The response of Jesus (Matthew 8:1-4)

Published on Tuesday, 12 December 2017 05:48
The response of Jesus (Matthew 8:1-4)
The first detail that Matthew highlights is the willingness of Jesus to identify with needy sinners. This is revealed in his response of touching the leper. In the eyes of the community, this action made Jesus unclean (Leviticus 5:3), whereas in reality the opposite was taking place. Jesus was cleansing the leper! His response on this occasion also shows the eagerness with which he comes to the aid of those in spiritual distress.

The second detail that Matthew underlines is the immediate nature of the cure that Jesus provided. He did in a moment what the best doctors of the time could not do in a lifetime of treatment. What he did physically here is also true spiritually as far as salvation from sin is concerned. Of course, we cannot push the picture too far. Although a sinner becomes spotless in God’s sight when he believes in Jesus (justified), he does not become sinless. He remains a sinner while on earth, although he is a forgiven sinner.

The third detail mentioned by Matthew is that Jesus gave instructions to the cured leper about acknowledging the commandments of God’s Word (Leviticus 14). The ceremonial law detailed a process to follow when a leper professed to having been healed. If the leper, after his healing, had ignored those requirements, he would have no credibility in the eyes of those who worshipped God. This is a powerful message for us as well. Obedience is necessary for showing we put Jesus first in our lives and also for showing to others that we are the disciples of Jesus.

Fourthly, Jesus tested the healed leper by this command to go to the priests. He told the man to go to the temple in Jerusalem, which was a long way from Galilee. If he failed to go, he would have failed the test of obedience. Moreover, Jesus was requiring that the man should put God first. One assumes that there were other people he might want to tell – perhaps, his wife and children, maybe his parents or brothers and sisters. Instead of going to tell them, he was to go and do what God required and after he had done that he could tell others.

Fifth, the priests in the temple would have learned two things about Jesus. One is that Jesus wished to honour the law of Moses and the other is that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Messiah in the Old Testament concerning his ability to perform incredible miracles. Imagine being the priest who had to deal with this man. It is unlikely that he would have dealt with many such cases. Surely he would inform his fellows about the astonishing situation he recently had to deal with.

The sad detail is that Mark tells us that the leper did not do what Jesus wanted him to do. Instead he went and told everyone what had taken place, and the outcome was that the mission of Jesus was disrupted. Here we are reminded that the people whom Jesus help do not become sinless. Sometimes they use their own wisdom instead of his and when they do they lose out spiritually.

ITV is also the case that the healing that Jesus provided restored a wide area of blessings to the leper. Previously he was isolated, now he could enter into society. Before he was debarred from going to the temple, now he could participate in the worship of God. In the years in which he was a leper, he had to live in communities composed of lepers, those without hope; now he could join the community of hope as he faced the future and shared in the blessings of the kingdom that Jesus had commenced. His restoration depicts the range of blessings that salvation brings. Salvation gives us fellowship in the family of God, gives us access to the presence of God, and provides us with hope eventually of the glory of God.

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