That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: "He took our illnesses and bore our diseases." Matthew 8:16-17
I've always wondered how the people of Jesus' day could see the things they saw and not believe He truly was their Savior. I mean, casting out demons, healing lepers, raising the dead--this is not everyday stuff we're talking about! How could you possibly miss what was going on here?
Jesus' healing work on earth, referenced here in relation to the prophecy from Isaiah 53:4, is really a type of things to come. A type is something that points forward to a greater thing to come, known as the antitype. They are sprinkled throughout the Old Testament, pointing to the greater truth to come in the New. For example, the flood and the crossing of the Red Sea are both types, pointing to a greater delivery via water that would come in the future, namely Baptism.
Matthew ties the prophecy of Isaiah to Jesus' earthly healing, but Isaiah went much further than physical healing. Isaiah uses the word ḥŏl, which we translate as griefs, illnesses or infirmities, to talk about what Jesus "took up" or "bore" for us. But ḥŏl carries with it the connotation of an illness of the soul. Thus, when Matthew talks about the healing of physical illnesses, drawing on Isaiah 53:4, he is reminding people not to simply look at the signs they see before them, but what those signs point toward.
Matthew was pointing people to the cross, not the immediate signs and wonders they were experiencing that day. The signs and miracles were great things! But they weren't the most important. Instead, he was calling them to look forward to something even greater still, the restoration of our soul, a healing beyond the physical.
Perhaps we miss the point because we see the actions, and not what they point forward to. When you look back on God's work in your life, do you rejoice and give thanks simply for that work? Or is it a type of things to come, drawing you back to the cross?
Published January 2012