The Man With Leprosy
When He came down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. Behold, a leper came to Him and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if You want to, You can make me clean."
Jesus stretched out His hand, and touched him, saying, “I want to. Be made clean." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Jesus said to him, "See that you tell nobody, but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift thathat Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
Why was Jesus so willing, even eager, to heal the leper?
And when He had come down from the mountain… Matthew now returns to the course of the history. He had formerly said that Christ went up into a mountain, (verse 1) then he threw, as it were, into one heap, many leading points of the doctrine of Christ; and now he adds that, about the time when He preached on the mountain, He healed a certain leper.
The same event is related by Mark and Luke, though they do not mention the time. It was a striking display of the divine power of Christ, that, by His word alone and a touch of His hand, He suddenly cleansed the man’s leprosy. Now, though leprosy was a different kind of disease from elephantiasis, (ἐλεφαντίασις) it is plain enough that it was difficult to cure. When it had continued long and become deeply seated, it rarely happened that any person recovered. Granting that physicians might, by their professional skill, have given some relief, it is manifest that there was nothing human about this miracle.
Approaching, worshipped… What is the meaning of the verb προσκυνεῖν, which is rendered in the Latin version, adorare, to adore or worship, may be easily learned from this passage. For the exposition of it we may rely on the other two Evangelists, of whom Mark says, that he fell on His knees, and Luke, that he fell down on His face. The outward gesture of kneeling was exhibited by the leper as a token of reverence. Now we know that such marks of respect were in general use among the Jews, as the people of the East are more addicted to that kind of ceremonies. Many people accordingly think, that the leper did not intend to render to Christ divine worship, but gave Him a respectful salutation as a distinguished prophet of God.
There is no dispute as to the feelings which moved the leper to pay reverence to Christ. But what he attributed to Him, that He was able to cleanse him, if He were willing By these words he declared, that he acknowledged a divine power in Christ: and when Christ replies, I am willing, he shows that he claimed more for himself than belongs to man. He, who, by the mere expression of His will, restores health to men, must possess supreme authority. Whether the leper believed that Christ was the Son of God, or that He had received this power in the same manner as Moses and the other prophets, he entertains no doubt that He held in His hand, and in His power, the gift of healing. True, he speaks conditionally, if thou art willing, thou art able but this is not inconsistent with that certainty of faith, which God demands in our prayers: for men ought not to expect more than God promises. The leper had not learned by any inspired communication, or any promise of God, what Christ would do. It would have been improper in him, therefore, to go beyond these limits for though we sometimes read that certain persons prayed without any condition, we ought to believe that they were guided by special movements of the Spirit, which must not be taken for a general rule. We are not certain to say, strictly speaking, that the leper offered a prayer. He only declares, that he is so fully convinced of the power of Christ, as to entertain no doubt that it is in His power to cure leprosy; and then presents himself to be healed, but uncertain as to the result, because he did not yet know the will of Christ.
Having stretched out His hand, he touched… Under the Law, the touch of a leper was infectious; but as Christ possesses such purity as to repel all filth and defilement, He does not, by touching, either pollute Himself with leprosy, or become a transgressor of the law. When He took upon Him our flesh, He did not only deign to touch as with His hand, but was united to one and the same body with ourselves, that we might be flesh of His flesh, (Genesis 2:23.) Nor did He only stretch out His arm to us, but descended from heaven even to hell, and yet contracted no stain from it, but, retaining His innocence, took away all our impurities, and sprinkled us with His holiness. By His word alone He might have healed the leper; but He applied, at the same time, the touch of His hand, to express the feeling of compassion. Nor ought this to excite our wonder, since He chose to take upon Him our flesh, that He might cleanse us from our sins. The stretching out of His hand was therefore an expression and token of infinite grace and goodness. What we indolently read, and coldly pass by, cannot be duly weighed without great astonishment. The Son of God was so far from disdaining to talk to a leper, that He even stretched out His hand to touch that uncleanness.
And Jesus saith to him, See that thou tell it not to anyone Some persons, by way of excusing the leper, think that Christ did not seriously forbid Him to publish the miracle, but rather gave Him an additional excitement to do so. Others more justly consider the reason of the prohibition to have been, that the full “time was not yet come,” (John 7:6.) We acknowledge, that to have suppressed this miracle would have been improper: but our Lord had a particular reason for wishing that the report of it should not be immediately spread, or, at least, not by the leper The leper was so far from deserving praise for the disorderly exhibition of his regard, that he ought to be condemned for not obeying Christ’s injunction. If he wished to express his gratitude to Him to whom he was indebted for his cure, no better method could have been found than obedience, which God prefers to all sacrifices, (1 Samuel 15:22,) and which is the origin and foundation of lawful worship. This example shows us, that those who allow themselves to be guided by inconsiderate zeal act improperly, because the more eager they are to please God, the greater progress do they make in rebellion to His commands.
