Matthew 8:1-4

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

JESUS’ CLEANSING OF A LEPER

INTRODUCTION:

 

The narrative about Jesus in Matthew chapters 8 and 9 includes His cleansing of a leper, His healing of the centurion’s servant, His healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, His test for discipleship, His stilling of the winds and waves, His casting out demons at Gadara, His healing of a paralytic man, His call of Matthew, His answer to the Pharisees about eating with tax collectors and sinners, His answer to the Pharisees about fasting, His healing of Jairus’ daughter and the woman with the issue of blood, His healing of two blind men, His casting out a demon from a man who was unable to speak, and His compassion for the multitudes.

 

After Jesus descended from the mountain following the Sermon on the Mount, great crowds followed Him. A leper bowed before Jesus and told Him that He could cleanse him if He chose to do so, and Jesus cleansed him from his leprosy. Jesus then told the newly-cleansed leper to go to the priest and offer the gift commanded by Moses as a testimony of his cleansing.

We note that –

    I.     LEPROSY WAS A TERRIBLE DISEASE

 

According to Barnes Notes,

 

No disease with which the human family has been afflicted has been more dreadful than that which is often mentioned in the Bible as the leprosy. It first exhibits itself on the surface of the skin. The appearance is not always the same, but it commonly resembles the spot made by the puncture of a pin or the pustules of a ringworm. The spots generally make their appearance very suddenly. Perhaps its appearance might be hastened by any sudden passion, as fear or anger. . . . The spots commonly exhibit themselves at first on the face, about the nose and eyes, and increase in size a number of years, till they become as large as a pea or a bean.

 

There are three kinds of leprosy, distinguished by the appearance of the spots – the white, the black, and the red leprosy. These spots, though few at first, gradually spread till they cover the whole body.

 

But, though the appearance of the disease is at first in the skin, yet it is deeply seated in the bones, and marrow, and joints of the body. We have reason to suppose that in children it is concealed in the system for a number of years till they arrive at the age of puberty; and in adults for three or four years, till at last it gives fearful indications on the skin of its having gained a well-rooted and permanent existence. A leprous person may live twenty, thirty, or even fifty years, if he received the disease at his birth, but they will be years of indescribable misery. The bones and marrow are pervaded with the disease. The malady advances from one stage to another with slow and certain ruin. “Life still lingers amid the desolation;” the joints separate; the fingers, toes, and other members one by one fall off; and the malady thus gradually approaches the seat of life. The wretched victim is thus doomed to see himself dying piecemeal, assured that no human power can arrest for a moment the silent and steady march of this foe to the seat of life.

 

This disease is contagious and hereditary. It is easily communicated from one to another, and is transmitted to the third and fourth generation. The last generation that is afflicted with it commonly exhibits the symptoms by decayed teeth, by a fetid breath, and by a diseased complexion.

 

. . . An eyewitness has written, “Its commencement is imperceptible. There appear only some few white spots on the skin. At first they are attended with no pain or inconvenience, but no means whatever will remove them. The disease imperceptibly increases for many years. The spots become larger, and spread over the whole body. When the disease advances, the upper part of the nose swells, the nostrils become enlarged, and the nose itself soft. Tumours appear on the jaws; the eye-brows swell; the ears become thick; the joints of the fingers, as also the feet and the toes, swell; the nails become scaly; the joints of the hands and feet separate and drop off. In the last stage of the disease the patient becomes a hideous spectacle, and falls to pieces.”

 

Because leprosy was contagious, lepers had to live by themselves away from others. If someone were to come too close, lepers were supposed to cry out, Unclean, Unclean.

One day –

  II.     JESUS ENCOUNTERED A LEPER – 8:1-2A

 

Matthew 8:1-2 a – (1) When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. (2) And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying. . . .

 

Following His completion of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus descended from the mountain.

 

When he was come down from the mountain suggests at the time He (i.e. Jesus) came from the mountain (or after the time He came down from the mountain) where He had recently completed delivering His Sermon on the Mount.

 

Great multitudes followed him suggests great crowds followed Him. As a result of His teaching, Jesus attracted a lot of people.

 

Matthew 8:2 a – And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

 

According to verse 2, a leper approached Jesus and told Him that He (i.e. Jesus) had the ability to cleanse him from his leprosy if He chose to do so.

 

And behold is used to gain the reader’s attention.

 

There came a leper, i.e. someone with a disease called leprosy.

 

And worshipped him is and was worshiping Him (i.e. was worshiping Jesus). It suggests that the leper was prostrating himself before Jesus, that he had fallen down before Jesus and was worshiping Him.

 

The fact that Jesus permitted this leper to worship Him is an indirect claim made by Jesus Himself that He is God.

 

Saying suggests and was saying.

We note that –

 III.     THE LEPER BELIEVED THAT JESUS HAD THE ABILITY TO CLEANSE HIM FROM HIS LEPROSY – 8:2B

 

Matthew 8:2 b – . . . Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

 

The leper addressed Jesus as Lord, thereby indicating his submission to Jesus.

