The miracles of Jesus part 2

The Leper


After Jesus had preached one of the most powerful lessons, known as the Sermon on the Mount, He had many people following after Him. It was shortly after this great sermon that Jesus would work some more miracles. The miracles we are looking at today are ones where he healed those who could not be healed any other way. Not only did these the miracles allow Jesus to manifest His glory as the Son of God, it also allowed Him to show great compassion.


The first miracles we will look at today is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Mark’s gives a more detailed look at what happen, so we are going to read his account.


Mark 1:40 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."  45 However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.


Leprosy was one of the most dreaded yet most common diseases in ancient Bible times. For example Luke 4:27 says there were many lepers during the time of Elisha. There was no known cure for the disease, so those who got it would have to slowly see and feel their flesh being eaten away.


Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary says the following about Leporcy:


 Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, as defined today, is the name for disease processes caused by the microorganism Mycobacterium leprae. There are two types: a. The lepromatous type begins with brownish-red spots on the face, ears, forearms, thighs and/or buttocks which later become thickened nodules and, losing their skin covering, become ulcers (“sores”) with subsequent loss of tissue and then contraction and deformity. It was apparently the lepromatous type that was chiefly in view in the Biblical cases of true leprosy. b. The tuberculoid type is characterized by numbness of an affected area of skin and deformity such as fingers like claws resulting from paralysis and consequent muscle wasting (atrophy). The advanced forms of leprosy are not described in Leviticus 13, presumably because this chapter is concerned with early diagnosis. Advanced leprosy would only be seen in isolation outside the camp.


Leprosy was not only a disease of the flesh, but under the Law of Moses it made one ceremonially unclean. Leviticus 13 and 14 describe the procedure the priests were to follow regarding this disease. Other noteworthy men and women that either had this disease and were cured from it or was struck down with it by God until the day they died are as follows:


  • According to Numbers 12, Miram and Aaron spoke against Moses’ and God struck her with leprosy for 7 days.
  • According to 2 Kings 5, Naaman was a leper who was a very successful military officer. He wanted to be cured from him disease and went to Elisha to get it. Elisha told him to go dip in the Jordan 7 times. At first he would not, but later he did and was cleansed. Later the Gehazi lied to Naaman about Elisha wanting the reward he offered, and Gehazi was stuck down with leprosy and was told that he and his descendants would be plagued with the dreaded disease.
  • According to 2 Chronicles 26, Uzziah, the king of Judah, burned incense on the altar, but only the priests had the right, so he struck down with leprosy to the day of his death.
  • According to Luke 17, Jesus healed 10 lepers. Only one returned to give thanks unto the Lord.
  • Finally, there was Simon the leper, who was not doubt a former leper. He hosted Jesus at his home in Bethany (Matt. 26:6). It was during this occasion that woman anointed Jesus head with costly ointment.


While there are different stages of leprosy, we learn that the leper Jesus healed in our account was full of leprosy (Lk. 5:12). 


Leprosy typifies sin. Just as leprosy defiled the body, sin defiles the soul. With Naaman, there was no cure for leprosy other than through obedience to God. Likewise, only Christ can cure the plague of sin. Leprosy, like sin, is contagious. Leprosy, uncured, will result in death. Sin, when it is finished, brings forth death (Rom. 6:23; Jas. 1:13-15).


Mark 1:40 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."


Imagine yourself being eaten up by leprosy. Perhaps your ears and eyelids are already gone. You know what you look like and horrible you feel. Think about how you would treat someone that had an incurable disease like this; knowing that if you touch him that you could become infected as well. Think about how cautious you would be not to be around people because you would not want wish your disease on anyone.


Putting yourself in this man’s shoes. Consider that you have heard about the man named Jesus who has the power to heal your reached diseases and you just found out that he is your town. What are you going to do? Well, think most of us would take the chance and go to Jesus.


The man believed in Jesus and just knew that he would be able to relieve him from his agony. He approached Him in a very humble way. He bowed down to Him and implored Him to make him clean.


This is the same attitude that we should have to Jesus as well. While we may not have leprosy, we have something fare worse. Sin. Only Jesus can make us clean with His blood. We must never approach Him like we deserve His cure. Instead, we must approach Him with a humble spirit. After all, James says:


James 4:6  God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."


Again, Mark tells us that he kneeled before Jesus, and Luke 5:12 tells us that he fell on his face as He implored Jesus to heal Him. These are all positions that showed reverence to Jesus. Even when Jesus was on the earth, He accepted worship from people because He is the Son of God.


On two occasions the voice of the Father thundered from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mt. 3:17; 17:5). On the mount of Transfiguration these words were added: “hear him.” He is worthy to be worshiped because He speaks on behalf of the Father (John 14:9).


The Jews understood that Jesus’ claim of being God’s Son placed Him on an equal plane with God and for this reason He was charged with blasphemy (Mt. 9:3).Yet, Jesus was coequal and coeternal with the Father (Jn. 1:1-3). Paul wrote:


Philippians 2:6 who (Jesus), being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,


Therefore, all should bow before Him and worship. Edward Perronet wrote the majestic hymn, “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name.” When Queen Victoria of England would hear this song, she would remove her crown in respect to the King of kings and Lord of lords. Indeed all will bow before Him one day (Phil. 2:9-11). The leper of Matthew 8 was right for worshiping at the feet of Jesus.


When is the last time you showed this much reference to God? We have much to learn from this lepers approach to Jesus.


Notice what the leper said to Jesus:


"If You are willing, You can make me clean."