Show thyself to the priest… As the ceremonies of the law had not yet been repealed, Christ did not wish that they should be despised or neglected. Now, God had commanded in the law that, if any man had been cleansed from leprosy, he should present himself to the priest with a sacrifice of thanksgiving, (Leviticus 14:2.) The design was that the priest, by his decision, might attest the benefit received from God; and that the person who had been healed might give an expression of his gratitude. Christ, therefore, by sending the leper to the priest, proves that He had no other object in view than to display the glory of God. The showing to the priest was for the purpose of examination, and the offering was the expression of thanksgiving. He wishes that the priests should examine the man, to make the divine favor manifest and undoubted; and that the leper, on the other hand, should acknowledge that God had healed him. Meanwhile, He commands them to observe the ceremonies prescribed by the law, till the time when it should be repealed.
Some authors feel that Christian Catholics use this passage, as an authority for their own confession. They feel they allege Leprosy, is put allegorically for sin; and the priests, who are consecrated, are the judges of spiritual leprosy. Even granting that this authority was conferred on the priests under the law, for the purpose of informing the people, that all their cleanness, and the decision respecting it, depended on the priesthood, still this is impiously claimed for themselves by the priests. The entire honor that belonged to the ancient priests is now claimed by Christ alone as His own. He alone is appointed to be the judge of spiritual leprosy, and entitled to receive, from those who have been cured, the offering for their cleansing. Under the law, a sacrifice was employed as the seal of cleanness, because satisfaction made by the shedding of blood is the only way in which men are cleansed. To transfer to another that right, which God has declared to be the prerogative of His own Son, might be a detestable sacrilege. When the ministers of the Gospel, by the command of Christ, declare to sinners that they are cleansed from their sins, this must not be tortured into the pretended jurisdiction, which the priests imagine, of pronouncing a decision about leprosy.
Matthew 8:4; Mark 1:44. For a testimony to them Some consider testimony to mean here a law or statute, as it is said in the Book of Psalms, God laid down this “for a testimony to Israel,” (Psalm 122:4.) But this appears to be a poor exposition, since the pronoun to them refers to the priests. Christ perhaps said this with a view to the present occurrence: for this miracle was afterwards to be a sufficiently clear proof for convicting them of ingratitude. There is nothing inconsistent with this in the command which Christ gave to the leper to maintain silence: for He did not intend that the remembrance of the miracle which He had wrought should remain always buried. When the leper, at the command of Christ, came into the presence of the priest, this was a testimony to them, which would render them inexcusable, if they refused to receive Christ as the minister of God; and would, at the same time, take away occasion for slander, since Christ did not neglect a single point of the law. In a word, if they were not past cure, they might be led to Christ; while, on the other hand, so solemn a testimony of God was sufficiently powerful to condemn them, if they were unbelievers.
Mark 1:45. So that Jesus could no longer enter openly into cities Hence we learn the reason why Christ did not wish the miracle to be so soon made known. It was that He might have more abundant opportunity and freedom for teaching. Not that His enemies rose against Him, and attempted to shut His mouth, but because the common people were so eager to demand miracles, that no room was left for doctrine. He wished that they would all be more attentive to the word than to signs. Luke accordingly says, that He sought retirement in the deserts He avoided a crowd of men, because He saw, that He would not satisfy the wishes of the people, without overwhelming His doctrine by a superfluity of miracles.
Father, guide and protector of your people, grant us an unfailing respect for Your name, and keep us always in Your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Matthew 8, 1-4: “After Jesus had come down from the mountain large crowds followed him. Suddenly a man with a virulent skin-disease came up and bowed low in front of him, saying, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can cleanse me.' Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him saying, 'I am willing. Be cleansed.' And his skin-disease was cleansed at once. Then Jesus said to him, 'Mind you tell no one, but go and show yourself to the priest and make the offering prescribed by Moses, as evidence to them.'”
In chapters 5 to 7 we have heard the words of the New Law proclaimed on the Mountain by Jesus. Now, in chapters 8 and 9, Matthew indicates how Jesus put into practice that which He had just taught. In Mt 8, 1-4 and, later Mt 8, 5-17, we see closely the following episodes which reveal how Jesus practiced the Law: the cure of a leper (Mt 8, 1-4), the cure of the servant of the Roman soldier (Mt 8, 5-13), the cure of Peter’s mother-in law (Mt 8, 14-15) and the cure of numerous sick people (Mt 8, 14-17).
Matthew 8, 1-2: The leper asks: “Lord, if You are willing You can cleanse me”. A leper comes close to Jesus. He was one who was excluded. Anybody who would touch him would remain unclean! This is why the lepers had to remain far away (Lv 13, 45-46). But that leper had great courage. He transgresses the norms of religion in order to be able to enter into contact with Jesus. Getting close to Him he says: If You are willing You can cleanse me! That is: “It is not necessary for You to touch me! It suffices that the Lord wants it and he will be cured”. This phrase reveals two things: 1) the sickness of leprosy which made people unclean; 2) the sickness of solitude to which the person was condemned, separated from society and from religion. It reveals also the great faith of the man in the power of Jesus.
