March 23, 2018
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
It has been a rough winter for me! In December, before Christmas, I came down with a winter cold. Then, two days before the New Year I again contracted what I thought was a cold. But it was more severe and, after a trip to the doctor and some testing, it was determined that I had the flu – Influenza A (H3)! It took me three weeks to begin to get over it! After I began to feel better and get my energy level more back to normal, another winter cold hit! And it hit me harder than usual because my defenses were low due to having had the flu! By the end of January I began to recover. But it seemed like I lost a whole month and more! I am glad I keep well ahead in writing my Gems For Living Bible studies because for about two weeks I only completed one study!
I have fared better than quite a few others who were infected by the flu bug. The New York Times on January 18, 2018 that 6.6% of all Americans seeking medical care show flu symptoms! Since I am writing this blog on January 31st, it is still early in the flu season to know the full affects of this year’s serious illness. But The Times reports that in a severe flu season, up to 56,000 people die from this disease! Especially hard hit are children and the elderly!
But back to the purpose of this study: I think the title, Jesus Got The Flu! catches our attention! But consider what it says in Matthew 8:16 and 17. The Lord had just healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever (see Matthew 8:14 and 15). Doctor Luke tells us it was “…a high fever…” (Luke 4:38). Apparently the word of the healing was quickly spread around the town of Capernaum because the next two verses record what happened:
When evening had come, they brought to [Jesus]…many who were demon
possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who
were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the pro-
phet, saying, “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.”
Matthew, writing to the Jewish audience, often adds a note telling his readers that such and such an action by the Lord was in fulfillment of a prophecy of the Old Testament. This is the case in verse 17 of our featured Scripture. Here, Matthew points back to Isaiah 53:4: “Surely He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” The word in the Hebrew for griefs is חֳלִי (pronounced khol-lee’ ). According to Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary it means, “…malady, anxiety, calamity…,” and is translated in the King James Version as disease (six times), grief (three times), and sick or sickness (thirteen times). So Matthew is not out of line when he translates Isaiah 53:4 this way: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.”
If that is so, then Jesus experienced my sicknesses, including the flu!
• How could He have experienced the flu? Did He contract this virus when He was a child? Or as an adult? Was He in bed with a fever, muscle aches, headache, and congestion as a lot of flu victims are? I don’t believe so!
✞ But consider the horrible suffering Christ experienced at the end of His mortal life:
▸ He was beaten and bruised by the Sanhedrin and the Roman soldiers! (See Matthew 26:67; Luke 23:11; John 18:22; 19:3).
▸ He was was forced to wear “…a crown of thorns…” (John 19:2) and “…a gorgeous robe…” (Luke 23:11).
▸ He was scourged by a Roman soldier. This was such a brutal lashing that men had died because of it! (see Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15; John 19:1).
▸ Beaten so severely, Jesus didn’t even look like a human being anymore! (See Isaiah 52:14).
▸ After the whipping, He was again arrayed with “…a purple robe…” (John 19:2, 5), covering the raw wounds, the blood of which had begun to congeal, sticking to the cloth of the robe. But before He was led out to be crucified, Mark 15:20 tells us, “And when they mocked Him, they took the purple robe off Him, and put His own clothes on Him.” This would have ripped open the scourging wounds once more – fresh bleeding and pain!
✞ “…and they led Him out to crucify Him.” (Mark 15:20). The effects of crucifixion were horrible – including nails driving through wrists and feet, infection, nerve pain, fever, thirst, great difficulty breathing, bones pulled out of joint – extreme dis-ease, pain, and suffering – which, in some cases, could last for days! (See Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 which prophesy in detail the experience of the cross). Jesus endured only six horrible hours on the cross! (See Mark 15:25; Luke 23:44).
✞ He experienced death – although the mistreatment and crucifixion did not kill Him! For He Himself said in John 10:17 and 18: “…I lay down My life….No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself….” Jesus voluntarily died for you and me – for our sins! (See II Corinthians 5:21).
• So yes, the Lord Jesus Christ “…Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” (Matthew 8:17). But what does this mean for us?
✞ Many Christians believe this entitles us to God’s healing of all our infirmities! I believe in divine healing, and have seen – even participated in – healing miracles. But this is a controversial issue, and I will not take the time now to discuss all the pros and cons of such belief.
✞ I will direct our attention to Hebrews 4:15: “…we do not have a High Priest [referring to Jesus] who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Tempted in the Greek is πειράζω (pronounced pi-rad’-zo – Strong’s Greek Dictionary) can also mean tried or tested. In other words, Jesus went through all the experiences (hard trial and testings) in one way or another that could ever touch our lives! This is why He invites us to “…come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16). It is like He is saying to us, “I know what you mean. I have been there and done that! I not only understand what you are going through but, being Almighty God, I will give you help in time of need! ”
May we take great comfort in the fact that Jesus Got The Flu! He experienced everything that we could ever face, and He has all authority and power to see us through! (See Matthew 28:18; Colossians 1:16, 17).