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.” (Matt 8:16-17)
When scripture says Jesus "took" and "bore" our infirmities and diseases, it has a twofold meaning: he took them upon himself, experiencing them ultimately on the cross, and he took them away, leaving us healed. His ability to heal is often linked to his compassion for and identification with the broken and hurting, whether that pain is physical infirmity or spiritual disease (e.g., Matt 14:14; Matt 20:34; Mark 8:2-3; 2 Cor 8:9; Heb 4:15). Isaiah 63:9 is one of the most tender expressions of this healing identification:
"In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them;in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old."
Week 23 of Creighton University's online spiritual retreat invites contemplation of Jesus as Healer, explaining:
"Jesus is able to heal because love heals. The more complete the love, the more profound is the healing. Jesus' love is penetrating. He doesn't hold back any of himself in loving. He is not put off by disfigurement or fear of contamination or even religious conventions that place limits to his loving. He is not afraid to touch and touch deeply. His heart is full of compassion. Jesus can so suffer with the one who suffers that he enters into the depths of - even the roots of - the pain of those he loves. Jesus loves so deeply he can understand and love the paralysis that causes the paralysis, the blindness that underlies the blindness, the leprosy that breaks out in leprosy. Jesus heals by embracing. Jesus embraces the inner illness that seems so untouchable or rigid or hidden in the darkness of denial. Jesus can love the whole person into wellness, precisely because he loves the whole person in brokenness. With such great love Jesus the lover can say, 'Get up and start moving freely again,' or 'Open your eyes and see again.'"
I have been privileged to watch Jesus do exactly this in Immanuel Prayer and Immanuel (Joyful) Journaling. When we who are hurting discover that Jesus is not only present to us in the midst of our pain but that he LOVES us there, is GLAD TO BE WITH US there, and totally UNDERSTANDS our experience from the inside, then we are opened to a profound healing that begins with being accepted and safe and ends with transformation from the inside out. Jesus intimately knows our broken selves. That very knowing begins the revelation of and restoration of our true selves. Thank God that He is not above shame or despair or fear or disgust but enters fully in!