Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Compassion for a Leper
AS JESUS and his four disciples visit the cities of Galilee, news about the wonderful things he is doing spreads throughout the district. Word of his deeds reaches one city where there is a man sick with leprosy. The physician Luke describes him as being “full of leprosy.” In its advanced stages, this dreadful disease slowly disfigures various parts of the body. So this leper is in a pitiful condition.
When Jesus arrives in the city, the leper approaches him. According to God’s law, a leper is to call out in warning, “Unclean, unclean!” to protect others from coming too close and risking infection. The leper now falls upon his face and begs Jesus: “Lord, if you just want to, you can make me clean.”
What faith the man has in Jesus! Yet, how pitiful his disease must make him appear! What will Jesus do? What would you do? Moved with compassion, Jesus stretches out his hand and touches the man, saying: “I want to. Be made clean.” And immediately the leprosy vanishes from him.
Would you like someone so compassionate as this for your king? The way Jesus treats this leper provides confidence that during his Kingdom rule the Bible prophecy will be fulfilled: “He will feel sorry for the lowly one and the poor one.” Yes, Jesus will then fulfill his heart’s desire to help all afflicted ones.
Even prior to healing the leper, Jesus’ ministry has been creating great excitement among the people. In fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, Jesus now orders the healed man: “See that you tell nobody a thing.” He then instructs him: “Go show yourself to the priest and offer in behalf of your cleansing the things Moses directed, for a witness to them.”
But the man is so happy that he cannot keep the miracle to himself. He goes off and begins spreading the news everywhere, apparently causing such interest and curiosity among the people that Jesus cannot openly go into a city. Thus Jesus stays in lonely places where nobody lives, and people from all over come there to listen to him and to be cured of their sicknesses. Luke 5:12-16; Mark 1:40-45; Matthew 8:2-4; Leviticus 13:45; 14:10-13; Psalm 72:13; Isaiah 42:1, 2.
◆ What effect can leprosy have, and what warning was a leper to give?
◆ How did a leper appeal to Jesus, and what can we learn from Jesus’ response?
◆ How did the healed man fail to obey Jesus, and what were the consequences?