1 Peter 2:24-25
24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
Years ago I worked with a young, beautiful gal who had a slight limp and, on long days, required a cane or a seat. Had I not worked with her everyday I might not even had noticed this about her. On inquiry, she told me that her parents were horribly neglectful people in her early developmental years before her grandparents stepped in and raised her. She was born with hip dysplasia, a common enough issue that babies heal from if given medical attention. But that’s just it: this gal’s parents never took her to any follow-up appointments, regular pediatric checkups, nothing at all. As a result her hip socket fused abnormally. Grandma and Grandpa were able to take her years later to receive surgeries and medical care, allowing her to live the life of a “normal” teenager and young adult. But the question I bring up today is this: was she healed?
- (of a person or treatment) Cause (a wound, injury, or person) to become sound or healthy again: “a healing effect on the body”.
- Become sound or healthy again.
Keep this definition in mind as we take a look at these closing verses of 1 Peter chapter two, which speaks about Christ:
24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
Like any good semicolon in a sentence, it is there for a reason: the thoughts are connected. “His wounds” were in fact the “sins He bore in His body on the cross.” The healing promised to us here does not come from a time Jesus tripped and skinned his knee playing with his brothers or hit his finger with a hammer learning the carpentry trade. The wounds that are rich with healing for you and I, come from none other than His brutal crucifixion, carrying the sins of all mankind on His shoulders.
That said, in what way are we healed? The verse itself gives answer: “that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” While “sin” and “righteousness” have become tired, religious words over the centuries, the meaning behind them is still relevant: one is a life of harm and destruction; the other a life of healthiness and right-living. By Christ’s wounds, we are able to stop a life of harm and destruction and begin on a new track of “rightness.”
Have you ever had the wheel alignment off in your car? It always happens so gradually, too. I almost never notice until every few seconds I’m jerking the steering wheel just to keep coasting forward. There’s a drag to it, that pulls you off course. You could say, a car with the wheel alignment off is “living to go sideways.” If I take it to the mechanic and said mechanic was a little weird and spoke in Biblical terminology, he could say, “I have healed your wheel alignment. It is now dead to going sideways and alive to going straight.” Likewise, Christ’s death gave us power to die to a life of harm and destruction and alive to healthiness and right-living.
Unlike my car at the mechanic, though, my co-worker’s doctors and surgeons could not truly say to her, “I have healed your hip issues” because, while they were able to do something wonderful for her, her hip was not truly restored to the functionary design of a hip bone in socket joint. This is certainly not a critique on what she received from her grandparents and doctors. It’s just that I think we sometimes equate the spiritual healing we receive in Christ to this imperfect sort of “healing.” My co-worker was undoubtedly changed for the better, forever. But not healed. Not according to the basic definition of healing, “to become sound or healthy again.” There is a return to the previous, good and right state. Spiritually speaking, we call this state righteousness.
It isn’t easy to believe sometimes, but long ago humankind was right in every way. We know deep in our bones this is who we really are, without ever having to be told. Though our “wheel alignment” is off, we don’t have to believe in Christ to intuitively know that it is off. Though the drag is subtle, I think we’re all familiar with the need to jerk the steering wheel of our lives away somehow. We humans want to be good, to do good, to create, to help one another, to love deeply and be loved, to be brave, to be healthy, to live a life of true substance. We want these things because it is who we really are: image-bearers of a good, creative, helpful, deeply loving and loved, brave, healthy-minded God of true substance. We were born to be the moon reflecting the sun; to shine so brightly in our beautiful humanity that it reflects the One who breathed us into existence. The fact that this does not come as naturally as breathing in and out, shows a need for healing. We need not be simply changed. We as humans need to be returned to our true selves. We ache to be “made healthy again.”
The next verse, 1 Peter 2:25, lays out so beautifully what this spiritual healing means:
25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
The next time you hear a song or a person quote “by His wounds you were healed” or you are reminded in some other way of the healing Christ provides, remember that it speaks to a return to who you rightly are. Because of Christ, we now have the restoration necessary to live as humans were meant to really live. Like the old hymn goes, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”