the heart of the leper.
Jesus went up on the mountain to teach; Jesus came down the mountain to heal.
When Jesus had come down the mountain, large crowds followed Him, but a leper came before Him and worshiped Him saying: “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him and said: “I am willing.” – Matthew 8:1-2
This leper had most likely heard Jesus sermon, the beatitudes, the Kingdom that takes the lowest and exalts them – and takes the humble and restores the heart. He came with a request: “If You are willing, You can make me clean,” and Jesus touched him. I grew up hearing the same statement: “it was taboo to touch a leper,” and I think they may be the answer in part – but I think we need to think bigger. If Jesus healed this man for us, then that answer would hold, but if He healed this man for this man’s sake then perhaps there is another explanation.
Leprosy effects the nervous system at the epidermal level; that is the ability to feel, which is why amputation is often associated as a leper may receive in injury without being aware of it and it become infected – and the most common is the loss of the fingertips. Jesus touches him. Matthew points out that this man was healed immediately. Blindness is cured when the person can see, and the mute is healed when he can speak, but the leper – yes, the infections probably left and the sores cleared up, but the leper would be able to feel again: the warmth of the sunshine, the brush of the wind, the touch of the Savior.
Many translations will write “and a leper came to Him and bowed down…” but the translation is almost interchangeable with “but” and “bowed down” is the concept of face in the dirt and adoration. I think “but” sets up the contradiction; this leper came to worship actually shows less a man coming to be healed and a man responding to the sermon he had just heard, not merely to follow Him, but to confront Him with his (the man’s) problem that had kept him from Jewish society. His response is faith through the humility of the question, and his question is for redemption into God’s kingdom.
The healing was not in the touch, but in the response to this man’s faith.
The touch only showed that he had been healed.
Jesus sends him to give the offering that Moses commanded, but not tell why – the cleansing this man received, the translation, was not merely of the body, but the heart. Our problems are rarely our problems, but our hearts must first be changed. Yet how often is this me? I see, but I fail to behold. I hear, but I fail to understand. I feel, but I fail to act. The touch of Christ on my heart of stone only to say again and again: “I am willing”, and find this piece of redemption is the High Priest presenting me before Himself cleansed to actually change what needed to be changed all along – my heart of stone, my leprous heart, my sin soaked heart.
Faith brings humility and humility brings the favor of God – all things are not for our things, but for the praise of His glory.
If that makes sense.