This man did not demand that Jesus heal him. No, He asked, “if you are willing.” We should never think that we have the right to demand things from God. Yes, we can ask, but we cannot force God to do anything that He does not want to do. Arrogance and self-righteousness will never win the favor of God nor anyone else.


Jesus taught His disciples to pray as follows, “Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). Jesus practiced what He preached. Even when the sins of the world were weighing Him down in the Garden shortly before He would be hauled off for His cruel death. He prayed:


Luke 22:42 "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."


While His humanity cried out to escape the cross, His intense desire to please the Father caused Him to endure the pain, and so He humbly submitted Himself to the Father’s will.  That is exactly what this leper was doing before Jesus and it exactly the attitude we should have when we make our request to God through prayer.


Jesus never would turn anyone away that came to Him in the way this leper did. Paul teaches us the same thing about coming before God in prayer:


Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 


When we pray, we may not get the answer that we are looking for, but we must put our trust in God’s will. James says:


James 4:13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit";  14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." 


We must also have the same trust that the leper had because he said: You can make me clean. In the same way you and I should confident in God’s ability to answer our prayers and make things happen even if it not what we expected.


This study of the miracles of Jesus is a study on the power of God. While the age of the miraculous is over, shouldn’t we still stand in awe of our Lord’s power? We do not need the miraculous to cause us to believe in the power of God:


Psalm 19:1The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.  2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.


I am still amazed at the power of God when I hear a newborn baby cry, when the earth brings forth its fruit, or when I see a beautiful sunset. It just blows my mind that the same God who made everything that we can see with or without our eyes cares for me (1 Pet. 5:7). Do you trust in the Lord’s power, as did this leper?


Notice Jesus’ response:


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.


We find Jesus doing what He usually does, which is reaching out to someone in need. He was doing something others would not do, which was touch someone with leprosy. Jesus knew what He was doing because He knew that He had the power over leprosy. As soon as He touched him, his leprosy was gone. I know that none us have had leprosy, but imagine one of your worst sickness you have had and then having someone touch you and immediately you were healed. Think about how that would make you feel because that is what the leper was experiencing.


As we think about leprosy typifying sin, think about how it just as contagious as leprosy if not more. As Christians we must be careful with those that we hang around. Paul said:


1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."


Now this does not mean that we are to avoid all sinners all the time because we cannot be taken out of the world and it is our Christian duty to reach out to the lost. Jesus ate with sinners and got to know them, but He never became like them. We must always be watchful of ourselves to make sure that we don’t allow ourselves to get involved in sinful activities. Instead, our goal should be to influence others and to bring them to Christ so they can be cleansed from the sins.


There is no cure for sin on this earth. Man cannot save himself by himself. We must all come before God and humbly submit ourselves before Him. When we obey God’s will by believing in Jesus, repenting, confessing Him as Lord and by being baptized for the forgiveness of our sins, then we too can be instantly cured from our sins, which is far worse than leprosy or any other disease. The diseases we have on this earth can bring your misery and death, but sin will bring you eternal misery and eternal separation from God.


Notice what happens next:


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."  45 However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.


While Jesus’ miracles primary purpose was manifest His glory, He did not use His miracles to show off and show great He was. Also, if every person He healed told people what He did, it would become very difficult for Him to be able to preach the message He wants to be herd because the people would press Him wanting a cure instead of listening to what He had to say, which would bring about an eternal cure for sin.


If you want to know the details of what the priest had to do for determining leprosy, the read Lev. 13. If you want to know what the procedure for those pronounced clean after having leprosy read Lev. 14. There was a quite a bit they had to do.


Even though Jesus waned this man not tell others about what He did for him, we learn that he did not keep his mouth shut, and because of what he did, Jesus could not enter the city anymore because of the hoards of people. Even though he stayed out in remote locations the people still came to Him.


You might be thinking, how could this man not keep his mouth shut after what Jesus did for him? You are right, he should have, but at the same time I can understand how hard it would be for this man who was once full of leprosy and is now completely cured. Imagine how hard it would be to keep from telling people about the great thing that happened to you because of Jesus. This man wasn’t the only one that had this problem because several of those that Jesus healed that were told to keep it on the down low couldn’t help but spread the good news.


Imagine yourself being on deaths door and than someone healed you. Then people saw you just a few days before, seen you after you were healed. What are going to tell them? Do you think they are going to let you get away without answering them? If tried you could keep it quite, but it would be really hard to do. 


While this leper was suppose to be quite about what Jesus had done for him, it just the opposite when it comes to what Jesus has done for us. Paul is great example of this. After Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Ananias comes to him and says:


Acts 22:16 'And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'


The we read in:


Acts 9:18 … and he arose and was baptized.  19 ¶ So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.  20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.  21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, "Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?"  22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.


When we obey the gospel and get cured from our sin, we are not supposed to keep it quite. Instead, like Paul, we should go tell people about what Jesus did for us through His sacrifice and how wonderful we feel about being healed from sin. The more we can spread the word the better.


So, let us take what have learned from this great miracle of Jesus and the attitude of the leper and be people that approach God with reverence and be thankful what He has made possible for us through His Son. We have been given complete access the thrown of God:


Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


Yes, we are to be confident that God will hear our prayers, but let us never become arrogant thinking that God owes us anything. Let us be the kind of Christians that say your will God not mine. Let us do our best to share what Jesus has done for us with the masses so that they too might be cured from their sins. Adapted from The Miracles of Jesus 2001 Power Lectureship.