“When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
Now Matthew turned from the Sermon on the Mount to the telling of stories that demonstrate and prove the credentials of Jesus’ Messiahship. Chapters eight and nine focus on the Messiah’s miraculous works. He moved from teaching to action.
Matthew did not present his stories about Christ in chronological order but by topic to prove his particular thesis about the Messiah.
We see the authority of the Messiah in both incomparable words and exceptional deeds. Truth verifies itself. The purpose of miracles is to show authenticity of the one performing the miracle. Jesus showed His credentials as Messiah by His miracles.
First, Jesus showed His authority over disease by the cleansing of the leper (8:1-4). The cleansing of the leper is the first of ten miracles in the next three chapters. There is no record of a leper healed between 2 Kings 5 and Matthew 8. This proved that the Messiah had come.
Note the sphere of Jesus’ miracles:
Authority over disease, 8:1-15
Authority over the devil, 8:16, 38-34
Authority over nature, 8:18-27
Authority over death, 9:18-25
When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.
After Jesus gave His Sermon and upon coming down from the mountain, great crowds followed Him.
It was a shock to the crowd to see a highly contagious leper in the midst of them. At that time, there was no hope of healing for a leper and he lived in deep isolation from others.
a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
The story of a leper coming to Jesus appears immediately after the Sermon. The leper had faith that Jesus could heal him, expressed by the words “you can.” However, the leper also recognized the right of the Messiah to heal or not with the words “if you are willing.” He accepted that his physical situation was in the will and hands of God. God will provide grace in either case.
Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him,
Jesus crossed precedence (ceremonial defilement) and custom by touching the leper. No one touched lepers because of their highly contagious disease. His authority superseded precedence.
saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.”
Healing of the leper rested on Jesus’ choice, not the leper’s faith. Lepers were everywhere but Jesus chose to heal this one for a particular purpose seen in the next verse. God designs all healings to show the authenticity of Jesus’ Messiahship.
Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
The leper’s healing was instantaneous.
And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one;
This is the first instance where Jesus commanded someone to “tell no one” about the miracle (9:30; 12:16; 17:9; Mark 5:43; 7:36; 8:26). This would be difficult for a person with a grateful heart. Evidently, Jesus wanted the priests of Israel to know about His Messiahship first.
but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded,
The Old Testament required the leper to bring an offering and appear before a priest in order to be proclaimed clean (Le 14:4-6).
as a testimony to them.”
Jesus wanted the healing of the leper to be a testimony to the priestly system in Israel. This was an announcement to those in charge of religion in Israel that the Messiah with all His authority had come with all His manifestations. The leaders of Israel were to have the first crack at owning Jesus as the Messiah.
The mature Christian places his lot in the hands of God.
The mature Christian places his lot in the hands of God. It is God’s will whether He heals or not. Acceptance of our lot in life from God is a sign of the ability to adjust to God’s plan for our lives.