Matthew 8, 3: Jesus touches him and says: I am willing. Be cleansed. Filled with compassion, Jesus cures two sicknesses. In the first place, in order to cure solitude, loneliness, before saying any word, He touches the leper. It is as if He would say: “For Me, you are not excluded. I am not afraid to become unclean by touching you! And I accept you as a brother!” Then He cures the leper saying: I am willing! Be cleansed! The leper, in order to be able to enter in contact with Jesus, had transgressed the norms of the Law. Thus Jesus, in order to help that excluded person and reveal the new face of God, transgresses the norms of his religion and touches the leper.
Matthew 8, 4: Jesus orders the man to go and show himself to the priest. At that time, a leper in order to be reintegrated into the community needed a certificate of healing confirmed by the priest. It is the same thing today. The sick person gets out of the hospital only if he has a certificate signed by the doctor of the department. Jesus obliges the person to look for that document, in order to be able to live normally. He obliges the authority to recognize that the man had been cured. Jesus not only heals but wants the healed person to be able to live with others. He reintegrates the person in the fraternal life of the community. The Gospel of Mark adds that the man did not present himself to the priest. Instead, “He went away and started freely proclaiming and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into the town, but stayed outside in deserted places (Mk 1, 45). Why could Jesus no longer enter openly into the town? Because he had touched the leper and had become unclean before the religious authority who embodied the law of that time. And now, because of this, Jesus was unclean and had to be away far from everybody. He could no longer enter into the city. But Mark shows that people cared very little for these official norms, because people came to Jesus from all pats! This was totally overthrowing things! The message which Mark gives us is the following: In order to take the Good News of God to the people, we should not be afraid to transgress the religious norms which are contrary to God’s project and which prevent a fraternal spirit and love. Even if this causes some difficulty to the people, as it did to Jesus.
In Jesus everything is revelation of what He has within Himself! He does not only announce the Good News of the Kingdom. He is an example, a living witness of the Kingdom, a revelation of God. In Him appears what happens when a human being allows God to reign, allows God to occupy the centre of his life.
• In the name of the Law of God, the lepers were excluded and they could not live with others. In our Church are there norms and customs which are not written and, which up until now, marginalize persons and exclude them from living together with others and from communion. Do you know any such persons? Which is your opinion concerning this?
• Jesus had the courage to touch the leper. Would you have this courage?
I will bless Yahweh at all times, His praise continually on my lips.
I will praise Yahweh from my heart; let the humble hear and rejoice. (Ps 34, 1-2)
For the leper to obtain his healing, he had to seek out where Jesus was. When he found Jesus the very first thing he did was to worship Him. The leper did not ask for healing right away, but worshiped Him. Then he asked to be healed if it was Jesus' will, and said he believed Jesus can heal him. Even though the leper knew Jesus could heal Him, he did not know the will of God. He did not have the Bible. What he would have known from the Torah was what the Pharisees taught. He may have seen Jesus heal others and/or heard Jesus speak. We do not know if the leper only heard about Jesus, witnessed a healing from a distance, or was standing on the outskirts of the crowd on the Mount of Olives. All this leper knew is that Jesus can heal. Because he did not know the will of God, he asked Jesus if it be thy will heal me. Note that he did not command Jesus to heal him, but asked to be healed.
Jesus responded "I will", and healed the leper. Was this the will of God just for the leper, or for everybody? From Jesus' ministry throughout the Bible, there is not a place where He ever turned down someone when they asked Him, and told Him that they believed that He could heal them. He did not even have to be touching the person or be in their presence to heal them. This can be seen in the next verses about the centurion asking for a servant's healing. It is God's will to heal everyone who asks Him, and believes that He can heal them.
Today many pray to God, if it is your will. The problem is that we know the will of God through His word. All we need to do to know what the will of God is to study God's word. Most people do not even read the Bible. They are lucky enough to crack open the Bible during church service. Then they expect to know everything just from hearing the sermons once a week. Hearing the Word builds faith, but reading the Word gives you personal knowledge and realization of what the Bible is saying. When we know the will of God, we can pray confidently knowing our prayers are in the will of God, and that God will answer them.
The other thing interesting here is in verse 4 where Jesus tells the leper to tell no one that He healed Him. First we know that the crowd followed Jesus off the mountain in Matthew 8:1. It takes a crowd awhile to dissipate especially when they are following the speaker. When Jesus gave the instruction to the leper, there was already the crowd of people around them who saw Jesus heal the leper. In verse 4, Jesus only gave the instruction to the leper, and not the entire crowd that was there with them. Why did Jesus give the instruction to the leper not to tell anyone knowing there were others around watching and listening to what was happening? More than likely a few in the crowd would spread the word about the miracle.
