2 And behold, a leper came up to Him and, prostrating himself, worshiped Him, saying, Lord, if You are willing, You are able to cleanse me by curing me.
3 And He reached out His hand and touched him, saying, I am willing; be cleansed by being cured. And instantly his leprosy was cured and cleansed.
4 And Jesus said to him, See that you tell nothing about this to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, for a testimony [to your healing] and as an evidence to the people.
~ Matthew 8:2-4
What an amazing story of Jesus healing the man with leprosy! Isn’t it awesome how he was able to heal the man instantly? Wow! Aren’t you thrilled by the show of God’s mercy, love and compassion?
Where we have Jesus going about his business. He is walking through the streets of a town. His disciples and many others people flank him. There is much excitement. People are chatting about the wonderful things he has done. Some sneer. Some are overjoyed. People can be seen running swiftly away from him. They are not running in fear. They are going to get loved ones so he may heal them. Other’s are carrying their sick and diseased for him to heal. In this excitement a leper dares to come forward. He pleads with Jesus.
“Lord, if you are willing, you are able to cleanse me by curing me.”
Why would he beg Jesus? Others were receiving healing. Isn’t it perfectly normal to expect that He would also be healed? To us it is obvious but we must consider his mental state and the prevailing traditions to know why he had doubts.
His first statement reveals how he sees himself. We know he is an Israelite. A child of Abraham. Numbered among those to who Jesus was initially sent to declare the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
So why didn’t he demand his healing? He worships Jesus then he pleads to be healed.
“…You are able to cleanse me by curing me.”
We can instantly recognize that the leper had faith to be healed by Jesus. He heard that the Master had done great things. People talked openly about it in the streets. He may have witnessed Jesus healing others. We can see his heart was resolved that Jesus was able to heal him. Yet there was a war in his mind. He battled with the thought that Jesus may not be willing to heal him.
How do we know? His request contained these words.
“If you are willing…”
That is not a confession of faith. It broadcasts doubt and fear. Why do you think there was a war between his heart and his head?
To understand the basis for his doubt we must understand the culture at the time. Leprosy was a deadly incurable disease. It slowly destroyed the flesh. Tumors and ulcers growth would cover the body. The hair turned white. The body was slowly deformed and was twisted. Limbs were lost as the sickness ravaged the body. Afflicted persons died a very and agonizing death. There was no cure. This was considered the ultimate punishment from God.
Lepers were also considered unclean. Physically and religiously impure. They were not allowed in the temple. They could not live among the people. All lepers were forced to live in a colony outside the town. When they came into the city for food they had to loudly announce “unclean! Unclean.” It gave people the opportunity to avoid possible contamination.
Contamination meant that that person would be unclean. He or she had to live in a tent outside the town for at least seven days. When the days had ended the priest would examine them and their house for signs of leprosy. If there was no sign of leprosy the person would undergo a purification process before being allowed back into society and the temple. No one wanted to suffer this fate. So the people greatly feared and loathed them.
He anticipated being rejected. Other religious leaders had turned him away. They avoided anything that made them unclean. Jesus was revered by the people as a religious leader. He was a holy man. He was being used by God greater than any of them. Surely he must be more pious than the others. He was shocked to discover that this was not the case with Jesus. Not only did Jesus look at him. His face showed love and compassion.
Mark 1:41 says Jesus was moved by pity and sympathy for the man. It compelled him to reach out and touch the man. This simple act of touching him. Spoke volumes. To someone denied of human touch he was overjoyed. It signaled that he was loved and accepted. Touching him destroyed the barriers that tradition and culture had placed in his mind. It signaled that he was loved and accepted like everyone else. Worthy of God’s love and compassion like everyone else. His heart and head were now in agreement. All doubts and fears were removed. He now understood that the Master considered him worthy to God’s love and compassion. Worthy of God’s mercy. Worthy to be healed. No longer was he double-minded. His heart and head now accepted that Jesus would heal him. His heart opened to receive the healing power of God.
Jesus was not afraid of the disease. He knew he had authority and power over it and all the works of Satan. To God this disease was no more than the common cold. His power is unlimited.
The words uttered in response by Jesus signaled his willingness to heal. “I am willing; be cleansed by being cured” the power of God was released. The Greek word for willing is thelō . It means willing and desires to. Not only does is He willing to heal, He desires to heal; the leper and you. With these words the power of God flowed from Jesus into the man. Instantly his skin was renewed. We are talking tumors falling off, scabs disappearing, missing body parts restored, deformed parts made whole. To us this was a major miracle. To God was nothing.
But Jesus looked at them and said, With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God
~ Matthew 19:26, Amplified Bible Classic
How does this relate to you?
The picture of the leper is symbolic of us. Sin destroys us. It separates us from a holy God. There is nothing we cannot make us worthy. Thanks to the blood of Jesus we are forgiven. And worthy of His love, mercy and compassion. Jesus made that sacrifice several decades ago.
If you come to Him, you will never be rejected. It is His will that you are healed.
“All whom My Father gives (entrusts) to Me will come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will most certainly not cast out [I will never, no never, reject one of them who comes to Me].”
~ John 6:37.
He will accept you. He will heal you. Correction he has already healed you.
He personally bore our sins in His [own] body on the tree [as on an altar and offered Himself on it], that we might die (cease to exist) to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.
~ 1 Peter 2:24