A shadow requires light, and is in fact the evidence that light is present.
Deep in the bowels of the earth, hundreds of feet below the surface in a coal mine, there are no shadows until one strikes a match or switches on a light of one kind or another. There may be a host of objects whose shadows could be cast, but not until light is introduced will there be as much as one shadow.
What is more, a shadow always is light. It is diminished light, but it certainly is light. The amount of light in the shadow may be so small that you have to come very close to an object in the shade to see even the largest detail. Yet we insist that not only does a shadow require light, but it is light.
Thus when treating The Day of Shadows, or, if you will, those days when God revealed the gospel through types and shadows, we are dealing with a period of time when there was light. The believers in that period did have knowledge. They did have the truth even though they did not have it as richly and clearly as we do today. They did have knowledge of Christ and of His cross. They did have both intellectual light and spiritual light in those days. And it may be added that the shadows continued even after Christ came in our flesh and walked among us with a sin-weakened body. There was much more light when He came in our flesh. But until the veil of the temple was rent in twain and God did away with all the types and shadows, and until the day of Pentecost when the Spirit was poured out to lead into all the truth, there still were shadows. And Jesus Himself went to the temple and kept the Passover Feast.
We take, therefore, the liberty this one time to call attention to shadows that were still there when our Savior walked this earth. And we depart for a moment from treating the O.T. line we were following in this department. We do this because of an amazing coincidence which the sovereign and eternal good counsel and providence of our God brought into being.
For the last eight years and more the God of our salvation made me and kept me painfully aware of a troublesome disease. I say troublesome because I, following the improper example of Paul, ignored the truth that His grace is sufficient, and foolishly thought that if only the “thorn in my flesh” would be removed, I could serve my congregation and our churches better, and—or so I thought—could do the things which plainly He did not want me to do. Committee work, speeches, lectures, and helping out in the Seminary in a time of emergency had to be turned down or be done on a very limited basis. And when this past year there was an aggravation of the condition that led to test after test and consultations, a well-kept family secret had to be made known, namely, that my heart might have to go under the surgeon’s knife. And the time had now come for this, and my name was placed on a long list of scheduled by-pass surgery.
Meanwhile the work in the congregation went on and we approached the season when in a special way we call attention to the suffering and death of our Savior. I told the congregation that, because of all the uncertainties, I did not complete the preparation of a series of seven sermons on the passion and death of Christ. Instead I chose to call their attention as often as I could to the amazing and beautiful contrasts—not contradictions—in the life of Christ. I was sure that I could figure on four or five of them; and to begin a series of seven and then leave the last two hanging in the air, as it were, would not be the best thing to do. I could stop any time in calling attention to these contrasts.
There is the fact that He is the Son of God and truly God. And yet He is also the Son of Man and very truly man. He is the High Priest Who brought the sacrifice that atoned for our sins. And yet He is also the Lamb of God that was sacrificed to make this atonement. He knew no sin. And yet He was made to be sin for us. He is the Captain of our salvation, and as such He came to destroy all His and our enemies. And yet He voluntarily became defenseless and surrendered to the enemy.
These contrasts and others I planned to treat chronologically. So first of all I called attention to the overall, general picture Paul gives us in Philippians 2:6-8, that, being in the form of God, and thus Lord over all, He took upon Himself the form of a servant. Then I pointed out the next week that early in His ministry He revealed that He is the Great Physician, the Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings, with power to heal the sick, raise the dead and lift the curse from off His people. And yet He contracted our diseases and died under our curse; and He Who came to bring us everlasting life died!
This became the last sermon that I preached to this very moment. For although I was told that I would have to wait at least three weeks for surgery, and expected to preach at least two more sermons on these contrasts, I received word after only one week to come to the hospital Monday! Having preached the truth that Christ is the Physician Who contracted our diseases as my last sermon—although I did not plan it that way—the providence and good counsel of God sent me to seek healing, or at least help, that would negate the disease to a degree. And for all those who face serious surgery (and all surgery is), for all those afflicted with diseases, for all in pain and misery, and for all of us who have loved ones in these miseries, I would like to pen down a few thoughts out of that sermon that we may begin to look at our diseases in the proper light, and so that our longing for and seeking of healing may be controlled by the Word of God.