This may go back to Jesus' earlier teaching while on the Mount of Olives in Matthew 6:1-6 and Matthew 6:18. Here Jesus taught to do things in secret. Jesus was not able to perform this miracle in secret being out in the open with many people around Him. Jesus would not be afraid of drawing a bigger crowd to Him, since there were people in the crowd who more than likely went and told as many as they could. Then this principle of doing things in secret, do not boast to others, and you will be rewarded was directly for the leper when Jesus told Him to tell no one. Jesus may not have wanted to be boasted about. Even though He was the divine Son of God, He was also human. If the leper did not receive that instruction, he may have gotten so side tracked with telling all he could about the miracle, that he might not have made it to the priest and offered the gifts Moses commanded.
WHEN MY WORSHIP AND HIS WILLINGNESS COLLIDE!
It is difficult to imagine what it would have been like for the man in Matthew 8:2, as he waited for Jesus to come down from the mountain. If we ever think we have no friends and we have been alienated, we need to read this short story about the man healed by Jesus of leprosy. Leprosy has a stigma attached to it like AIDS.
Jesus finally finishes His Leadership Training course with His disciples on the mountain, and He comes down to the people who have gathered. What about His disciples? Were they ready? Not in our terms anyway. Maybe a further 2 years training in a Theological College and then an ordination service. Then maybe further training as Youth Pastors for a while. That would probably qualify them to be able to pray for people.
No, there's no Bachelor of Theological Understanding or Masters of Healing here. It's just the Master Healer at work and Jesus thinks they are ready to observe Him at work. His curriculum is simple: INFORMATION, OBSERVATION, APPLICATION, and LISTEN TO THE TEACHING, WATCH HOW IT'S DONE AND THEN DO IT YOURSELF. Some practical on-the-job training, after His teaching on the mountain.
There comes a time when courses and preparation and information are enough and you simply get on with putting into practice. You apply what you know and as you do the work of ministry, Jesus teaches you even more along the way.
Jesus believed in solid Bible teaching. Otherwise His disciples wouldn't have spent time being mentored by Him on the mountain. But His teaching and application is about half and half. HALF DOCTRINE (Oh, we don't like that word, but let's get over it because Jesus did teach the doctrines of the Word of God. Then HALF APPLICATION. He didn't just tack on the application part on the end of every message. He actually lived it and put it into action and got His disciples involved.
Jesus was popular. Large crowds followed Him, and had obviously been waiting for a long time since chapter 5 to hear Him speak. Before He got the opportunity to speak "... a man with leprosy approached Him and knelt before Him.”Lord," the man said, "If You are willing, You can heal me and make me clean." The man wasn't asking for a bath but by law, if a person had leprosy, they were called "UNCLEAN". William Barclay says that leprosy was the worst of diseases in Jesus' time and it was greatly feared. It was disfiguring and sometimes fatal (The Gospel of Matthew, Vol.1, p.300).
He believed that Jesus could not only heal him physically, but also take away the stigma and label of being unclean socially. Jesus didn't say "Wait until I've finished preaching and I'll call you up for prayer." What is it with Jesus? He doesn't seem to have a proper order of service? He seems more needs
Jesus Heals a Leper
With this passage, we start a series of nine stories and ten of our Lord's miracles (8:1-9:36). These miracles serve as the proof of Christ's claims, that He is the promised Messiah who will save us from our sins (Isa. 35:4-6; 1 Cor. 1:22). As God, He has power over sickness, demons, nature, and death, and because He does, this proves Christ is Lord over all and Lord over our lives. Therefore, we can have faith in and trust Him in all things. Each of the three Synoptic Gospels has these events recorded but in different order due to the audience to which they were written. Mathew was written to Jews, so he records the events in order of topic, as was common in Jewish teaching. Mark arranges them in order of significance and Luke places them in chronological order for his logically thinking Greek audience.
In this passage, Jesus is walking down from His Sermon on the Mount into the valley below, and is mobbed by the people. In the midst of all this, a person who was a social outcast greets Him. This man was suffering from a bad skin infection and decided to cut across his social status to both humble himself and be bold enough to go the great Teacher for the possibility of a healing. He receives his healing; his social status is also healed, all in accordance to the law and the grace that is to come.
1. Great multitudes were a major problem in the eyes of the Romans who viewed crowds and uprisings as a threat to social stability. They would quickly squash them.
a. Worshiped Him meant that he knelt in honor, although he probably did not realize Jesus' true divinity.
b. Lord is an address for Sir, such as a monarch or respected leader, but not referring to His deity or to Him as God. Jesus is called God in other passages (see our article on the Names of Jesus).
c. This act required great faith (Matt 4:24). He had confidence in Jesus' healing power, but was afraid he would be passed by because of his social status as an outcast.
d. The leper dared not go near to Jesus, so Jesus reaches out to Him, a reflection on the fact that we cannot draw near to God, so, He has to come to us, reach out, and rescue us.
