices... the death of the animal should be considered, in my opinion, maximum as a prophecy - not a project deliberated by God - of what would have happened in History.

        (There is two starting points here: one theology considers death as a punishment, the other considers death the natural consequence of sin. The two roads lead to many different conclusions I realize... The first, behind the loving image of God, conceals and fosters a sin-affected image of that same "God" who made Adam hide himself with fear. The second presents an all loving God who cares always and shows us the concrete dangers of life and encourages us to choose better.)

        Sorry, Inge, but it is exactly in Substitution that Goodness and Justice prove to be two distinct realities: the first wants to save, the second requires punishment. They stand face to face; the reasons of one are not always the reasons of the other: mediation, compromise or submission of one to the other becomes indispensable. The metaphor of the coin is quite appropriate to describe this type of principle: one side justice, the other side goodness. One always prevails in spite of the other. You always see one side at a time of the coin and even when you see the auspicious side, deep in your heart you know that the other side exists, sooner or later will present its requests and finally you will be always unsatisfied with both.

        But I know you agree with me that justice and goodness should be considered as synonyms: they are the same word, they express the same reality! This concept has deep consequences on our administration of justice/pardon. In Substitution, God's Love and God's Justice do not have the same needs: Love cannot save by love alone, she has to submit to Justice (the Karmic, the 'eye for an eye' justice) that demands death anyhow (and perfection) in order to save... There is a kind of schizophrenia in God where justice prevails on goodness and definitely it does not demonstrate to be just at all.

        In my opinion Substitution is just a metaphor. The difference between doctrine and image/metaphor is that doctrine must prove itself right in each and every aspect. A metaphor does not need such a test: an image is right insofar it is effective, not because it is true in everything. Substitution is a good metaphor to express God's love (He gave His life for us) but is absolutely inadequate to explain His Justice (on this subject I believe I have already said something in my previous posts).

        Sorry for being so long...

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    • Daniele, I do agree with the main thesis of your comments (all of them) but I think you are taking the whole thing a bit too far. We need to keep in mind that Jesus was without sin (Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22; Jn 8:46) and that the condemnation of sin was placed on Him at the cross – not before. I personally view the process as a kind of reverse justification. We are accounted sinless by way of proclamation. Jesus was accounted a sinner by way of proclamation in much the same way (2 Cor 5:21) and basically died as one in our place. It is very much like a person paying another person’s parking ticket. That is what the cross is to us sinners; a payment for our condemnation.

      We should also note that He was fully man and fully God who had no propensity (bent toward) to sin. He took Adam’s place in his unfallen state and was tempted far more than Adam was yet maintained His integrity and faith in God (1 Cor 15:21-22,45-49). Through that He showed that it was not necessary for Adam to sin which answers one of the main questions of the controversy. What happen on the cross deals mostly with the controversy but it has a special meaning to us who have a death sentence hanging over us because of sin.

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      • Dear Tyler, if we "have a death sentence hanging over us because of sin" do we also have a "disease sentence hanging over us" as well?

        If Jesus in order to heal sick people didn't get ill, why did He have to die in order to give life?

        Don't you think we confuse the image/metaphor of the substitution with the reality it tries to explain? Isn't it a mistake to get stick to an image rather than look at the reality?
        Aren't all the moral and ethical contradictions behind the theory of substitution enough to think it is only a parable to tell the love of God but that has nothing to teach about His Justice?!?

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        • Daniele, what moral or ethical contradiction exists if someone offers himself up sacrificially for the sake of someone else? It has happened in history more than once in many different ways.

          Besides that you are running right up against scripture that says that Jesus died for us!

