Summary of passages: Matthew 8:1-4: Descending from the Mount, a man with leprosy approached Jesus and asked to be made clean. Jesus agreed and cured the man of leprosy. Jesus told the man to not tell anyone that it was he who cured him but instead to go and show the priests and offer the gift to them that Moses commanded.
Mark 1:40-45: Mark’s account is the same as Matthew’s except we discover the reason Jesus wanted to keep it secret: so he could continue his ministry. Instead, despite Jesus’ warning, the man went out and began to spread the news that Jesus healed him, thus inhibiting Jesus from entering towns openly. Still, he preached as the people instead came to him.
3) The man did not demand that Jesus heal him like most toddlers do who don’t know any better. He approached Jesus with a reverent attitude and knelt before him. He asked politely. Presumably, the man had a ready heart for Jesus did not heal those whose hearts were not right. He believed Jesus could do it. He just didn’t know if Jesus would do it. He never doubted.
Some translations say the man worshipped Jesus. The man left it up to the will of God. He called Jesus “Lord”. He acknowledged who Jesus was.
The same for those seeking spiritual healing today: have a ready heart and a humble, penitent attitude before God. Worship God. Ask for God’s will to be done. Believe 100% that God can do it.
4a) Jesus’ actions: Jesus touched the man, healed him, and bade him not tell anyone and instead offer sacrifices for the miracle to God. He wanted the credit to go the priests not him.
b) Jesus’ emotions: Jesus was filled with compassion upon seeing the man (enough to heal him) and he gave a strong warning according to Mark to not spread the news of the healing. I would imagine Jesus was sad at being disobeyed because it did inhibit his work and thus the use of the word “lonely” in verse 45.
c) Jesus’ words: Jesus says he is willing to heal the man. He speaks the words and the man is healed. He tells the man to offer sacrifices as Moses has commanded and to give the credit to the priests. Note how Jesus does this with no regard to himself, no expectation of self-glory or exaltation. He did not heal the man for himself. He healed the man because it was the right thing to do.
d) Jesus’ care for the leper: Mark tells us Jesus was filled with compassion. He cared for the leper enough to heal him even though Jesus knew it would bring hardship upon him as Mark tells us that the man deliberately ignored Jesus’ instructions and created chaos wherever they went.
5) Personal Question. My answer: Two things: notice how Jesus said, “I am willing.” This is a great comfort to me as I know that God is willing to do anything for me that I ask. Also, note how Jesus heals the man despite he knows it will bring hardship upon himself. God will do things for us even though He knows we may turn from Him, disobey Him, not acknowledge Him, or not show gratitude for what He has done. It’s an amazing picture of God’s love for us. It makes me realize (as much as I am able as a mere human) the depth of God’s love for little o’ me!
Conclusions: I liked this lesson. Note how only 9 verses in the bible can carry an enormous message for us. Here, we see Jesus’ immense compassion for people and his willingness to do things not for his glory but for others. He heals despite the man’s disobedience. Powerful message that many of us need to hear: God loves us and cares for us despite our sins, misgivings, fallings short, disobedience, denial, and selfishness.
Who else do you know that loves you as deeply?
End Notes: To understand the depth and magnitude of what Jesus did here, we must understand leprosy itself. Leprosy was (and still is) a horrible disease where your muscles slowly rot over time. It progresses to where the limbs slowly rot and fall off as all circulation is cut off from that part of the body.
Leprosy has been around since the beginning of time. It is reported by all the major civilizations including Ancient Egypt, Persia, China, and India. As most diseases of ancient times, it was not understood. Hence, people were afraid of catching it. As such, those who had leprosy were outcasts, considered unclean and punished by God for their sins.
Jewish law demanded you stay 6 feet away from a leper. During the Middle Ages, priests would actually say the last rites over a leper as they were as good as dead. Lepers were treated horribly and endured a very horrible life.
Lepers had to live alone (Leviticus 13:46). They had to shout “Unclean! Unclean!” as a warning to others. If you are interested in a visual, I would suggest watch the movie “Ben Hur”. It has an accurate depiction of how lepers were treated in Jesus’ time.
Now, we know catching leprosy is actually not all that easy. It’s a bacteria that is spread only through close contact with nose and mouth droppings.
According to the World Health Organization, only about 180,000 people worldwide have the disease, only about 200 live in the United States. It is a curable disease, treated with antibiotics. Thus, it is hard for us to understand this disease and the people afflicted with it.
For Jesus to touch the man, he was breaking Jewish law. For him to come near the man, he was breaking Jewish law. But upon the touch, the man was healed. Thus, the law was not broken!
Did Jesus have to touch the man to heal him? No. He touched the man to make a point. That lepers can be touched. Note as we go along though the chronicles of Jesus’ healing ministry how he heals. He uses different methods depending on what he wants to get across. Here, he needed to show it was okay to touch a leper. And he touched the leper for the man himself. The man probably hadn’t been touched in years. He needed that human affection.
Imagine not touching a baby. We all need human contact to be functional in this society.
God is always willing and able to heal. It’s God’s will if He does or not.
Why did Jesus not want his healing announced? Jesus came to save us from our sins. He didn’t want his miracles to trump his overarching message. He didn’t want to be seen as a physical healer; he wanted to be seen as the spiritual healer of men’s hearts.
Jesus told the man to report to the priests so he could follow the cleansing acts as required by the Law (Leviticus 14). This would allow the man to re-enter Jewish society and begin to live his life once more.
Fun Facts: This is the first time in the gospels Jesus is called “Lord.”
This is the first case of healing described in the gospels.