2. Leprosy was a severe skin disease where the nervous system would break down, and one would lose the ability to feel and touch. Thus, one's appendages would succumb to great wear, and even fall off. Now it is called Hanson's Disease. However, this passage uses a different word than normally used for lepers. The word implies general skin diseases from acne to boils, not the heinous leprosy where the person had to leave all contact with others until they died or were healed (Lev. 13:45-46), although few, if any, were healed. But, even a skin disease would cause a person to become an outcast to others-, even their family-, for fear the village people would get it also.
a. Lepers were social outcasts and people would stay far away from them because of great fear (Lev. 13:45-46). So, the leper approaches Jesus with humility, just as we all should. At the same time, he was bold to approach Him. We have to be humble before the Lord, yet bold to proclaim our faith, and passionate in our desire to worship Him.
i. Touching a leper was strictly forbidden for fear of contagion and what God had decreed (Lev. 5:3). It was taboo! The Jews who followed the Law were clean and free from the many scourges and diseases over the millenniums, including the Back Death in the Middle Ages that took over one-third of the population of Europe. All because of good hygiene! So, make sure you wash as your mom told you to!
ii. Jesus remains pure to the law by the leper's immediate restoration and the later confirmation by the local official priests (Lev. 13-14).
iii. Jesus followed the precepts of the law by telling him to show himself to the priest (Lev. 14:1-32). He honored the Law, which He later fulfilled and became our ultimate High Priest (Heb. 7:11-8:13).
iv. The healing of a leper, or any person ostracized from society, gives us a beautiful picture of redemption and grace, and how God accepts us when we do not deserve it.
v. Some Jewish leaders taught that leprosy was the result of a person's sin of slandering someone, as Miriam did with Moses' new wife (Num. 12:1-10). The Bible does not give the cause other than not having good hygiene.
b. Only a mighty prophet has ever done such a deed (2 Kings 5:14).
3. Tell no one seems like a strange thing to say. The Romans feared crowds, and our Lord was frequently mobbed by them, potentially distracting Him from His true purpose. Who that preaches would desire secrecy? But Jesus had a good reason. If the word got out to too many people about the healings, people would be seeking a show, or a healing, without seeking Him. Miracle seekers would dominate His time so the real, necessary message would not have the opportunity to get out. Jesus does not want to be known as a wonder performer so that the people would push Him into the "Messiah-ship" role for political or materialistic reasons. Rather, His authority comes from God alone. He did not come to drive out the Romans, a temporary solution, but to give us redemption, a permanent solution.
a. Mark records that this leper went about anyway, against Jesus' instructions, telling everyone. O, Jesus was so overwhelmed by the crowds He had to leave the region (Mark 1:45). There of course came a time to boldly proclaim who and what Christ did, and that was after the resurrection (Matt. 10:27; 28:16-20; Luke 12:2-3).
b. As a testimony, refers to Jesus' honor and respect of the Law. Jesus is not bound by or limited to the Law. Rather, He is the head of it, as the ultimate High Priest.
c. Jesus kept all of the Law and submitted to it in our place as part of our redemption. Here, a leper could not be touched, so Jesus cleansed him and touched him so the Law was not violated. The purpose of the Law was to show humanity's need for redemption and a Savior. It is not about guilt offerings (Lev. 14:10-18), but about the need for grace and the witness to others.
Jesus did not rally people to a cause, nor did He invoke us to political and materialistic agendas. He mainly draws Himself to us so we can know Him and make Him known. To be His disciple means personal, passionate devotion that contains the humbleness to surrender our will to Him and the boldness to proclaim Him. This will result with the response of our love and gratitude, glued with the faith to make it real, powered by the Holy Spirit so it is impacting upon you and flowing to others around you (Luke 14:26-27; 33; Rom. 5:5). How are you devoted to our Lord?
1. How do you respond to crowds, such as in a busy super market? How would you respond if the crowds were seeking you like a rock star or movie star?
2. How do miracles serve as the proof of Christ's claims?
3. Because Jesus is God, He has the power over sickness, demons, nature, and death. And, because He does, what does this mean to you and your faith?
4. How important is social status to you? How important is it to our Lord?
5. What is in your way of having faith and trust in Him in all things?
6. What are the various ways you like to worship God? What needs to take place for worship to be something that happens daily, not just on Sunday mornings?
7. What can you do to make your daily thoughts on God go from Sir to Lord?
8. How much confidence do you have in Christ to believe He will be there in your daily life?
9. Have you ever felt afraid that Jesus would pass you by and not seem to be helping, knowing, or loving you? How can you know that is not true?
10. How do you feel, and what would you do, when, or if, someone has a bad disease, such as Aids, and wants to touch you?