 

After wilt, the reader should supply the words cleanse me from my leprosy so that his statement is understood to mean, If thou wilt (cleanse me from my leprosy), i.e. if You will to cleanse me from my leprosy, if You wish to cleanse me from my leprosy, or if You want to cleanse me from my leprosy.

 

Thou canst make me clean is, You are able to cleanse me. He thus expressed his belief that Jesus had the ability to cleanse him from his leprosy. He also recognized that any cleansing would be left up to the will of Jesus.

We note next that –

 IV.     JESUS WAS WILLING TO CLEANSE THE LEPER – 8:3A

 

Matthew 8:3 a – And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will. . . .

 

Verse 3 reveals that Jesus cleansed the leper. And Jesus put forth his hand suggests and Jesus reached forth (i.e. stretched out or extended) (His) hand.

 

And touched him means and touched the leper. Touching a leper was something unheard of. It was something you just didn’t do lest his leprosy spread to you; but Jesus was God, and He actually touched the leper.

 

Saying, I will, which indicates Jesus’ determination to cleanse the leper.

 

In addition, we note that, not only was Jesus willing to cleanse the leper, but –

   V.     JESUS CLEANSED THE LEPER – 8:3B

 

Matthew 8:3 b – . . . Be thou clean. . . .

 

Be thou clean suggests, Be cleansed; and its tense indicates that its action was to be undertaken at once and without delay.

We see that –

 VI.     THE LEPER’S CLEANSING WAS IMMEDIATE AND COMPLETE – 8:3C

 

Matthew 8:3 c – And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

 

And immediately suggests and at once. There was no delay.

 

His leprosy was cleansed means the leper’s leprosy was made clean.

 

The action of was cleansed indicates that its action was complete as a whole.

We note finally that –

VII.     NOW THAT HE HAD BEEN CLEANSED FROM HIS LEPROSY, JESUS TOLD THE NEWLY-CLEANSED LEPER WHAT HE NEEDED TO DO – 8:4

 

Matthew 8:4 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.

 

In verse 4 Jesus instructs the newly-cleansed leper to go and show himself to the priest and offer the offering prescribed by Moses in the law.

 

And Jesus saith unto him is and Jesus says to him (i.e. to the leper He had just cleansed).

 

See thou tell no man is see to it that you tell no one. Is there anything about this that could possibly be misunderstood? What is about Don’t tell anyone that someone would not understand?

 

No man has been placed in a position of emphasis in the Greek text, which reads literally, See to it that no one you tell.

 

According to the parallel account in Mark 1:45 , however, the man did not do what Jesus said. Instead, the man disobeyed with the result that it had an adverse effect on the ministry of Jesus.

 

Mark 1:45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.

 

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to see thou tell no man.

 

Go thy way is simply go or be going.

 

Show thyself to the priest is show yourself to the priest where thyself is emphasized by its position in the Greek text. It is literally, Yourself show to the priest.

 

And offer the gift that Moses commanded is and bring (or present) the gift (or offering) which Moses ordered in Leviticus 14:1-10 .

 

Leviticus 14:1-10 – (1) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (2) This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest: (3) And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper; (4) Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop: (5) And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water: (6) As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water: (7) And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field. (8) And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean: and after that he shall come into the camp, and shall tarry abroad out of his tent seven days [i.e. he shall stay outside of his tent for seven days]. (9) But it shall be on the seventh day, that he shall shave all his hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair he shall shave off: and he shall wash his clothes, also he shall wash his flesh in water, and he shall be clean. (10) And on the eighth day he shall take two he lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish, and three tenth deals [i.e. six quarts] of fine flour for a meat offering [i.e. a grain offering], mingled with oil [i.e. mixed with olive oil], and one log of oil [i.e. one cup of olive oil].

 

This was to be done for a testimony unto them, i.e. for a testimony to the priests. They had never seen anyone cleansed from leprosy. Only Miriam and Naaman are reported in the Old Testament to have been cleansed from leprosy, and Naaman was a Syrian.

CONCLUSION:

 

Leprosy is a terrible disease. This man was plagued with leprosy, but Jesus cleansed him from his leprosy.

 

We are likewise plagued with a terrible disease called sin.

 

Romans 3:9-209 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes. 19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

 

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

 

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

 

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Ephesians 2:1-3 – (1) And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; (2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

 

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

 

Just as Christ was willing to cleanse the leper from his leprosy, He is also willing to cleanse us from our sin.

 

Matthew 11:28-30 – (28) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

 

John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

 

Ephesians 2:4-10 – (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us [i.e. made us alive] together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (7) That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast. (10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

 

Just as the leper’s cleansing was instantaneous and complete, our cleansing from sin is also instantaneous and complete.

 

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

 

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

 

I John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

 

Have you accepted the cleansing offered by God?

 

John 3:16-18 – (16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (17) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

 

Just as the leper was instructed to go and show himself to the priest, we have likewise been given some instructions.

 

Our instructions include –

 

Romans 12:1-2 – (1) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

 

Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

 

Will you go and do what Jesus instructs you to do, or will you disobey like the leper?

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