1 When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."

3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. 4 Then Jesus said to him, "See that you don't tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."

Matt 8:1-4 (NIV)

It is not surprising that the first miracle Matthew records of our Lord’s ministry – albeit not the first miracle He performed – was the cleansing of a leper. Leprosy, much akin to sin, was known as a dire and dreaded disease and looked down upon by the Jews as a particular mark of God’s displeasure. Sin is the leprosy of the soul, shutting us out from communion with God. In like measure, lepers were banned to a life outside the camp where they had no physical contact with others. They were not allowed in the temple for worship, their arms were not allowed to hug, their ears heard no conversation, and their hearts received no words of encouragement or affirmation rather alone or perhaps in the company of other lepers they had to constantly scream out “Unclean!”; “Unclean!” to warn passerby’s not to come near them. Yet Christ came to turn away the wrath of God by taking away sin so it is therefore fitting that the first miracle Matthew records begins with the cure of a leper – one that could not help himself. Leprosy was a disease the Jewish people knew only God could heal. Leviticus gives us the specifics of the Jewish Law for those who had leprosy:

45 “The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ 46 As long as he has the infection he remains unclean. He must live alone; he must live outside the camp.” Lev 13:45-46 (NIV)

Interestingly, large crowds had begun to follow our Lord immediately following the Sermon on the Mount and although our leper was banned from joining his brethren, He was quite possibly within hearing distance of Christ’s teachings and encouraged by the same as Scripture tells us our Lord taught as One who had Authority. Whatever may be the case, the leper in faith, approached Jesus humbly yet with a bold confidence in our Lord’s ability coupled with a genuine submission to His will - "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."
Luke tells us in his account that this leper was covered in leprosy – perhaps in the final stages - and fell facedown at Jesus’ feet in his humble petition:

12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Luke 5:12 (NIV)

Our sweet Jesus, Who never turns away any who willingly seek Him, in an act of merciful compassion reaches out and touches the untouchable and speaks the assuring Words to his hopeful ears: "I am willing." Jesus, Who spoke the world into being, is not only willing but totally able to accomplish exceeding, abundantly above all we can even ask or imagine for His glory and our good. Indeed, our God is able.

"God's mercy is vast and beyond our comprehension. He will never reject anyone who turns to Him for mercy. Nor will He force Himself on anyone who chooses to live without Him."
Michael Youssef

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Eph 3:20-21 (NIV)

Jesus always heals when we come to Him – either physically or spiritually. If the answer is “No” when praying for a physical healing we can be assured that it is for a far greater “Yes” whether we can readily discern that or not. There is much more going on (to say the least) than what our eyes perceive. God is always working whether we clearly see His hand or not. As believers, this world is not our home, heaven is. Remember He raised Lazarus from the dead for him only to die again. Whatever “thorn” He allows in our lives to remain – whether infirmity, sickness or whatever – He uses for our good. How can we say that it is never God’s will for us to be sick if it was His will to bruise His own Son? Like a diamond on black velvet, Divine power is often best displayed against the background of human weakness. Flesh often fights against tribulation even after earnestly praying for its removal. Out attitudes of acceptance of whatever is allowed in our lives points us back to knowing He always has our best interest at heart and even though we perhaps cannot understand, we can still trust Him. It is called faith. He always provides the grace sufficient to meet each need He allows in our lives.

“What shines forth and reveals God in your life is not your relative consistency to an idea of what a saint should be, but your genuine, living relationship with Jesus Christ, and your unrestrained devotion to Him whether you are well of sick.” Oswald Chambers

is own Son?

7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:7-10 (NIV)

What I Glean

  • Sin is the leprosy of the soul, keeping me from communion with God.
  • Jesus is always willing to heal when I come to Him – either physically or spiritually.
  • God’s strength and power show forth greatly in my weakness – for His glory and my good.