11. How would you handle a severe disease and/or being a social outcast? What would Christ mean to you then?
12. The Back Death in the Middle Ages that took over one-third of the population of Europe occurred because of bad hygiene. People were not washing, not disposing of garbage, which attracted rats and the fleas that carried the plague! The Jews took out the trash, practiced good hygiene, and were the only people group not affected by the plague. Hence, the saying that is not in the Bible, but the principle is, "cleanliness is next to godliness" (B. Franklin). So, how important should good hygiene be to a Christian?
13. Why did Jesus honor the Law? Why do so many Christians teach it is of no significance?
14. How do you feel about Jesus not wanting crowds?
15. Do you think that the people just seeking a show would distract from Jesus' main mission? Why, or why not?
16. What would the Christian faith be about if Jesus rallied people to a cause, and invoked us to political and materialistic agendas? What are the similarities to this way of thinking and what some popular Bible teachers are proclaiming?
17. What if Jesus did come to drive out the Romans, what good would it be for the millions of followers in the 1900+ years since?
18. What do you need to do to approach Jesus with humility?
19. What do you need to do to be bolder in your faith?
20. What do you need to do to be more passionate in your worship of Jesus?
Matt. 8:1-4 - Salvation for the Untouchables: To help in understanding leprosy, think about the last neat freak you've met. You know the feeling that something is dirty and you don't want to touch it; that is what leprosy was, and the Lord used it to show that is what sin is like. One commentator said "Sin is the leprosy of the soul."
What would make Jesus do what He did in this passage?
The Untouchable Leper vv. 1-2. Matthew first tells us about the untouchable leper.
Text: 1 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. 2 And behold, a leper came to Him and knelt before Him, saying, "Lord, if You will, You can make me clean."
Leprosy: Leprosy was a bodily disease. A "spreading disease," according to Lev. 13:27, 57. It was a result of the fall. Leprosy also included sanitary but symbolic conditions. If leprosy covered the whole body, then a person was clean! (Lev. 13:12-13)
The spread of leprosy symbolized the active power of evil in sin and death. The symbolic separation of unclean lepers from the clean community symbolized separation from God, from holiness, and from life. Sin is the leprosy of the soul.
Leprosy was sometimes a mark of God's particular displeasure for a particular sin. Miriam, Gehazi, and Uzziah each were stricken with leprosy for committing a single sin. It was also considered an ailment man's medicine could not cure, because when the king of Syria asked the king of Israel to cure Naaman of leprosy, the king of Israel exclaimed, "Am I God...to cure a man of his leprosy?" (2 Kings 5:7)
The Mosaic Cleanliness Law: Ostracized, Outcasts! The effect of the Mosaic cleanliness laws was that lepers became outcasts; they were ostracized.
Every leper had to cover his mouth when someone approached and call out "Unclean! Unclean!" If you were a leper you would have to tell people, "I'm dirty, don't touch me! Don't even come close! Leave me in my loneliness and misery."
Cleansing. The Mosaic Law in Lev. 13-14 provided a way for lepers to be cleansed. If God had healed them over time, they could be examined by a priest, present an offering to God to atone for their sins, and then be declared clean. Atonement for guilt!
Notice that this was a guilt offering, which made the leper ceremonially clean. But was the leper guilty for his leprosy? Not necessarily by means of his actual sins, but certainly by his original sin in Adam. Ceremonial uncleanliness is a picture of our guilt for our original and actual sin. Only if your guilt is removed can you be restored to the presence of God and communion with Him.
The scapegoat bird is like the scapegoat goat on the Day of Atonement! The dead bird means the uncleanness is dead and gone. The live bird means you are brought to new life. You're free to rejoice in life with God among His people.
The blood was put on the leper to symbolize a substitutionary atonement for the forgiveness of sins. It was even a "baptism" in blood, a baptism for the forgiveness of sins! Note that it was by means of dipping, and sprinkling, not immersion. But the word for "dip" in Lev. 14:16 is "bapto!" So "bapto" and "baptizo" don't always mean "immerse." They mean to dip, to wash, to wash by wetting.
Restoration & Worship: Notice also that these offerings brought about restoration and worship. The offerings are like the regular offerings which the leper could not have given when he was unclean. He couldn't offer them before, but now he can. What made the difference? God healed him of his leprosy. The priest didn't heal; God healed, then the priest investigated and confirmed that fact. But healing alone did not suffice for the leper to be restored. The leper also had to give an offering. The lamb was killed to symbolize atonement for the leper's guilt, and the offering was waved before the Lord to indicate it was a gift to God. Through the atonement you are restored to communion with God and the joy of worshiping Him.
But this leper could not enter God's temple; he couldn't even enter a city, unless God made him clean.
