One of the most touching stories I have come across in the Gospel of Matthew is mentioned just after the beatitudes. Jesus has just shared his message to hungry souls. He has filled their hearts with the Joy of new hope. He has given them living water which quenches the thirsting, and now he is about to continue his ministry to those in need of a Saviour. Jesus finishes his blessings upon the multitudes, with the comfort that if they build their house on the foundation of the rock, storm, tempest and floods would not be able to break that house,
As The Lord comes down from the mountain, a large gathering of people take hast and follow him. There is seen nearing the Messiah a Leper. As it was customary to call the cry “Unclean, unclean, unclean”, this Leper does not echo these words. Instead the very first thing that comes forth from his mouth is “Lord…”.
Just for a moment, picture the scene. Here is the Saviour, he has taught the people to love your enemies, to bless those that curse you. He has taught them saying “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God, blessed are the that morn, for they shall be comforted, blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God…take no thought for your life…give to them which have nothing…pray for them that hate you and persecute you…” Jesus is faced with a man filled with leprosy.
Where are those that were with the Lord as he came down the mount of blessings? How many people would have been standing next to Jesus when this leper came unto him? If we follow the story line and what people did when they saw a man filled with leprosy, we would conclude that none would be near Jesus or the man. In fact, I would imagine that those whom followed Jesus would have stood at a distance, not wanting to be contaminated by this fellow who bore the evidence of the curse. Instead they became spectators of something marvellous and wonderful to behold.
Leprosy was considered as the “Stroke” or another words, the curse from God. If a man was found with Leprosy, whether be rich or Poor, free or bond, they were examined and sentenced by the priest as “Unclean”. Leprosy was seen as a curse for a dreadful sin committed. The man who was pronounced as a leper was considered an outcast to society. They were not to have any association with their neighbours or even their families. As an Outcast and a Leper affected by this disease, when people saw them, they were to pronounce those words “Unclean, Unclean, Unclean!”
When we see this story of the Leper meeting Jesus, I could only imagine that as those words from the Saviour from the beatitudes echoed through that multitude, this leper picked up on the hope that the redeemer was here. I could imagine that when Jesus words whistled through the air, this mans heart, filled with fresh hope and in desperation, was longing to see his saviour. Not aware of the crowd that followed Jesus, the Leper meets Jesus face to face, falls down, worships and in close contact cries out these words “…Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” Matt 8:2
Here is the words of a sinner, whom pounced himself unworthy of any good gift. His cry is "Lord, You are able to do so if you choose, but Father, if you are willing, and I know that for a certainty, you can make me whole!" Had that request been of a boastful nature, there would have been no healing. But here was a man who was poor in spirit, who was mourning, who was alone, had found a meek and merciful saviour. Jesus looks upon this man with pity and compassion, stoops down “…put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Matt 8: 3
Before Jesus spoke, he touched the man. Before the Saviour said anything to this repentant leper, he puts forth that gentle hand and touches the man. “This is not how I made you, it was never meant to be this way. I created you in My Fathers image, and I know that I came to take away your sorrow. When I made Adam, I formed him with my hand, and breathed into him life, and now my son, I am” That touch from Jesus spoke more than the most poetic lyrics ever heard to man. That hand that would calm the sea, raise the dead and eventually be nailed to the cross was put forth to that man. The Saviours hand spoke more to that man than he had ever experienced in his life. Following that touch was the spoken word, from the word made flesh “…I will; be thou clean.”
What wonderful joythat filled this leper. As the showers from heaven fell like soft rain in a dry and thirsty land, this man recieved the ultimate blessing. The odour became odourless, and limb become life. Every nerve, every impulse gain back it’s normality “…And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Matt 8: 3. The Word which created the world, which called all things into existence, which breathed life into the crown work of Gods creation, gave life to this Leper, in who’s leprosy was gone. What a fantastic scene, what and amazing sight to see. What a joy to behold the Saviour alone with the Leper.
“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.” Matt 8:4. In order to have been announced free from leprosy, the man who had leprosy was to be examined by the priest, and be pronounced as clean. In doing this the priest would confirm that this man indeed was cured of the disease. Jesus commanded to tell no man, but first shew himself to the priest. This was done so that he would demonstrate the spirit of submission of God’s appointed agency, and that in testifying to this miracle, the announcement of the priest would confirm the miracle that Jesus had performed.
Here is an important Lesson for us today. If we live in an independent sprit, not wanting to be under the umbrella of whom God has delegated over us, we display a spirit that is not of God’s Son, but a spirit of rebellion and hate. Unless we have a child like spirit, not matter how many wonderful things we do or how many sermons we preach, the kingdom of heaven will never be found in us. Only those who are submissive to the divine pattern in which the Spirit of the Lord is upon will enter the pearly gates will inherit the blessings the Lord has promised them.
The Mans Testimony was to remind the leaders that there was someone greater than Moses, whom was in their midst. There was someone, in whom the prophet prophesied that would come in the name of the Lord. If they had taken heed to the law and the testimony and convicted by the spirit of prophecy, they would have seen their Master, the Shakinah Glory. But they didn’t, for their eyes were blinded and pride set in their hearts. They envied Christ and wished him to not exist. That day the Leper went away blessed, for he was healed by the Lord.
Today Leprosy is not as common as it was those times, but there is a leprosy that the human eye cannot see. It is the leprosy of the heart. The Leprosy of the heart is sin. Sin, which is the transgression of the law, desensitised those thing which we would otherwise rebuke. There is a condition in the heart where all evil resides. Our hearts are full of worms, hole and residue, and there is nothing we can do of ourselves to rid this emptiness. But what we can do is place our choice on the side of the Master redeemer, and he will take away our sins. If you come to the Lord, with all your warts, and all your faults, and present them before throne of Grace, the Lord put forth his hand, he will touch you and say those most beautiful words that he said to the Leper “…I am willing, be clean.”