Matthew 8:3,“And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
Matthew 8:1-4 describes what must have been quite an extraordinary scene. These verses follow immediately upon the heels of The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). As Jesus was coming down from the mountain and the crowds were surrounding him (v. 1), something remarkable and unusual happens. A leper comes and kneels before the Lord Jesus Christ. Lepers were considered unclean and barred from temple worship; and for a leper to approach Jesus while these crowds looked on would have been front page headlines. Luke’s version tells us that the man was “full of leprosy” (Luke 5:12), indicating that his disease was in an advanced state. Perhaps he was hideous to look at – perhaps he had not felt human touch in years! From a human standpoint, his situation was hopeless! And he comes bowing before Jesus.
The question that remains to be answered is how would Jesus respond? Would he wave him away? Would he give him a detailed discourse on the finer points of the laws of cleanliness? Verses 3-4 tells us: “And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I will’ be clean.’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Jesus touched him! He could have healed him by his very word (see Matt 8:5-13), but as to highlight the love and compassion of our Savior, Jesus reaches out and touches this leper. And his leprosy was cleansed! One final note I’d like to make. Notice what Jesus does not tell the leper to do … he doesn’t tell him to go and clean himself up a little bit … but he heals this man full of leprosy. He touched him!
Every one of us is afflicted with a disease far more horrendous than leprosy – the disease of sin (Eph 2:1-3). And just as Jesus healed this man’s physical disease, so he heals us of our greater spiritual disease. But we must repent and rest in his forgiving love. Jesus says, “Whoever comes to me, I will never cast out (John 6:37).” Dear friend, have you turned to Jesus to be delivered from the disease of sin? If not, do so today. “Whoever has [Jesus] has life” (1 John 5:12). Today may we know more of the height and the depth of the love of Christ!! While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!
– Rev. Robert Arendale