This truth that Jesus is the Great Physician Who contracted our diseases is taught already in the Old Testament in such a passage as Isaiah 53:4: “Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Matthew makes a beautiful paraphrase and interpretation of this when in Matthew 8:17 he quotes Isaiah as saying, “Himself took our infirmities and carried our sorrows.” But, even before that, we read in Matthew 4:24 that men brought “sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those who were lunatics, and those that had palsy: and He healed them.”
We may note that this covers all our diseases and miseries both physical and mental, both of body and soul, both our mental retardations and our “nervous breakdowns”; and our spiritual woes are also included, for He cast out evil spirits. But the point we wish to make is that when people with all these diseases were brought to Jesus, the diseases were brought to Him; and He contracted them. He “caught” them. He did not simply take them away from men, but He took them on Himself. That is what Isaiah said as explained by Matthew. No, we never read of Jesus being sick. We never read even that He had a headache or head cold. Yet He took these diseases on Himself in that He took upon Himself the curse. Our curse He took on Himself. And He did die under that curse. Death, you know, is the state unto which all our diseases point and lead; and they are aspects of that death. We do not state it incorrectly. when we say that He contracted our diseases, caught our sicknesses. Instead the truth is even more powerful: He took upon Himself our death!
Now where will you find a physician among men, or a surgeon no matter how skilled, who heals by taking the sicknesses and diseases of the patient upon himself? What good can a physician do in a flu epidemic when he comes down with the flu? He cannot thereby take it from his patient. And he is hindered in his works of healing. What physician will cure your broken arm by breaking his own? Will that heal yours? Will that help him to set yours? Yet, you name it, whatever misery in your home or body, whatever disease, affliction or pain therein, Christ contracted it, went to the cross with it, took it upon Himself to take it away from us.
To understand and appreciate this we must bear in mind that He, by taking our place under the curse, took away the cause of all our diseases. We often speak loosely—and even atheistically—as though an earthly physician has removed the cause of our sickness; and we go to him to get to the root of the matter and take away the cause of our discomforts. Then when we feel better we say that by his antibiotics he has killed the bacteria, germ, virus that laid us low, and that he cured us by taking these causes away and ridding us of that which made us sick. The surgeon cuts out the malignant tumor, and a good deal of healthy tissue as well. Then we rejoice and say that he got it all. He removed the cause of our misery. No he did not! The cause is SIN! And no man can take that cause away from us.
Did God not tell Adam that if he sinned he would die? And does not the psalmist in Psalm 103:3 teach us that we are to bless the Lord and not forget all His benefits, because it is He, “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who healeth all thy diseases”? Take note here of the order. The iniquity must be taken away before there can be any healing of our diseases. No surgeon’s scalpel can cut the smallest part of of it out of our bodies and souls. No physician can say, “I got it all.” No surgeon can even say, “I got a little bit of it out.” Christ does that by His work of contracting our diseases and taking them to His cross.
We may say, therefore, even of the healings mentioned in Matthew 4:24, that they were shadows of a more wonderful healing. These who were healed still died. And Lazarus, though raised from the dead, went back into death and the grave at a later date. The healing we have is in the new Jerusalem wherein we will walk with bodies which, though they were sown in corruption, are raised in incorruption, completely and forever beyond all sickness, disease, and pain. And this is so, and can be so, exactly because He is the Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings. He makes us righteous and on that basis removes the cause of our diseases as well as the diseases themselves.
When then your body is full of pain, when you are sick and miserable, when you suffer discomforts and weaknesses of the body, mind, or soul, go to your physician for the relief that God enables him to give you. Do not despise the relief that our heavenly Father has led men to be able to give us. All things—medical advancements and new surgical techniques as well—are for your sake. All here below is for the good of God’s Church. But do not go to these men looking for the cure. There is no cure to enjoy in this life. There is relief, that is, one that is a temporary relief. But through the death and resurrection of Christ, and through our death and resurrection in His day, we receive bodies completely freed from diseases and death. For temporary relief go to your physician; but go to Christ for healing and the cure. Give Christ the glory, and never ascribe to men the power to cure and heal. Go to the doctor’s office and to the hospital for the temporary relief God is willing to give through men, but for healing and the cure go to Calvary. Go to Christ the Crucified and Risen Lord.
And then sing of Him as that Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings. Sing of the truth that with His stripes—not antibiotics and scalpel—we are healed. Sing the glorious truth that the way of escape from the curse is the cross. And bless the Lord with aii your soul for the forgiveness of your iniquities, which makes it possible that you may have the healing of all your diseases in His day.