The Priest Who Heals v. 3
Text: 3 And Jesus stretched out His hand and touched Him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
"touched him" - The Priest who touches the sinner
First, Christ is the Priest who touches the sinner. Jesus touches the untouchable, and surprisingly, heals them! If Christ were an Old Testament priest, a mere man, He could not touch the leper, because that would make Him unclean. But because Christ was God, He was not polluted by the man's disease, his ceremonial uncleanness, or his sin. Christ healed the disease, removed the man's uncleanness, and cleansed him of his sin. Jesus is the only priest who can touch the sinner, and heal him.
Hebrews 10:1: For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.
Hebrews 10:14: For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
But Christ sends His church as He sent Paul in Acts 26:18, 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.
Will you tell a sinner that Christ can cleanse him from his sin? Peter confessed, "God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean." (Acts 10:28) If Christ touched the unclean, we must preach the good news of this Savior to all who will hear. He is the Priest who touches the sinner.
"I will" - The Priest who heals at will. Second, Christ is the Priest who heals at will.
In these simple words, "I will," we see so beautifully displayed Christ's tender mercy, His compassion, His grace and kindness.
Christ did not assign the leper to go and wash seven times, as Elisha commanded Naaman; no demanding ritual, no medicine, was needed. Christ healed the leper directly, by His will, by the word of His power. Like God's words at creation, Christ said what He would do, "and it was so." There was no need to pay Him; He healed free of charge. You should learn from this that He is able and willing not only to heal that leper, but to save sinners, of whom that leper was a picture.
You should call out to Jesus like this leper did. Ask Him, "Jesus will you cleanse me of my sin?" Don't you see what His answer is? "I will!" "All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved!" (Rom. 10:13) Jesus the Redeemer can save you when you call on Him because He is the all-powerful God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. Christ can be gracious to you, a sinner, because He is your sovereign Creator.
"Immediately...cleansed" - The Priest who needs no cleansing
And immediately the leper was healed, and more than that, "cleansed" of his ritual impurity. In this immediacy we hear a hint of Christ's own perfect purity. Once you are touched by Christ, you no longer need any other priest to cleanse you. The leper was not just healed; he was "cleansed." Christ still sends the leper to the priests in the temple to verify that he had been healed, so they could declare him clean, in order to keep the ceremonial law for the time being, because that law was still in effect. But Christ would fulfill that law, and thereby render it no longer necessary. The man was already clean, because Christ said so, and made him so.
In this we learn thirdly that Christ is the priest who needs no cleansing. He is a greater priest than any other because of His divinity—it is because He is God that He can touch the sinner and not become unclean, and that He can heal at will. But because He is God He also has no sin, and so needs no cleansing. By contrast the Levitical priests were sinners, so always had to cleanse themselves with washings, and make an offering for themselves before making an offering for someone else. But the first cleansing Jesus performs in the Gospel of Matthew is not for Himself. It is for the sinner who has no right to enter God's presence.
The Covenant of Peace v. 4. Christ came to establish with us what scripture calls the "covenant of peace." Though in the OT God did reconcile sinners to Himself through faith in the promised Messiah, in the NT God sent that Messiah Himself to accomplish that reconciliation in Himself, and to apply it in greater fullness and power through His Holy Spirit. With us this leper received "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. 5:1)
Text 4: And Jesus said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them."
"Tell no one...as a proof": Notice first the Messianic Secret is revealed to lepers and priests. To those who are a picture of sin, and those by whom God brings cleansing.
Surprisingly, Jesus says "tell no one." Jesus did not want the crowds to hinder His revelation of Himself, His preaching, or to prevent Him from dying on the cross. Jesus did not reveal Himself fully in all His glory all at once; rather He revealed Himself and His gospel gradually. In Matthew 10 He will send His disciples with the charge to proclaim the gospel freely: "What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops." (Matt. 10:27) But even that proclamation was for a limited time, in a limited place. Only after Pentecost would the gospel be ready to be proclaimed to the entire world. (Matt. 28:20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8)
Jesus tells the leper to keep the secret, but not to keep it from everyone. To whom should the leper tell the secret? The priests. "Show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them." The word for "proof" is "marturion," a witness, a testimony. A testimony to the priests. There are two kinds of testimony here. First, a proof that the leper was clean. Only by the priest declaring him "clean" could the leper take part in the worship of God and the fellowship of God's people. But second, this was a proof to the priests that Jesus is the Savior. God alone heals leprosy; the priest can only verify whether God healed the leper. But this leper was healed by Jesus. Jesus is telling the priests there is now a greater Priest walking in their midst who is the Savior.
Jesus is not so much keeping a secret here, but He is directing it to the right people. He reveals Himself to lepers and priests. To the outcast and the gatekeeper. And He tells them both, "I am the way" to the Father. (John 14:6) Sinner, come to Jesus, who says "whoever comes to Me I will never cast out." (John 6:37) Saint, don't think the key to heaven is in your pocket. Jesus says "I hold the keys" (Rev. 1:18); you've entered His kingdom because He gave you life (John 10:28; Eph. 2:5), and you'll stay there because He holds you in His hand. (John 10:28). Jesus is the Savior, whether you are a leper or a priest.
