Matthew 8:1-4 Jesus Cleanses the Leper

A Leper in the Bible was anyone who had any type of skin disease with the more serious being Hansen’s disease as it is called today. This was a feared disease and God laid out specific instructions in Leviticus 13 for what should be done with such a person. They would be banished from the community, would wear old torn clothes, wear a bell around their neck and yell unclean. According to the Talmud they could not come any closer than six feet to a person and if the wind was blowing they had to stay away hundred and fifty feet.

What we learn from the Leper

1) He approached Jesus with confidence

Hebrews 4:15-16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The leper braved a crowd with the confidence that Jesus would not rebuke him for approaching him. It has been said that some of the Rabbi’s would be concerned with staying clean so they would pick up rocks and throw them at Lepers to make sure they stayed away from them. This Leper must have realized after hearing either Jesus sermon or reports about Him that He was different than others. The Leper was confident not in who he was but in who Jesus and that is why he approached Jesus. You can not approach Jesus because you are worthy, because you are not, you can only approach Jesus because He is worthy and allows you to enter into His presence. If you do not think you are worthy enough to approach Jesus realize that no one is ever worthy on their own and must come to Him with reverence. (Romans 3:23)

2) The Leper approached with reverence

The way the passage is written it means he came and bowed in a posture of worship toward Jesus. The Leper knew he had nothing to offer Jesus and only came to him humbly hoping for mercy. He knew that if Jesus did not heal him then he would stay in the terrible state he was in. This sounds familiar with what sin does to us. The problem is too many people do not see themselves as having this deadly disease called sin and so they do not go to Jesus for healing. (Romans 6:23)

Romans 10:9 because, if (L)you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and (M)believe in your heart (N)that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

The Leper came humbly asking “Lord if you are willing” I will be healed. He did not come to Jesus demanding a miracle, he did not come to Jesus and tell Him that he did not deserve this sickness. No, the Leper came to Jesus and with reverence knew that if Jesus wanted him healed then he would be healed.

3) The Leper Came by Faith

We have to be careful with this word faith and what it really means. Some use faith as some sort of key that will force God to do what you have requested for Him to do. When the Bible talks about faith it is not some magical thing to get what you want. Faith that the Bible talks about is faith  in someone and that someone is Jesus. Many today are teaching that you should have faith but they teach it in such a way that you ultimately have faith in your faith. Having faith in Jesus means you realize no matter if you are healed or not that you can trust His judgement and His will for your life.

Daniel 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, (AB)our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.[d] 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Faith in God is not knowing if God would come through or not even while you are praying for a miracle. Faith is trusting God because you can not see all the purposes or  plans He has for the situation  we are in. We all get to read the end of the Old Testament stories and we can criticize them for not trusting in God. Having faith in God comes from not knowing the end of our story or what He has planned and as humble servants we accept the role He has for us as we continually trust Him for guidance.   Of course if you teach that you have to have faith in order to be healed or for your situation to change, the easy thing to say is, you just didn’t have enough faith. I was told one time by a person that when his brother died of cancer, that he did not have enough faith and that is why he died. That could not be further from the truth and is part of the prideful Christianity that is taking place today as we teach that we are somehow in control through our “Faith Muscle” Christianity is about surrendering your life to God through Jesus Christ and giving up all control. If you are to come by faith with Jesus then you have to realize that not everything will come out like you think it will even when you walk by faith. (See Hebrews 11)

Will you have faith in God even if He does not Heal you?

Will you trust Him even if He does not change your circumstances?

What we learn about Jesus

1) The Healing showed He was the Messiah

Matthew wanted the Jewish people to  see that Jesus was the long waited for Messiah that he continually wrote the gospel with that intention. This is one of the reasons that Jesus sent the Leper to the priest because He wanted the Cleansed Leper to testify about what Jesus did to him so that the priest might believe. In prison John the Baptist wanted to make sure that Jesus was the one and so Jesus sent John’s disciple to him to say these words.

Matthew 11:2-6 Now when John heard (B)in prison about the deeds of (C)the Christ, he sent word by (D)his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you (E)the one who is to come, or shall we (F)look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 (G)the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers[a] are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and (H)the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who (I)is not offended by me.”

Jesus was showing John the Baptist that He met all the qualifications of the long awaited Messiah.

2) Jesus reached out

Just like the Good Samaritan, Jesus was willing to touch what no one else dared to touch. When others would not even walk on the same street as this man or would move away from him, Jesus reached out and touched him. To touch a Leper or a dead person would have made a person unclean. This was the very thing Jesus did with our sins. Jesus came to take our disease called sin and take it upon Himself so that He could destroy it once and for all.

Galatians 3:13 Christ (A)redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, (B)“Cursed is everyone who is hanged (C)on a tree”—

3) Jesus knew the real need.

He did not have to touch the Leper but Jesus knew the greatest need the man had at the time was human touch. The Leper was banished from the community and that would have meant from the day that he was declared unclean and would not be able to go back and give a hug or kiss to his family. This Leper wanted to be healed and Jesus gave him something he did not expect, the human touch. We do not know how this man was able to get to Jesus but you could be sure that the crowd either backed away or cleared a path as the man approached. The crowd was probably in shock when Jesus reached out and touched the Leper thinking Jesus would be declared unclean and possibly worse, contract the disease Himself. To their shock and amazement the Leper was healed and declared clean.

This is the same thing that happens to us as we come to Jesus and confess that we are sinners and that we need to be healed of our sins. Jesus does not just forgive us our sins, He touches us and lets us know that we are worthy of His love and then He makes us something that we were not because sin has destroyed our lives.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is (A)in Christ, he is (B)a new creation.[a] (C)The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

4)Jesus stayed focused on the main thing

Jesus told the man to go and tell no one about this except the priest.  We read in the story that the man could not keep quiet about his healing and who can blame him. But why would Jesus tell him to not say anything? The reason is that Jesus main purpose in coming to earth was not to do miracles. Yes,  the miracles proved He was the Messiah and the greatest miracle was when He raised Himself  from the dead (John 10:18), but Jesus main purpose was the redeeming of man back to God. (I know some would say at this point that His main goal was to bring Glory to the Father, which is true and He did that by redeeming man kind)

John 6:38-40 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father,that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

The Christian community as a whole is involved with many great causes which involve humanitarian efforts. I applaud those who go and serve but we also along with the healing touches we are giving also need to give them the greatest news that will last them for an eternity. What Jesus did for them through the Cross and resurrection must be told as we are laying hands on them for healing, as we are giving them food to feed them, and as we are putting roofs over their heads. A friend of mine on the mission field said one time “we do not want to just give them a more comfortable place to go to hell from”.  Miracles and humanitarian efforts in our churches have seemed to take the forefront of what the church is about. I say that when those things become our focus we have missed out on what is truly important and that telling people to surrender their lives to Christ. If we help people and do not point them to Jesus than we did not complete the work that we were set out to accomplished.

Final Thoughts  

  • Leprosy causes broken relationships/ sin has broken our relationship with God
  • The man with Leprosy’s only hope was Jesus/ Our only hope is through Jesus
  • The man was healed instantly/ we are forgiven and declared clean instantly
  • When the man was cleaned he could not be quiet about it/ we should be telling others about what Christ has done for us
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