Harmony of the Gospels, Leper Healed; His Response

 Harmony of the Gospels

-AD 27-
Galilee
(8) Leper Healed; His Response
(Leviticus 13:44) Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-45, Luke 5:12-16

 

Whenever Jesus came into contact with disease or misery, He was moved by compassion to remove it by his touch, His presence, or His word.  This was part of His humiliation, due to the path that He chose during His conquest of the tempter, in the wilderness.  Satan offered Him the easy way to the Throne, which avoided the cross and the pain and suffering that people, would bring to Him.  But He refused to commit the miraculous, and chose instead the path of obedience to the Father.  As God-man He moved among the people as a servant, and He healed them.  He felt their pain, because He could see into their hearts, where mere men could not see.

It is interesting to note that in regard to lepers, that Jesus’ ministry begins where the ministry of the Rabbis ended.  There was no known cure for leprosy, so when a Rabbi declared a man to be a leper, he was condemned to an existence of psychological and physical suffering.  Law forbade them to enter any walled city.  They could not touch another person and no one would chance touching them.  Their appearance was ghastly: dirty ragged clothing, disheveled hair, a handkerchief over their mouth, running sores and missing body parts.  They lacked feeling in their fingers and toes, so they were often missing or fire and sharp stones damaged them.  The Jews felt that there was no cure for leprosy other than from God, Himself, as was the case with Naaman.

Leprosy was believed to be God’s chastisement for sins that were committed by the person.  That type of thinking removed compassion and sympathy for the leper.  They were likely to be stoned, if they got too close.

The disease had a psychological element, because they were forbidden to touch anyone, except one of their kind, and because all men avoided them.  They lived in loneliness and despair, and their condition was hopeless.  Even their religion refused to give them consolation.

So this was the manner of the life of a leper.  But Jesus has come to meet this man and to restore him in a miraculous way.  The three synoptic Gospels tell about this event.

 

-Matthew-

When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. (Matthew 8:1)

I believe that He is in the vicinity of Capernaum.  There are multitudes of people following Him, because He has shown them the Kingdom of God through His preaching, and now He will demonstrate His power over humanities worst disease.

And behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. (Matthew 8:2)

Leprosy was considered incurable, and it is a loathsome disease.  Notice that the leper did not say, “Will you make me clean” or “Are you able to make me clean.”  The leper had faith and he recognized the Lordship of Christ, therefore he said, “If you will, you can make me clean.”  The things that we ask Him are not always His will.  But if it is His will, it will happen.  We should pray, “Thy will be done”; let Him decide.  However, that is not the way most people pray; they demand that God do something, because they want Him to.  Let Him decide, because that’s the way it’s going to be done anyway.

And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean.  And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (Matthew 8:3)

I don’t know this man’s background, but allow me the liberty to suggest how his leprosy might have come about.  One day he may have been working in his fields, when he noticed a breaking out on his hand.  He showed it to his wife and she may have put some ointment on it.  The following day it was still there, but he went back to work in the fields anyway.  That night, it was just as red as could be.  His wife may have treated it again, and this went on for about a week.  Finally, both of them became worried, so he went to show it to the priest.  The priest isolated him for fourteen days, and at the end of that time, the disease had spread.  The priest told him that he had leprosy.  He probably asked the priest if he could go home to see his wife and children one last tine and tell them good by.   The priest would have said. “No!  You can never touch another person and you must wear a handkerchief over your mouth.  If anyone comes near, you must yell, ‘unclean. Unclean’”  From time to time, his family probably left food for him, and he would wave to them from a distance.  Then one day this man came to Jesus and said, “Lord, if you will you can make me clean.”  And what did the Lord Jesus do?  He touched him.  This man had not felt the touch of another person for years.  I want to tell you that the touch of Jesus was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to this man.  It not only cleansed him, but it brought him back into the family of mankind and into the family of God.  His leprosy was healed immediately.

And Jesus saith unto him, See that 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. (Matthew 8:4)

There was one thing left to do.  The law required that a priest declare him clean and that he offers a sacrifice.  Jesus knew the law and He had not come to do away with it.  Jesus told the man not to tell anyone who it was that healed him, however in Mark’s Gospel, we are told that He told everyone that he met.  This created problems for Jesus.

-Mark-

And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.  And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. (Mark 1:40-41)

The leper treated Jesus with the proper respect.  He kneeled in front of Him, and he expressed his faith by saying, “I know that you can heal me, if that is your will.”  This is a good example for us today.  Jesus is not our “buddy’, He is God.  He is due our respect as well as our love.  Let’s give Him more respect than we would show to an earthly king or president.  When we ask him something, we should preface our request with, “If thy will”.  After all, "His will" will be done anyway, because it is right and because He is God.

And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.  And he straightly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. (Mark 1:42-44)

The cleansing of the leper was to follow a Mosaic ritual.  Our Lord did not break the Mosaic Law.

But he went out and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could not more openly enter the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter. (Luke 1:45)

This man, instead of keeping quiet, went out and blazed it abroad.  That means that he told everyone that he met.  He disobeyed the Lord.  A preacher once said about this passage, “the Lord told him not to tell anybody and he told everybody.  He tells us to tell everybody and we tell nobody.”  I don’t believe that the disobedience of this cleansed leper is as bad as our disobedience.  We are to tell everybody and we tell nobody.

However, because he told everybody, the crowds came, and so He had to leave Capernaum for a time.

-Luke-

And it came to pass, when He was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought Him, saying Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.  And immediately the leprosy departed from him.  And He charged him to tell no man: but go, and show thyself to the priest, and offer for thine cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.  But so much the more went there a fame abroad of Him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities.  And He withdrew Himself into the wilderness, and prayed. (Luke 5:12-16)

The touch of Christ changed this man forever.  At His touch a leper became a man again.  He could return to His wife and children.  He could enter the city and talk to other men.  He could touch them and be touched in return.  The psychological healing that occurred when Jesus touched him was as great as the physical healing.  Has Christ touched your life?  If He has, then you have been cleansed of sin.  And now you can touch others in His name.  Jesus said that we are to love others, and in that way we honor Him by being obedient.  Our touch can take many forms.  It may be as simple as being kind.  Or perhaps, we can give aid and assistance.  We may be able to tell them about Jesus and give them the Gospel.

Jesus told the man not to tell anyone that He was the One, who healed him, but the man was overjoyed, and he told everyone.  That caused Jesus to have to leave the area to avoid the huge crowds.

 

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