He was a business leader in our community, heavily involved with our local university and its athletic teams. Right before I was called to our congregation, his wife had a massive stroke. I came to know him in that context as he wrestled for fourteen months with his wife’s condition, with his desire for her healing, and with God’s purposes in his life.
One of the texts to which he clung and with which he wrestled was Isaiah 53:5: “By his stripes, we are healed” (NKJV). He had read some things on the Internet about that verse and so claimed it as a promise that his wife would be healed in this life through Jesus’ stripes. It wasn’t to be; she died right before Memorial Day 2010, and he, too, went to be with the Lord eighteen months later.
And yet, there is a sense in which that text in Isaiah points us to healing. It points us to a spiritual healing that comes by way of redemption. That’s how the Apostle Peter uses the verse in 1 Peter 2:24: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” The healing that God grants us through Jesus is one that involves a cleansing from our sin and living unto righteousness. We are healed in the inner person as we are transformed into the image of Christ.
Even more, this spiritual healing will involve not only our inner person, but our outer person as well—because our spiritual healing demands resurrection. That bodily healing will come in the last day and is guaranteed to us: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). Our spiritually renewed inner person shall be reunited with our restored outer person; every tear shall be wiped away, every pain removed, all our physical ability restored—never to be wasted away again.
How will this happen? How is it possible to have this confidence? We can have such confidence because Jesus was wounded for us: by his stripes—by his wounds—we are healed.
He was our substitute, our replacement, who stood in our place and bore our punishment. He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. He received the chastisement that brought us peace. He took upon Himself the iniquity of us all. All of this is summed up in the words by his stripes—it’s those five bleeding wounds Jesus received on Calvary that give us such hope.
And because we have received Jesus’ stripes as our own, we have reason to be hopeful, to have the earnest expectation that we are being and shall be healed. One day, I’m looking forward to seeing my friend and his wife, healed, restored, redeemed, forgiven—by the stripes of Jesus.