Cleansing the Leper. The series of devotions on the Words of Christ continues with an account of the healing of a leper in Matthew 8, Mark 1, and John 5. What is the significance of each passage making a point of Jesus telling the leper to follow the commandments in going to the priest to be pronounced clean?
2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."
3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
4 And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
Matthew 8:2-4, NKJV
40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, "If You are willing, You can make me clean."
41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. 43 And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
Mark 1:40-43, NKJV
12 And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."
13 Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately the leprosy left him. 14 And He charged him to tell no one, "But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded."
Luke 5:12-14, NKJV
The account of the cleansing the leper appears three times in the Gospels. As our series of devotions on the Words of Christ continues, we will note the significance of Christ's words and the similarity of the account given in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
All three accounts show the leper approaching Jesus and saying, "Lord, if you are willing you can make me clean." Sometimes I marvel at the simplicity of faith shown in just the common, ordinary people of Jesus' day. The religious leaders did not believe in Christ, but in this case, the common person had no doubt as to the ability of Jesus, nor His claims to be the Son of God.
The only requirement, from the perspective of the leper, was the willingness of Jesus. Did Jesus correct him? No! The leper was correct in his understanding of Jesus' ability and in knowing that was was, indeed, the Messiah. Jesus, in all three Gospels, simply affirmed, "I am willing."
Today, we may not have leprosy, but we most certainly are filled with the disease of sin which bars us from the very gates of heaven. Just as in the time of Jesus, we find a similar circumstance. True faith causes us to fall down before the Lord Jesus Christ and cry out to Him for salvation, for we understand that salvation only comes from His hand. As in the case of the leper, when we cry out to Christ for salvation, He saves us. Could it be so simple? Yes! Yet, so few actually fall before Him!
What happened after Jesus' cleansing the leper? Jesus, in all three Gospels, told the leper to go before the priest and follow the steps given in the commandments. Why did Jesus make a point of telling the leper to go to the priest? By these very words we understand the truth that Jesus did not come to abolish the Law of God, but rather, He came to fulfill the Law. Jesus tells us this very thing in Matthew 5:17, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill."
Why is this important to understand? Jesus was declaring that the Law of God still stands. Only those who obey the Law perfectly are admitted into heaven. That is the real problem, is it not? No one can obey the Law perfectly--no one, that is, until Christ.
As the perfect God and perfect Man, the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished what no man could--He perfectly obeyed all of the commandments of God. He, through His perfect obedience, then became the only man who could, and did, die in our place. As He illustrated to this leper the importance of obedience to the Law, He was showing by example that it was the perfect requirements of the Law that He would fulfill by His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.
As we review this account of the cleansing the leper, let us fall before this same Lord Jesus Christ. Let us acknowledge our sin and cry out for Him to accomplish for us what we cannot do ourselves. In Christ, alone, lies all of our hope of righteousness. In Christ, all requirements are met. Apart from Christ, there is no salvation.
Let us, like the leper, cry out, "Lord, if you are willing, make me clean."
God Bless You,