You are the leper. Your sin has separated you from God. You must call out to God to forgive you of your sin, because He can make you clean, if He wills. And praise be to God that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
The priests were to make peace between man and God. But you also are the priests. The priests were to make peace between man and God. Though Levi murdered in revenge, God made His tribe ministers of reconciliation. God says "My covenant with him was one of life and peace." (Mal. 2:5)
When Phinehas the priest obediently made atonement for God's people, in Numbers 25:9 God gave to him and his descendants His "covenant of peace;" peace with God and the honor of reconciling men to God.
In Ezekiel 34 God promised that though the priests would fail to shepherd God's people, God Himself would shepherd them in the person of Jesus Christ, and thereby would make with them a "covenant of peace." (v. 25) In Ezekiel 37 God promised that in the New Covenant, when He would establish His covenant of peace (v. 26) with them, "They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God." (v. 23)
God has made you a kingdom of priests (Rev. 1:6; 5:10) and a holy nation, "to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 2:5) You are no longer an outcast, but God claims you as "a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the Excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." (1 Pet. 2:9) God "through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." (2 Cor. 5:18)
You are the leper, and you are the priest, in this story. Once you were untouchable, but Christ touched you and made you whole. And now He sends you to proclaim that good news "throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations." (Matt. 24:14) To the Gentiles. Those who once were ceremonially unclean. Those who still are sinners. Even who have an infectious disease, they're sinning against you. They will hurt you. But they will be healed by Jesus Christ, who lives in you. So Christ tells you in Matt. 10:26 "Have no fear of them." Let it be only the love of Christ that constrains you (2 Cor. 5:14), "that [you] who live might no longer live for [yourselves] but for Him who for [your] sake died and was raised." (v. 15) By healing this leper, Christ calls you to receive this blessing of discipleship, to receive and to pass on the ministry of reconciliation. That reconciliation is the first blessing of discipleship.
So the leper could go forward and show the people that the messages that Moses was giving to the people were in fact, messages from God.
To prove to him that God has power over sickness.
His compassion for the leper
Jesus was willing to heal the leper because he was a sinful man and had the faith and courage to ask Jesus to heal him, also Jesus came to heal the sick and bring the unrighteous to know God.
Because a leper was seen as a sinful person, he was to stay away from the other people during that time. In fact, he was rejected by others. He thought even Jesus would reject him. He believed Jesus could heal him. Jesus didn’t reject anyone. He loved everyone, therefore He healed the leper.
Leprosy was a very bad illness in those days and you were not aloud to touch these people. But JESUS show with believe in GOD you can do anything.
Because he is the healer of mankind, merciful one with him all things are safe
Jesus came to heal and save us and because of this man's faith and belief in Jesus.
Jesus came to save us and heal us. He wants everyone to be saved and cleansed of all sins or uncleanliness. It was also the faith the leper had that helped heal him. We too should ask in faith to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Because it was to fulfill the work of Christ on earth as lepers were considered unclean
Leprosy was an incurable disease, and one which a priest MUST pronounce as clean before the healed leper could be welcomed back into the community. The priests must acknowledge that Jesus had great power and authority to cleanse this disease. They must see His compassion and goodness and love. They must recognize how this fulfills prophecy, therefore, they would have to recognize Him as the Christ and be saved. As others have also said, it would strengthen their faith.
The leper asks with his heart, letting Jesus decide what was good for him.
Jesus was so willing , even eager, to heal the leper because he realized that the Leper recognized who he was - the son of the living God - also the Leper's humble appeal to him was an expression of faith that moved Jesus to heal him.
Jesus is love, He had love for this leper and more so the leper had faith in Jesus that He can heal him, Jesus saw this faith and He granted him his prayer.
JESUS could feel what the leper was feeling, HE could see his heart, that’s why HE was eager to heal the leper
Jesus had compassion with the sick and the needy at the same time He wanted to prove to the priests that He is the son of God and He had the power to heal the sick.
Jesus was a lover of all. He had no hatred for anybody and was ever ready to help one and all. So Jesus was willing to heal the leper because of his faith and more over because the leper asked if he could heal him. Jesus would never hurt anybody so he healed the leper.
Everyone who has faith in Jesus is a member of His kingdom. Jesus also felt compassion for the leper
Because he loves those that love and obey him. There is nothing too hard for God. We are his children; he is always eager and willing to do for his children, if it is his will.
Jesus is love, He want to help all those who have faith in him, He also wanted to send a message to all people that He came to save mankind to inherit everlasting life
Jesus was so willing, even eager, to heal the leper because at that time, leprosy was a contagious disease that nobody can heal. In that scenario, He can make the priest and let the people believe that He is the Son of God.
By: Gregorio Magdaleno
Category: The Man With Leprosy