Jesus and the Leper (Matthew 8:1-4)
Given the chaos a virus has caused and its devastating effects multiplying everyday, many are baffled and many broken beyond repair. In these challenging times, many will Glorify God and many would blaspheme against Him. A Christian will instantly look at the author and finisher of His faith even when his back is up against the wall. Driving strength from the scriptures for him is instinctive.
Jesus’ sermon on the mount is one of the most authoritative and cited biblical text. The incredible words and wisdom of Lord Jesus Christ is still studied and reflected upon. The opening verse in the gospel of Matthew chapter 8 points to the fact that Jesus came down from the mountain after preaching this famous sermon on the mount, and the astonished crowd followed Him. The people who were astonished because of His words were now a few moments away from being stunned because of His acts.
In Matthew 8:1-4 we read a leper came before Jesus, asserting His Lordship he pleaded to be healed, and Jesus touched the leper and healed him. There is a possibility that the cause of astonishment here was more inclined towards Jesus’ act of touching the leper, than the leper being straightaway healed. Because, Jesus on touching the leper, defied the norm and did something that was against the law of Moses. In verse 4, Jesus advises the leper to not say anything to anyone and get himself examined by the priests, offer gifts according to the law.
Observations: In purview of present corona virus pandemic condition, what lessons can we learn from this section of the scripture?
I want to derive 3 observations.
- Jesus defied the norms. Jesus being fully man and fully God, in His sovereignty touched the leper physically and healed him instantly. Only God could do that, and the leper who rightly asserted His Lordship on approaching Him (V. 1) was given the due reward for his faith which was coupled with his action (initiative) to take a step towards his Lord. In these challenging times and restricting days, there are only a handful of things we can do. It is important we take a step in faith and reach out to the affected and the vulnerable. Jesus was and is God, so he could physically touch the leper; we being finite men, need to understand our limitation and in today’s context maintain distance, yet do our best to help the affected and vulnerable. Our thoughts and actions can defy the norms of the present world, yet be in sync with Gods words and teachings. There are numerous acts of love and spiritual generosity you can carry out to help and support your extended families, neighbors, colleagues, clients and fellow Christians. The world is stockpiling perishable goods, we Christian should stockpile the imperishable – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. This is our ammunition in every warfare.
- Jesus was and is still willing! Throughout the Bible we do come across numerous instances where God answered to groaning, calls, prayers, and supplications of His people. Corporate and personal prayers, He respects them all and is willing to provide our needs according to His will. The urgency is enormous and scale of devastation is like never seen before. How much more earnest should we be in these troubled times to call upon the name of our Lord and seek His divine intervention. The one who is the radiance of the glory of God, who upholds the universe by the word of His power is mighty, able and willing to save!
- Jesus demands allegiance to the authorities. After speaking authoritatively on the mountain, and later demonstrating His Lordship over all aspects of human life by touching and instantly healing the leper, Jesus does another stunning act here. As paradoxical as it may seems, Jesus did asked the leper to go and show himself to the priests and offer sacrifices as suggested in the law. Jesus knew these were the people (in authority) who were reprobate; who abused their power and influence and later would kill him on the cross, yet he demanded that the healed leper should respect the authorities and the Law. In conjunction with His teachings in the Bible, Jesus demands that we His people should obey the authorities, then and now. We must meticulously pay heed to the government advisories and keep our conduct blameless, doing everything in our capacities. Social Isolation is the need of time, lets precisely do everything required of us.
This passage in the Bible speaks to us so relevantly in present time of crisis. Glory to our Lord, His word and His Spirit who is the same yesterday, today and forever.