When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth [his] hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 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. 8:1-4
In this miraculous event, the preciousness of faith is strongly evident during this encounter of a person with leprosy who meets Jesus. It is expressed by the words, “if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean”. Despite this poor man’s suffering condition and plight in life, he had resolute faith in Jesus. If it was the will of Jesus, the man knew he could be healed, and so it was.
First, let us look at leprosy in biblical history as originally spoken about by by the Lord God himself when he said, “When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or a bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh [like] the plague of leprosy.” [Lev. 13:2] Not only did this horrible disease afflict many individuals throughout history but it also came with the stigma of contagion to others; thus causing many to shun people with leprosy.
This caused leprosy plagued people to be outcasts on the outside of camp or outside of the local community. Israelites were further instructed by the Lord God in this passage, “And the leper in whom the plague [is,] his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.” [Lev. 13:45] The majority of the fourteenth chapter chronicles the detailed process by which Israelite priests were to cleanse people with leprosy as noted in this passage, “This [is] the law [of him] in whom [is] the plague of leprosy, whose hand is not able to get [that which pertaineth] to his cleansing.” [Lev. 14:32]
Compassion of Jesus
Returning now back to when a person with leprosy meets Jesus, this background is all noteworthy since Jesus actually touched the person who was afflicted rather than shunning his presence. This incredible mark of compassion was indicative of Jesus healing people throughout his ministry. On another occasion, it was noted that Jesus was even inside the house of someone plagued with leprosy, “Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper.” [Matt. 26:6] In one situation, Jesus encountered ten men who had leprosy and proceeded to heal all of them but sadly, only one of them turned to pay homage to him, “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God.” [Luke 17:15]
Interestingly, when John the Baptist conveyed a message to Jesus while he was imprisoned by Herod, Jesus affirmed his healing ministry, inclusive of persons with leprosy, “And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” [Matt. 11:3-5]
Great Multitudes Followed
The other notable observation from a person with leprosy meets Jesus is the fact that multitudes of people, or large crowds, followed him to hear his teaching, preaching and to be healed by him. Recall at the beginning of his sermon on the mount how the masses followed him from several towns, some at considerable distances away, “And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and [from] Decapolis, and [from] Jerusalem, and [from] Judaea, and [from] beyond Jordan.” [Matt. 4:25]
The reason great multitudes often followed Jesus was recorded in the previous study, “the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as [one] having authority, and not as the scribes.” [Matt. 7:29] The repetitive records of multitudes following Jesus wherever he went are also recorded in these verses just in the gospel of Matthew alone, [Matt. 8:1, 9:8,33, 12:15, 13:2, 15:30, 19:2].
One of the most notable aspects of this encounter of a person with leprosy with Jesus was the fact that the man worshiped Jesus. Since no one can receive worship except God alone, it is a testament to the Son of God’s deity. In contrast to this, consider how Peter reacted when someone tried to worship him, “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped [him.] But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.” [Acts 10:25]
Recall also, when the wise men worshiped Jesus upon his presence even as a young child, “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him.” [Matt. 2:11] Another occasion of worship occurred after Jesus encountered a blind person again shortly after healing him. The religious leaders had cast him out of the synagogue over their unbelief of his healed vision, “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.” [John 9:35-38]
Several other notable verses in scripture record individuals worshiping Jesus such as [Matt.9:18. 14:33, 15:25, 28:9, 17, Mark 5:6, Luke 24:52, John 9:38]. In stark contrast to this, many in life however, sadly choose to reject the grace of God, believing a lie instead and Paul wrote about this when he stated, “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.” [Rom. 1:25]
Healings of Jesus
To close off this Bible Study on a person with leprosy meets Jesus, here you have a rather simple, perhaps a chance encounter healing by the Son of God. But chance is hardly something of the Lord’s doing since even the prophets from ancient times wrote of his messianic and healing influence that was to come, some seven centuries before it was to happen, “And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase [their] joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.” [Is. 29:18-19]
With all of this ability to heal people throughout his ministry, Jesus sought no fame or fortune for himself. He did not charge people for healing them nor did he seek to capitalize upon the potential populist impact. Even in this instance, he told the man to go and make traditional Jewish offerings in the temple, thus fulfilling another trait of Jesus as expressed, “And I seek not mine own glory.” [John 8:50] Jesus set the example for us in all humility and faith.
Faith in Jesus
Perhaps at this time, there are seekers of faith out there who are considering believing upon the Lord Jesus Christ. By repenting of your sins and placing your faith in him you can have eternal life today. Why not worship the creator instead of the creature; the creature is of course anything we falsely place our faith in other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
Consider the timeless words of Jesus when he encouraged Martha before raising her dead brother Lazarus from the grave, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? ” [John 11:25-26] No mere person could ever claim to be the resurrection and the life
Let us end with one last prophetic verse and while it may pertain more to the judgment meted out by the Lord upon the Israelites, it nevertheless resonates with this week’s scripture when great multitudes followed him, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD [is] near in the valley of decision.” [Joel 3:14] This is a decision we must all make by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is therefore with sincere prayer that readers will not simply be just be one of the individuals among the multitudes, but will take this moment in time and make the decision to come to Christ by faith, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” [John 14:6]
Bible Study Questions
- In this study about a person with leprosy meets Jesus why is faith so important for believers?
- While not noted in this study, did you know that leprosy still exists in the world today?
- Why is it so remarkable and notable that Jesus actually touched this person who had leprosy?
- Was the man’s leprosy cured immediately by Jesus or did it take some time for him to be cured?
- Fill in the blank – And, behold, there came a leper and ______________ him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
- Why is it so notable that the person with leprosy meets Jesus and actually worships him? What does it signify about Jesus?
- Is there someone with whom you should share this message who may be just one of the multitudes but needs Jesus in their life?
WORD GUIDE – * (wilt – will) * (rent – to tear) * (dost – do)