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        • Daniele, the "disease sentence hanging over us" is one of the results of the "death sentence". We tend to think of the physical death that entered the human experience after Adam's sin as the fulfillment of Gen 2: 17. However, physical death was only one in a sequence of what was to be their (really, ours too) new reality. Between Gen 3 and 4, we see fear (Gen 3: 10), relationship (Gen 3: 8, 16 last part), childbirth (Gen 3:16 first part) and agricultural issues (Gen 3: 17-18), expulsion from Eden and the murder of Abel at his own brother's hand. All because of one "simple" act of disobedience. So Eve, Adam and ALL humanity "surely" DIED that day. What exactly was that death? In the object lesson in Luke 15, commonly called the prodigal son, the father says his "son was dead and is alive again" (Luke 15: 24). So like the son who didn't actually die, Jesus was teaching that the dissociation in the son's THINKING that lead to his experiences in the "far country" was death, from the father's point of view. Eph 2: 1-5 helps us understand that in our sinful state, our thoughts bring us into physical diseased states, which in turn affect our thoughts, and locks us in an inescapable circular prison where the prison conditions worsen with the passage of time! Personal AND global, that's human history (Rom 5: 15)...until the Healing Messiah (Lk 4: 18)!! He came and by His singular obedience (Heb 2: 9; Heb 5: 8-9; Heb 10: 10) proclaims healing to literally broken hearts/minds (Jer 17: 9-14). All, who like Mary, experience God's favor of finding themselves miraculously pregnant with (the mind of) Christ will rejoice (Lk 1: 46-47) in truly good news (Lk 2: 10) of freedom from the diseased mind of Adam, that only results in death (Heb 10: 16-17)!

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        • Daniele, The "death sentence" because of sin is clear in Rom 6:23.

          There is no "disease sentence" in the Bible, as you surely know.

          I believe that confusion occurs when we see Bible metaphors as an either/or situation - as in the Atonement being either substitutionary OR healing. In fact, the Bible tells us that it is both and more. Other metaphors are ransom, rescue, adoption, setting prisoners free, and bringing the lost home. And all these are aspects of the Atonement as well. In all these, God the Father is involved in the person of Jesus Christ.

          If you put your mind to it, you will likely think of more metaphors and aspects of the Atonement.

          Focusing on one to the exclusion of others does not do justice to the work of Christ. Particularly, denying the substitutionary aspect of the Atonement denies the central message of God's loving self-sacrifice as recorded in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

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        • Love, mercy, and justice, all go together. Sometimes people get sick because of the consequences the have to suffer for past mistakes. That does not denote the reality that Jesus does not love us. All sins have consequences.

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        • Dear Tyler, sorry if I appear provoking and maybe I was and I apology. It was not my intention. I might be in error, of course, but I really think the Substitution position can be hold (maximum) just as an image of God's love but it fails to explain faithfully Reality for ethical reasons.

          1. It is not ethical to judge someone who is guilty innocent and the innocent guilty. Such judge is arbitrary and immoral.

          2. Jesus in Mt 5 says that unless our righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven.. And explaining this concept He said "You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek..." In the Substitution theory, isn't the Father or His Justice stuck to the "eye for the eye" concept demanding death however, showing His righteousness being not so better than the one of the scribes and the Pharisees?

          3. You called upon History. Isn't human history full of examples of people that just forgave freely without demanding nothing in exchange (but true confession)? See Mandela for recent examples.

          4. What kind of regimes where those who accepted the substitution (in administering their 'justice')? Where not they Fascists, Nazis and dictatorial? Could we compare them with the Father?

          How far are we willing to carry on our images instead of looking at Reality?

          What do you think?

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  4. Why did Jesus tell some of the people He healed not to say anything (the blind man) and not to follow Him (in the case of the demoniac)?

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  5. The following quote is in the first paragraph of Sunday's lesson. "Christ’s disciples understood blindness as punishment for someone’s sinfulness. This suggests that sickness required not diagnosis or medication but atonement."

    The Bible itself seems to suggest that sickness requires atonement, when Jesus sometimes prefaced his healing words with "thy sins be forgiven thee" Please clarify and reconcile these two statements.

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  6. 8 I found that these verses from isaiah really summarize Christs mission to this world. “The uSpirit of the Lord is upon Me,Because He has anointed MeTo preach the gospel to the poor;He has sent Me 9to heal the brokenhearted,To proclaim liberty to the captivesAnd recovery of sight to the blind,To vset at liberty those who are 1oppressed;19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Isn't it amazing that Christ actually stick to the script in his ministry.

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  7. This is a very interesting lesson. According to Isaiah 53.4 ''Jesus bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows''. No where in history is it recorded or mentioned that the ''pagan gods'' did or is doing such for their worshippers. Jesus is the only One who can redeem us from grief and sorrows, and bring real healing.

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  8. If we are to disciple the sick, why did Jesus tell some of the people He healed not to say anything (eg the blind man) and others not to follow Him (eg the case of the demoniac)?

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    • The case of the demoniac of Mark 5 - one of the longest miracle descriptions. Jesus told the healed man to stay and tell his story.

      19 Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.

