The Leper and the High Priest, Matthew 8
Posted by adventbiblestudy on January 20, 2010
KJV Matthew 8:1. When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
Many authors have written about these verses. Most of them have put an emphasis on compiling a detailed list focusing on the medical aspect of leprosy. Others have loosely referenced Biblical terms concerning this illness. Unfortunately, most have neglected to reference the actual text, failing to give proper credit to the Author. Some of these comments have pointed out the social pains added to the physical pain. “And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.” KJV Leviticus 13:45-46.
Although aspects of this subject may be interesting, they fail to teach the spiritual lesson contained within this acted parable. By rule, any text illustrating a point or action beyond the normal physical laws of nature must contain a spiritual meaning. At the time this text was written there were very few people healed from leprosy. The Bible makes it very clear, this would be considered a miracle.
KJV 2 Kings 5:14. Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. 15. And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.
How do we unlock the spiritual meaning? To unlock the spiritual meaning we first identify the key words. In this case the answer is elementary. The first key word identified is leper. The next step is to compare text containing the word leper. This leads us to Leviticus 14 which contains a very strange ceremony. This is our second clue. Whenever God introduces a ceremony which may seem strange to most people it will of course contain a simple explanation, explained only by the word of God.
Thousands have commented on this simple acted parable and most have failed to recognize the rules of interpretation contained within this parable.
KJV Leviticus 14:2. This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest: 3. And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper;
KJV Leviticus 14: 13. And he shall slay the lamb in the place where he shall kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the holy place: for as the sin offering is the priest’s, so is the trespass offering: it is most holy: 14. And the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and the priest shall put it upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot:
KJV Leviticus 14: 17. And of the rest of the oil that is in his hand shall the priest put upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot, upon the blood of the trespass offering: 18. And the remnant of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall pour upon the head of him that is to be cleansed: and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord. 19. And the priest shall offer the sin offering, and make an atonement for him that is to be cleansed from his uncleanness; and afterward he shall kill the burnt offering: 20. And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the meat offering upon the altar: and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and he shall be clean.
Anyone who has read through the Bible should realize they have read this ceremony before. This is the point in a study when the Holy Spirit begins to establish His presence. A faithful follower of God’s word will have a small voice within them, directing them to look further. A devout student of the word will find the missing piece of this puzzle by allowing the Spirit to lead, dedicating a little time and conducting a simple search.
Common sense will indicate, there is something strange about putting blood on the right ear, thumb and big toe. It should be obvious, these are key words demanding additional study. A simple search will reveal a similar ceremony recorded in Exodus.
KJV Exodus 29: 1. And this is the thing that thou shalt do unto them to hallow them, to minister unto me in the priest’s office: take one young bullock, and two rams without blemish,
KJV Exodus 29:19. And thou shalt take the other ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram. 20. Then shalt thou kill the ram, and take of his blood, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.
This should now make perfect sense. Our diligent search has revealed the spiritual meaning behind Jesus’ healing of a leper. When this leper presented himself before the priests, they knew they had to perform a ceremony. Most likely they have never performed this ceremony. They had no choice but to look to the scriptures for an answer. Point number one. Jesus’ parables are designed to lead people back to the word.
Imagine the expression on their faces as the priests realized, the ceremony they must now perform for a leper is the same ceremony performed for a priest, the high priest. This put the priests at a cross roads. They could either follow the voice of the Holy Spirit and the scriptures which clearly show God sees no difference between a leper in rags and the high priest. Or they could become enraged at yet another miracle performed by Jesus. They could refuse to perform the ceremony based on the fact, in the eyes of the people, this would put a leper on the same level as the high priest.
God has His own way of teaching a lesson, of reaching out.