Sunday, 28th May 2023

Suffering and sickness in the Holy Bible – Part 10

By Emeritus Prof. Mercy Olumide
09 January 2022   |   4:02 am
“And behold, a leper came and worshipped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean,” Mat. 8:2

Emeritus Prof. Mercy Olumide

Sickness Definition Cont’

“And behold, a leper came and worshipped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean,” Mat. 8:2

Generic term applied to a variety of skin disorders including true leprosy. Its symptoms ranged from white patches on the skin to running sores, to the loss of digits on the fingers and toes. For the Hebrews, it was a dreaded malady, which rendered its victims ceremonially unclean — that is, unfit to worship God (Lev 13:3). Anyone who came in contact with a leper was also considered unclean. Therefore, lepers were isolated from the rest of the community, so that, the members of the community could maintain their status as worshipers. Other physical disorders or the flow of certain bodily fluids also rendered one unclean (Lev 12:1-14:32; 15:1-33). Even houses and garments could have “leprosy” and, thus, be unclean (Lev 14:33-57).

Jesus did not consider this distinction between clean and unclean valid. A person’s outward condition did not make one unclean; rather that which proceeds from the heart determines one’s standing before God (Mark 7:1-23; cp. Acts 10:9-16). Therefore, Jesus did not hesitate about touching lepers (Mark 1:40-45) and even commanded His disciples to cleanse lepers (Mat 10:8). Jesus even made a leper the hero of one of His parables (Luke 16:19-31).

Sin is also an incurable disease — and we all have it. Only Christ’s healing touch can miraculously take away our sins and restore us to real life. But first, just like the leper, we must realise our inability to cure ourselves and ask for Christ’s saving help.

Feebleness of mind and body, malady, frailty, disease, sickness, weakness. All these Christ bore on the cross, fulfilling Isaiah 53. Every infirmity is not a disease or sickness, but all these are infirmities (Lk 5:15; 7:21; 8:2; 13:11-12; Jn 5:5). Priests had infirmities (Heb. 5:2; 7:28), but not diseases or physical imperfections, for they had to be perfect physically (Lev 21:17-24). All saints have infirmities or weaknesses of various kinds (Rom. 8:26), but not necessarily sickness and disease (Rom. 14:1-2; 15:1). Paul had infirmities or weaknesses in body because of the sufferings of 2Cor 11:24-30; 12:5-10; Gal 4:13, but there is no indication that he had sicknesses and diseases that Christ died to take from him. His thorn was “a messenger (angel) of Satan” who caused these beatings, stoning, among others. (2 Cor 12:7). Any weakness in body, soul, spirit, faith, ability, etc. is an infirmity. The same Greek word astheneia is translated weakness (1 Cor 2:3; 15:43; 2 Cor 12:9; 13:4; Heb 11:34) and infirmity (Rom 6:19; 8:26; 2 Cor 11:30; Heb 4:15; 5:2; 7:28).

Reasons for Believers sickness/diseases

The fall of Adam into sin led the human race into the universal experience of sin, sickness and death.