      20 And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.

      Clearly Jesus recognised that the ground was fertile and the people ready to receive the new ideas of the Gospel. Once again we have Jesus taking into consideration the circumstances of the miracle and its effect on the people. (I have to admit though that this one surprises me. A lot of pigs died that day and they represented a significant income for the people of the area. Maybe the incident pricked their consciences about unclean animals.)

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  9. In the case of the blind man, many commentators believe that the local village was antagonistic to Jesus so Jesus told him to go to his home directly rather than go through the village. I cannot back that up with any great insight of my own, but if the commentators are right, then the advice would have been given to protect the man from antagonistic questioning. (That has been recorded as happening to others.) It would seem that Jesus was concerned for the welfare of the man, rather than getting publicity for doing a miracle. And I think that is characteristic of what Jesus would do.

    I will have a think about the demoniac case. I just need to check some background material on that one.

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      • Indeed Tyler. Mark 1: 43-45 is very clear about why.

        And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away;

        44 And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

        45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.

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  10. God always wants to heal us and take care of us if we would only allow Him. Is this too much of Christ to ask of us? He wants us to be relieved of our brokenness, bereft of our sinfulness. Why not give Jesus a chance!

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    • Might it be that giving Jesus a chance means following the instruction He has so graciously given to His last-day church - the instructions concerning healthful living?

      At minimum that would mean living a life as close to the creation ideal as we can manage in this present world - spending time in the fresh air and sunshine, using fresh water inside and outside the body, exercising at least by walking, getting adequate rest at night, avoiding all unhealthful substances and habits, eating sparingly of the good food God created in as close a form as He created it as possible, and trusting God in all things.

      If we all did that, we would experience the more abundant life God planned for us. :)

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    • Evie, I think you are concerned about the words: "Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him."

      The context is clear that this was a misconception presented to Jesus by the Pharisees when he healed the man who was born blind, and not something that Jesus said. It is worth reading the whole story because Jesus clears up a few incorrect ideas here.

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      • Maurice,
        We might need to review the passage again. The words of John 9:31 were not actually said by the Pharisees, but by the healed man. EGW notes in Desire of Ages p. 474 and elsewhere that the man’s reply was inspired by God and left the Pharisees speechless for a few moments.
        Although on the surface the statement might be mistaken to mean that sinners are without help the statement is correct when properly applied. The Lord does not hear or answer every prayer as noted in various passages such as

        Isaiah 1:15; Proverbs 15:29; Deuteronomy 1:45; Job 35:13; Psalm 66:18; Jeremiah 11:11; James 4:3; Micah 3:4; Psalm 18:41; Luke 18:14

        There are pre-requisites for answered prayers. Primarily sincerity is a basic requirement. Then subject to knowledge, exposure, experience, privilege, revelation, etc. God expects a repentant spirit, a willingness to obey, wholesome motives, faith etc. on a case by case basis. There are many prayers which get nowhere because of a rebellious spirit. To whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:48). The Pharisees got this message from one whom they had not expected. The man was an instant witness for Christ and God used him (John 9:3).
        On the other hand the humble genuine sinner who truly believes has God’s ears. Such will not be turned away. This is good news.

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        • Yes I accept that it was the healed man who made the statement, but here was a man surprised by sight and he still had a lot to learn. I am not sure that he had the prerequisites learned when Christ healed him. The interesting thing is the interchange that occurred after Jesus found the man was being bullied by the Pharisees. They thought they had the prerequisites:

          40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, eand said to Him, “Are we blind also?”

          41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.

          If only we could see truly ourselves ...

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    • All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Scripture also tell us we must die daily. And accept the blood of Jesus Christ as an atonement for our sin by faith. He said He is a forgiving GOD and He loves to have mercy on His children.

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  11. According to the The lesson and other sources a transliteration of Isaiah 53:4 reads 'He has borne our disease/sickness and carried our pains'. Does this have only a spiritual application I.e. The disease of sin and pain of guilt or is there also a physical application? Please clarify

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  12. [Editor's Note: Please use full names when commenting. Thank you.]

    The history of Job had shown that suffering is inflicted by Satan, and is overruled by God for purposes of mercy. But Israel did not understand the lesson. The same error for which God had reproved the friends of Job was repeated by the Jews in their rejection of Christ. – {WM 21.3}

    The disciples were not called upon to discuss the question as to who had sinned or had not sinned, but to understand the power and mercy of God in giving sight to the blind.—The Desire of Ages, 470, 471. – {WM 21.4}

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  13. [Moderator Note: please use first and last names when commenting on this site. Thanks!]

