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Matthew 8:1-4: Jesus Heals a Leper

Posted by adventbiblestudy on October 2, 2011


Matthew 8:1-4 MKJV When He had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. (2) And behold, a leper came and worshiped him, saying, Lord, if You will, You can make me clean. (3) And Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, I will; be clean! And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (4) And Jesus said to him, See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest. And offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.

 

 

After Jesus finished His sermon on the mountain, teaching God’s commandments in the manner in which they were meant to be taught, the people praised His teaching saying, “He wasn’t like the teachers of the Law; instead, he taught with authority.(Matthew 7:29 GNB)

As Jesus made His way down from the steep mountain accompanied by a very large group of His followers touched by His message, they were met by small groups of people making their way up to hear Jesus speak. Jesus’ attention was drawn to a commotion in the distance. As He approached the scene the small crowd’s attention was drawn to Jesus. Immediately Jesus could feel something was wrong. The Spirit kept leading Jesus forward as some of the people in the crowd were attempting to redirect His path. Jesus gently moved aside one person after another until reaching the other side of the group where He found a man wrapped in rags and smelling of death. Clearly this man was a leper. Jesus instantly understood why some of the people tried to keep Him away. They did not understand His mission, power, or grace.

Keeping His distance, the leper immediately fell to his knees. Breaking into prayer the leper pleaded for mercy. “Son of David, I ask you for mercy from the most high and infinite God, Creator of all Heaven and earth. Lord, if You will, You can make me clean.

With compassion in His eyes, Jesus began to approach the leper. Mummers and gasps could be heard from the crowd as Jesus neared the broken and wasted man in front of Him. Some tried to cry out a warning to Jesus, but their voices were stopped by unseen angels gathered among the people. Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean!

Silence fell over the mountain side as the leper slumped down, Jesus’ hand still upon his shoulder. After a few seconds, still in a kneeling position the leper straightened up. Jesus put his hand under the lepers arm helping him up. Once standing, the leper began removing the rag wrapped about his head and face. There was no sign of leprosy. Jesus helped him unwrap his hands, which appeared as strong and fresh as any man’s hands. Upon examining his hands the leper raised them into the air in a sign of praise to God. Feeling renewed energy in his muscles and joints, he quickly moved about the crowd in a large circular pattern to share his joy with everyone in sight. Much to his surprise, the people still moved away from him much like they had before he was healed. They just could not believe what had happened before their eyes.

At the end of his circle he came face to face with Jesus, the only smiling face in sight. The two couldn’t help but embrace. Jesus whispered in his ear, “See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest. And offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.” Upon hearing Jesus’ command, the newly created man turn and left.

 

Many authors have written about the leper. Most writers 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 original Author and Healer. Some of the comments on the leper have pointed out the social pains and how they 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 lesson. Before this text was written there were very few people healed from leprosy. The Bible makes it clear, this should have been received as a great miracle.

How do we unlock the spiritual lesson in the story of the leper Jesus healed? 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 other texts containing the word leper. This leads us to Leviticus 14 which describes what appears to be 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.

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 has 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 to conduct 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. A diligent search has revealed one spiritual meaning behind Jesus’ healing of the 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. When was the last time a leper had been healed? They had no choice but to look to the scriptures for the 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.

Another point of interest in Leviticus 14. Atonement is mentioned three times in reference to cleaning a leper. In error the priests viewed leprosy as a punishment from God, and attributed the cause of the disease to sin. Knowing how the priests would misinterpret the disease, God included signs of an atonement in the ceremony. By recognizing the cleansing of the leper by Jesus, the priests were also confirming Jesus’ ability to forgive sins.

God has His own way of reaching out to teach a lesson.

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