Summary: A look at Jesus’ encounter with a leper and how it relates to us. We all have leprosy, which is symbolic of sin, and only Jesus can make us clean again!
“Encounters with Jesus: With an Unclean Man”
When I was a freshman in college I had to preach a sermon in one of my classes, the teacher insisted that we dress up for the occasion. The class was early, like 7:30 early; I rolled out of bed a little bit late and began to get ready for class still half way asleep. I was trying extra hard to be quick and quiet so as not to awake my roommate. I leave and get to class and the second I get there I notice I had leaned over a busted pen on my desk and gotten ink all over my tie and shirt. I seem to have a knack for when I need to be dressed up and look nice to ruin it by spilling something on myself.
It’s no fun to be unclean!
As I read through the gospels I am amazed at our Savior. I cannot help, but to stand in awe of this man who lived in Palestine 2,000 years ago. It is clear that no person that has ever lives has even come close to measuring up to Jesus Christ. No person has spoke with the power and authority that Jesus spoke. No person has looked on people with such great compassion as Jesus. Jesus continuously did things that
Throughout Jesus’ life and ministry h came across and encountered many people. The people he came across were different from one person to the next, but one thing remained the same and that was the love and compassion that Jesus showed to those people. Today, we encounter Jesus as well through His Word and the love and compassion come over to our lives as well. We have the privilege of getting to know the greatest person that has ever walked on the face of this earth, the person that changed the world more than any other, and the one that died as a sacrifice for us on mount Calvary. Today he is bringing us many of the same messages that he brought to those living in His day. He is still looking for people to deny themselves, and take up their crosses and follow him.
To me one of the most exciting miracles that Jesus performed was the one where healed the man with leprosy. Leprosy during Jesus’ times was considered one of the worst diseases that a person could contract. It was a disgusting disease. The spots of leprosy typically would make their appearance very suddenly. Soon the sores covered the whole body and became ulcerated, and would begin to bleed…then flesh would begin to fall off of the body, sometimes in large portions—fingers and toes first, perhaps an ear or part of the nose. What made leprosy such a dreaded disease wasn’t just the pain and the disgust of the disease it was how people responded to the leper. The leper was considered an outcast in society, they were deprived of their rights to worship and be around people they instead had to live outside the city walls in leper colonies. Whenever the leper walked by crying, “unclean, unclean” so people would know to avoid him. When the lepers would walk by people they had to shout that they were unclean as warning to stay away. In Leviticus, leprosy is the most serious of all forms of uncleanness.
When this leper came to Jesus great crowds were following Him, he had just preach his sermon on the mount and his popularity was rapidly increasing. This leper came into the city and approached Jesus. Interestingly, the leper should not have been inside of the city, he should have been outside the city walls with the other lepers. This man would have been thought of as a man cursed by God. You may remember when Moses’ sister, Miriam opposed Moses’ leadership, she was cursed by God with leprosy. Jesus is about to heal the most disgusting person he has come across in his ministry. Maybe as the leper approached, he was following what the law prescribed, crying out, “unclean, unclean”. I picture the crowds rapidly moving out of the way of this man. Touching him alone would be an act making him unclean. The leper wanted to be healed, but the leper’s problem was more than a dreaded skin disease, he like us has leprosy of the soul. Jesus therefore didn’t just heal him, he cleansed him.
Text: Matthew 8:1-4
I. The Healing of the Leper
If we thought that Jesus disciples and others were appalled when Jesus hung around tax-collectors and prostitutes imagine how they felt as they saw this man that was probably a hideous sight to look upon. You see, Jesus was different from everyone else that was living during that time and this leper knew it. I don’t know what made it clear to him that Jesus wouldn’t treat him with the contempt and scorn that the Jewish rabbis would have treated him. Perhaps he could hear from Jesus’ teaching that he was unlike the teacher’s of the law. Perhaps he could see love and compassion beam from the eyes of our Savior. Nonetheless, the leper knew Jesus was different and knew that he could do something for him. I hate to wonder how I would have responded to that man. “I’m sorry I can’t help you I don’t want you to make me unclean.” Perhaps I would have turned away or avoided the situation. Jesus never avoided a person that was disgusting in our sight, in fact those were the very people he hung around and took in his arms and showed love. In fact, this is one of the things that people ridiculed Jesus for the most that he would love the nasty people of the world.