    Why do we see fewer miracles now in the SDA, than those we see in this faith healing churches?

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    • While I cannot speak about all so-called faith-healing churches, I think you will find that a lot of the miracles are unproven. If someone comes to church claiming they are sick and walks out claiming they are cured, that is not proof that a miracle has occurred. As I said somewhere else in this discussion I have witnessed two such miracles in my lifetime. When it came time for those folk to provide the medical evidence for the cure it was clear that such evidence could not be provided. They were hoaxes.

      True miracles are few and far between and I would not count on then as a medical plan. Some of the miracles we hear about in the faith healing churches are really clever mind deceptions.

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      • Brother Maurice,
        Allow me to support your statement. Miraculous healing is not a reliable primary medical/health plan. It is a contingency, and even then it is not guaranteed, but subject to how the Lord decides to apply mercy and more importantly how it fits in His overall will and purpose. Our health plan is to be found in God's laws and counsels. It is the same health plan which was instituted in Eden and will be in effect in Eden restored.

        It is presumptious to disregard light given through scripture, spirit of prophecy, science and/or colleagues and then expect The Great Physician has an obligation to heal at the mention of His name or through annointing. To comply with certain requests God would actually be working against His purpose.

        More than a show miracle working is primarily to advance the Kingdom of Heaven.

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  14. On this thread over the past week there seems to have arisen a question concerning the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of the substitutionary nature of the cross. I would like to clarify why I think the position of the church is correct.

    The two main areas of concern seem to be:
    1. That the theology of Christ’s substitutionary death is not reality.
    2. That the doctrine of substitution is unethical.

    First, for the Christian it doesn’t matter whether it is reality or not; it is what the Bible says (Gal 3:13; 2 Cor 5:21; 2 Cor 8:9; Heb 9:28; Heb 7:27;etc.). I am not about to argue with God concerning why he allowed or even commanded that concept to be put in the Bible. He has far more wisdom than I have and is in the business of trying to win His creation back after a brutal attack by His adversary. That means that He is in the business of reconciliation and the doctrine of a vicarious death is one way that sinful humans can have faith in God’s promises.

    If you have children do you answer their questions with terms and concepts that only an adult can understand? Do you not try to come down to their level and put your answer in a way that they can understand? That is what God is doing with us. Some people have trouble seeing their salvation any other way other than Christ dying for them, so why do we insist on pulling their faith right out from under them not to say anything about calling the Bible a liar which does even more damage to Christian faith.

    Certainly, there are better ways of looking at the atonement than what we have and I suspect that we are only beginning to understand the whole thing. I also firmly believe that we will be learning about the plan of salvation throughout all eternity and yet will never reach the depths of it.

    I agree that God does not need the death of someone in order to save. He can save anyone any way He wishes and no one can question Him because He is a sovereign, absolute, all powerful monarch. Furthermore, I believe that He has already saved those who He knows will make the right choice long before the cross. But, as I stated before in another comment the problem is a matter of communication - it is the problem of reconciling us to God. How does he win the battle of souls - how does he win us over? Sometimes one has to do what is not needed in order for someone else to believe something and that is what God chose to do on the cross.

    For the sake of many, many people who desperately need all the assurance they can get our church holds to the doctrine of vicarious death the same as the Bible does because that is the way God chose to reach sinful humanity.

    Secondly, concerning the whole concept of substitution as being unethical please consider this. In most industrialized countries of the world the government usually requires drivers to have car insurance the way the US does or Canada or Europe. Does anyone really think that is unethical? Do you not see that it involves substitutionary law? When you have an accident, whether intended or not, and get a large bill for damages which you rightfully owe the insurance company steps in and pays it for you. It is a contract that you have with them, a two party covenant, that you pay for so that you do not have to shoulder a large debt when you have an accident. Christ also made a similar covenant before time began only it was a one party covenant without the requirement of payment. It stated that if we fall into sin He would pay our debt which is something far too expensive for us to pay on our own. If His covenant is unethical then so is an insurance policy that you pay for and if you enter into such a contract then you are as unethical as it is. The question is should we feel that way about ourselves when we have to purchase required car insurance? If our hearts don't condemn us in this (Rom 2:14-15) then the concept of payment for our sins by another is very ethical - just as much so as freely giving someone else something without compensation.

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