Matthew 8:1-4 You Can Make Me Clean

Today we encounter a story that is recorded in all three synoptic Gospels, i.e. Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  They are called synoptic because they cover much of the same material.  They each tell this story in their own way, which gives us different perspectives.  Apparently this was a famous incident between the Lord and a leper.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

Great Multitudes Followed (v1)
The Scripture says, “When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.”  The mountain that he came down from must have been the one that he went up on in 5:1 and the multitudes that followed him must have been the ones that prompted the occasion for the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus’ fame had spread over the entire region and great crowds followed him everywhere he went.  Instead of giving the people what they wanted (i.e. a miracle), Jesus sat down and began to teach them.  He gave them what they needed.  Do you see the pattern that Jesus has set for us?  From time to time he will heal individuals and perform miracles, but his main objective is to teach all of his followers.  For the most part, the Christian life is not one of flashy events, but of slow and quiet progress in Christ which provides great joy.

Now why were they following him?  There may have been many in the crowds that followed him because they wanted to see a miracle, but for a direct answer we can go back to 7:28-29.  This was not like the time that Jesus fed the multitude and they followed him afterward because they wanted free food.  They followed him because of his teaching, his word.  What a lesson for us as we begin a new year.  Two questions may be asked: first, are you following Jesus and second, why are you following Jesus?  I hope that you answer “yes” to the first and “his word” to the second.  What is so special about Jesus’ word?  He speaks like no one else!  His words are spirit and they are life!  To whom else shall we go? Jesus Christ has the words of eternal life.

A Leper Came (v2)
“And behold” tells us that this is a new scene.  It is related to verse one, but may stand alone.  We can not be sure what kind of “leprosy” this was.  The word is used of all sorts of skin diseases, but it most certainly was something that was incurable and horrific to the people.  In any case, it made this man ceremonially unclean in the eyes of all Jews.  He would not have been able to worship in the Temple or really have any kind of social interaction with others.  He was an outcast.  He came and knelt down before the Lord to seek mercy.  He knew that Christ had the authority and power to do a great miracle for him.  He only feared that he would be passed by.  Have you ever felt that way?  You knew that Christ could forgive you of your sins, but for some reason you felt like you may be passed by?  If so, listen closely to the rest of the story.  For this man to come to Jesus would have been bold and the normal response for a Jewish man like Jesus would have been to steer clear of him.  Anything but that reaction would have been extraordinary.  The leper shows great respect for Jesus, he first kneels and then calls him Lord.

He asserts Jesus’ power in the first place with “you can” and then in the second place he asserts Jesus’ sovereignty “if you are willing.”

I am Willing (v3)
Jesus did something extraordinary!  He reached out!  He actually touched this man, who apparently did not come too close to Jesus.  Touching him would have made Jesus ceremonially unclean.  We know that he didn’t have to touch the man to heal him.  So, he must have intentionally done this to make a point.  Jesus reaches and he speaks.  He says, “I am willing; be cleansed.”  The love of Christ was extended to even the most outcast of society.

I like this word that is used next: “immediately.”  Immediately the man was healed.  His leprosy was cleansed.

Tell No One (v4)
Jesus wants the man to tell no one.  Most likely because it was not his time.  I have said many times before, Jesus was always aware of time during his life and ministry.  The man was not to tell anyone, but of course it would be made known to the priests who he presented himself before.

The last of verse four shows us that the Law points to Christ.  How does it demonstrate this?  What Jesus had just done would be confirmed by the priests who operated under the Law of Moses.  Even those corrupt priests would not be able to deny or discount what Jesus had done for this man.  So, Jesus does what the religious leaders can not.  He preaches and teaches with authority and he heals those who are considered to be forever unclean.

The Lord is willing to cleanse you this morning.  Not every receives a miracle of physical relief, but all to come to him for spiritual cleansing will not be passed by.  He is more than willing.  His willingness took him all the way to the cross of Calvary.